I realize that sometimes I give you a pretty demanding messages. Now mind you, I’m not apologizing, simply acknowledging it. Remember, any message I send has been processed through my own heart, first. I am on the same journey as you to “the Celestial City,” (as Pilgrim’s Progress refers to our destination).
But sadly, I have received a many emails from believers who are still in so much bondage to various habits and sins. Some have written, “I can’t stop gambling” or, “I’m in the grips of an alcohol addiction” “I’m having an affair and I can’t break it off” “I’m a slave to pornography.” Email after email they say the same thing: “I love Jesus and I have begged God to free me. I have prayed, wept and sought godly counsel. But I just can’t break free. What can I do?”
Well, what can I do? I mean I can share what the Word teaches, but they still have to act on that Word. That transition between Romans 7 & 8 discusses this very thing:
It happens so regularly that it is predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in my God’s commands, but it is pretty obvious that not all of “me” joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I have tried everything and nothing helps. I am at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
I have spent a lot of time asking the Lord for wisdom on how to answer these believers. I pray, “Lord, you know your children’s lives. Many are devoted, Spirit-filled saints, yet they don’t have your victory. They don’t know freedom. What’s going on?”
How many of us can relate to that? I am guessing that there are many of us. Oh, it might not be as serious as an addiction to pornography or an affair (or maybe it is), but in any event, we are enslaved by some habitual bondage that we cannot break free of, and like Paul we cry, “What a wretched man I am!” There is an answer, you know. Paul asked, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Then answered his own question by saying:
O thank God! He has! Through Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, our Lord!
The answer to all those questions, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does! He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where we want to serve God with all our hearts and mind, but are pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
The Spirit of God has pledged to keep us from falling, to present us faultless, to justify us by faith, sanctify us by faith, keep us Holy by faith. He promises that our old man is crucified by faith, and that we are translated into his kingdom by faith.
The one glaringly obvious thing that is common to all of these promises is this phrase: “by faith.” According to the Word of God, every one of these things is a matter of faith. So the only clear conclusion about these struggling Christians’ problems: somewhere at the root of their bondage is unbelief. It all boils down to a simple lack of faith. I am sorry if that seems too blunt, but I cannot find and alternative answer.
If you are struggling to gain victory by your willpower, or if you are trying to fight the battle in your old nature, Paul points out that if you are a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. However, if you see that the job is too big for you, that it is something only God can do, and you trust Him to do it — you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked — well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets the job done—by Yehoveh. It is a sheer gift. (Romans 4:4-5)
Your victory won’t come just because you wail and cry loud enough. It won’t come by working real hard and determining you will do it “this time.” Nor will it come automatically. To think so is purely foolish. No, it comes only by faith that Jesus Christ has won the battle for you — and faith is a decision you must act on!
“But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). Indeed, Paul says there is only one condition attached to God’s promises: “If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel!” (Colossians 1:23)
Jesus surrendered everything to his Father! Why? To be a totally obedient Son. We are to do and behave the same way. We are to be totally dependent on the Father, just as Jesus was. And as I told you yesterday, our obedience comes as a result of our Love!
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:29-31
(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.