“Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
There is a message that God is sending me this morning, through my prayer and a couple of devotions. It has to do with the balance between my will and God’s power. You see, my battle with gluttony has stalled. That is frustrating. It seems that I am trying harder and harder yet failing more and more.
On one hand, that shouldn’t surprise me because deliverance from sin is Jesus’ job. He’s the one who died on the cross and was raised from the dead, not me. Verses like John 15:5 are brutally clear – without me you can do nothing. I’ve come to believe that is true. Yet on the other hand, we are to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12) and strive for the prize (v.14).
As with other topics, it’s not an “either/or” issue, it’s “both.” I know all this is true because I’ve seen it play out in my own life. I can be doing wonderfully by being determined not to sin, then suddenly I find that I can’t stop myself from it! I can then pray that God relieves me, and nothing happens. Heck, it might even get worse! I might find that I don’t even want to stop!
There seems to be a fine balance between my will and God’s grace. I must admit powerlessness in order to acknowledge my need for God yet still be intentional in my actions to avoid evil and do good. To make things more complicated, it seems to me that the balancing/tipping point seems to change. Or maybe I just don’t notice that I am making small course corrections that get me into trouble. Here’s one thing I have discovered, I can’t get back on track by slightly nudging my rudder. No, when I’m off, I need a full-blown adjustment! I can get off track a little at a time; but to get back on, I need repentance.
Then I read a guy like Gurnall who says that this won’t get better over time. True, I can make peace with my sin, briefly. God won’t let that go on with his children for long. Sin always demands payment. On the other hand, if I am determined and diligent in digging out and killing my sin, I will meet increasing opposition to my efforts. From who? Satan and my own flesh.
None of this will truly get better until I am finally given a new, resurrected body. I’m thinking my spirit will be free of sin once I die, but I won’t have a body. And, I won’t be complete until I am reunited with it. So, in the end, everything will be fine, but it’s the period between now and my death that I must struggle with.
But struggling is hard. It’s tiring. Yes, sometimes I actually like fighting and battling, but sometimes I want to be lazy about that stuff. I’m finding, however, that being lazy in not what I want, so I need to figure out a way to keep my head in the game. In an increasingly difficult game. A game of high stakes. It sounds exhausting and demoralizing. I’m reminded of this verse:
Jeremiah 12:5 “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?
It seems the only way will be to keep learning the ways of God. I must continually pull verses out that will give me the supernatural strength I need. Like this well-known promise:
Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
God is wise in how he administers his power and strength. I must request it, daily. Why? Because it humbles me and forces me to acknowledge my need for him. God hates pride, and pride come to me easily and unperceived until it suddenly becomes a problem. You know what Jesus said?
Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
What a strange thing to say! You and I don’t really know what a cross is, but the people Jesus was talking to did. They saw people, dying and dead, hanging from them at the gates of their cities. Perhaps if I look upon my sin in terms of life and death, things will be different for me. Maybe that’s what Jesus fully intends.
Father, thank you for again putting things into perspective. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers