When I first came to the Lord, I was told to start memorizing Scripture. So, the first two verse I memorized were Galatians 2:20 and II Corinthians 5:17:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!” (II Corinthians 5:17)
(Of course I also memorized John 3:16: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” But that is a verse that even non-believers know)
Now, regarding the two verses I mentioned first, you might be saying, “I know I’m in Christ by faith. I realize I am a new creature, but I still struggle terribly with this thing ______ (whatever it is). Then I become so discouraged.” Well, tell you what. Our enemy would love to convince you that the Lord has given up on you. He wants you to think He sees you as dirty and filthy with sin. But that is all a lie. What you are experiencing is the flesh battling against the Spirit in you. This is something every believer battles over one thing or another. It could be cherry pies, cigarettes, pornography, and the list goes on and on.
I told you about my experience when I quit smoking. After renouncing them on July 1st, 1983, I threw them away, swearing never to smoke again. The very next morning I rushed down to buy another pack. This battle continued for the next couple of days, when my wife sat on my chest and made me declare I was free! Then, on Sunday morning, July 4th, I began to dance in my shower. The reason I was rejoicing is because I knew, I don’t know how I knew, but I knew I would never smoke the rest of my life. (And joyfully, I haven’t even had the thought of smoking since!)
A couple of years later, I was asking the Lord what happened back then. It was either that night or a few nights later, I dreamed that I was in a cave with a bat or some strange, impish looking thing, sitting on my shoulder. I looked at it and said, “Depart from me, in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth!” The creature squealed and leaped off my shoulder. Then I began to walk out of that cave, but it was like I was slogging through mud or something. But finally, I reached the opening of the cave and freedom.
When I woke up, the dream was still very fresh on my mind, and suddenly I saw the answer to my question! That Wednesday night, when I renounced the cigarettes and their hold on me, they squealed and leaped off of me. But then, during the following days, when I was struggling and bought the new packs (that I immediately threw away), I was no longer fighting a spiritual entanglement. That’s right, I was battling my fleshly longings and enslavement. That was the moment I learned that when we are in the midst of similar experiences, Satan will work his darnedest to convince you that the “old man” is still in control.
Look, over the years, I have faced times when I was brought to my knees, defeated, and begging the Lord to help me understand what was happening in my life. During those times, I would pray, but somehow, it seemed like my prayers did not work. I confessed the right things, read all the books and listened to all the tapes. Nothing at all worked, when finally, my frustrations began to loosen their hold. Everything I was experiencing did not “fit” what all my “Faith-Teachers taught me.”
How was I supposed to fight this? I quoted all the Scriptures, but nothing changed. The reality is that I could not do anything to stop my frustration. I was helpless; impotent, confused. I later discovered is that most believers resist this aspect of their life of faith. Maybe that is a small taste of what, for some, will be the final and most terrifying impotence of all, which is death.
But here’s the thing: no matter what your situation or condition, your Father does not waver in his love for you. He never stopped loving Adam’s race, in spite of all its idolatry and lustful ways. He preserved them throughout history to the last days, when he stepped in with his rescue plan. Through the cross, it is now possible that all of Adam’s race could be reconciled.
You have to know that your standing with God exists because of one thing: you are victorious because of the cross. This victory doesn’t come through any good thing you do. As Paul says, “So then anyone who is living the life of the flesh and catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature cannot please or satisfy God. Nor can they be acceptable to Him” (Romans 8:8).
Our victory comes solely through repentance, faith, belief, and, now hear this, trust in God’s care for us. Our part is to stand firmly on the position he has graciously given us in Christ. His Word promises that you may fail at times. But when He looks at us and sees our heart is set on Him and Him alone! He sees only His Son, Jesus. We are going to come through our battle victorious, with no guilt or condemnation!
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.