2018-01-11 Give Up Trying?

Good Morning!

It seems that I am being bombarded by messages regarding breaking of chains and destroying strongholds. I have a feeling we’re going to be covering this topic quite a bit. For example, this was in my bible reading plan this morning. Oh, side topic – it’s not too late to start a bible in a year plan. Send me a message to join a group on YouVersion. Let’s face it, the bible is THE primary voice of God. I’m not. Your pastor isn’t. Yes, you can hear God in prayer; but without knowledge of the bible, how do you know if you are asking according to His will? Seriously, folks, you will thank me if you do this. Honest.

Anyway, here’s that passage, one that I touched upon on Tuesday:

Matthew 11:25-30 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden in light.”

Has anybody sat you down in a comfortable chair and tend to your needs, especially when you are exhausted? It feels good. I suppose that is why women enjoy pedicures so much. I can tell you one thing, we don’t rest enough. We won’t allow ourselves to. Yet, here we see a wonderful invitation to do just that. My friends, breaking strongholds is taking Jesus up on his invitation. Do you struggle with sin? Is it weighing you down, probably much more than you care to admit? Then go to Jesus. He will give you rest. Do things his way. It’s not as hard as you think. In fact, it’s downright easy. Really, it’s no trouble at all.

It’s quite a revelation when you discover that struggling with a diet (or whatever) is the WRONG way to tackle sin. What do I mean by that? When we struggle, we are doing things under our own steam, our own might, so to say. Right? Should we be surprised that we tire so easily? Should we be surprised when we just give up? Romans 7 is a wonderful chapter on this struggle. I think it is very important to understand our basic human nature, that we are miserable creatures, more bent on tearing down than building up. I don’t want to seem exclusive here; but the message we get from psychologists and child developers and the rest of the world is that our very nature is good, and our job is to bring this goodness out. The message of the bible is quite different. It teaches that there is something quite wrong with us, that which can only be fixed by saving faith in Jesus through what he has done for us. That’s a message the world rejects.

Then comes the day that we are born again and we start to see things with new eyes. We start to see our sin and realize just how much it influences our lives. We become different people. Everybody knows what I’m talking about here. There is no hiding the fact that your sister is now talking all crazy about Jesus. How about when someone at work goes off the deep end and starts inviting everyone to church? The world recognizes believers, as do other believers. It’s amazing how we can meet a fellow believer for the first time and feel as if we have known that person all our lives.

Anyways, our lives change, but we still struggle with sin. We desire to be free, but we still want to do it our way and find ourselves struggling. I’m saying here, today, that this struggle is evidence that we are going about it wrong. Let’s take a look at something quick. See if you recognize this list:

Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness

These are fruit of the Spirit, gifts that we are given by God. We do not earn these nor can we buy them. I think we all can agree that the nations of the world spend countless sums to make the world peaceful by building great armies. Is it working? I suppose only in the sense that there is less war than there could be, but we certainly are not at peace. Check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts

On the other hand, we can quickly recognize when the peace of God rests on someone. This is a gift of God, as are the others. We get these by walking closely with him. There is no other way.

Some of you will notice that there is one gift missing from Galatians 5:22-23.

Self-Control

This is the fruit we, individually, spend a great amount of effort, time, and money on. We try and try to have more self-control. We start diets. We join gyms. We buy motivational tapes. We go to conferences. We join groups. We struggle and struggle and struggle. If only I had more self-control, I won’t _________. It has really started to sink into my mind, this 54-year-old mind, that I have no self-control. No real self-control. Not in matters that I have trouble with. I cannot say I have self-control with gambling if I have no interest in it. If it is a temptation for me, on the other hand, I may discover that I don’t.

The sooner I realize that my struggle is my control and that my control is doomed to fail, the sooner I can turn my problem over to Jesus. When I do that, I give up. Let’s close with a familiar passage. This is normally one we use in context to salvation, the overall decision to follow Jesus. For our limited purposes today, look at it with in context of one particular sin that you are trying to control on your own. See if it doesn’t ring a bell.

Matthew 16:24-27 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

It would seem to me that I would be wise to deny myself the struggle to futilely control my sin by my own power and instead give all this to Jesus and enjoy his gifts. I am not the one who conquers sin. Jesus is.

1 Corinthians 15:56-57 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, teach me to give up my desire to control my sin. Let me surrender it all, daily, to Jesus. Amen.

Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers

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