Friday, September 2, 2016

Struggle Is a Good Sign

"For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." (Romans 7:18)

We can totally relate to Paul's earnest struggle to do what is good (what God wants us to do). Don't get discouraged (that's what Satan wants us to do)! This struggle is actually a good sign. It shows that we have had a heart's transformation. Our heart's desire now is to do what is right (according to God's Word and will), to please, obey, honor, & glorify God. At the same time, it makes us realize that we cannot achieve this goal on our own strength. It strips us from self-reliance and shows us our need to rely on God. It helps us to be humble and grateful for Christ's deliverance, power, and sufficient grace. "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3) 

Don't give up when you fail (that's what Satan wants us to do)! We all need Jesus! Without Him, all our good deeds are filthy rags anyway. This war within between the flesh and the Spirit is an evidence that we are saved and are being sanctified (sanctification is a life-long process). It shows that we are aware of our depravity, lament over sin struggle, and acknowledge our need for God's help. We need His strength and wisdom. We need His grace and forgiveness. The struggle is real but we should not ever feel defeated because we are more than conquerors in Christ. The key is to keep dying to self/crucifying our flesh/saying no to temptations and sins. Submit to God and listen to Him (His Word & His Holy Spirit), instead of our flesh. "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are NOT to do whatever you want...Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:16-17, 24) The solution to Paul's struggle is in the next chapter (Romans 8: Life Through the Spirit). "For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:13) This is a continuing action. We have to choose whether to live by the Spirit or to live according to the flesh. Sin no longer has dominion over us! As long as we live on earth, we're not free from the presence of sin, but in Christ we're free from the punishment and the power of sin. Stand firm in God's grace. Get back up (when you fall) in God's grace. Press on (never give up) in God's grace. For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14) 

Have you heard of a Cherokee story called "Two Wolves"? An old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle between two "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, arrogance, resentment, and lies. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The grandson asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?" His grandfather replied, "The one you feed."

Do you notice that the qualities of the good wolf is very similar to the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23? What I take from the story is: Quit feeding the flesh (our old sinful nature)! Starve it to death! Instead, feed your new life (new nature) in Christ by spending time with Him in prayer & His Word and keeping "in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).

"The Bible-Christian, the more he is conformed to God, advances just so much the more in tenderness and perspicacity of conscience. Sin grows more odious, just as holiness grows more attractive." (Robert L. Dabney)

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your immense patience, love, and kindness towards me! Please forgive me when I fail to do what is good and right in Your eyes. Please empower me by Your Holy Spirit to live a life of holiness, being continually conformed to Christlikeness. Please enable me to say no to my flesh and to faithfully walk in the Spirit. I surrender all to You. Have Your way in me always! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

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