Are you a believer , a Christian, a saved follower of Jesus, born-again, redeemed? Hallelujah! Now you have a restored relationship with God, our Heavenly Father, our Creator. Your sins are paid for and one day you will be in the presence of Jesus.
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 ESV
But if you’re like me , you still struggle with living the way you know that God wants us to live in this world. Why is it so hard?! We really want to do the right thing and have holy and pure thoughts and lives at all times , but we fail over and over, don’t we? Thank you Lord for dying for us while we were yet sinners! When we were made right by Grace through faith alone, we were given a new heart, born again. But we still have our old nature to contend with.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5 ESV
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6 ESV
The only way to truly overcome our flesh is to get closer and closer to God, knowing what he’s like and learning to love him more . In this way the Holy Spirit reveals areas of pride, anger, selfishness, lust, and other weaknesses and sins that we need to let him work on . He is faithful to help us when we turn to him with a humble spirit. But we must turn to him daily in our thoughts which works best when we read the scriptures and pray. You can strengthen your faith even faster by studying with a group led by a Bible-believing, godly teacher.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV
What prompted me to write this post was a little drive I took Saturday. I had to leave very early to reach my destination so I didn’t get much sleep the night before. In fact it was still night when I left. I was anxiously focused on making sure I brought everything I needed for my race that day. I had used Google maps to see how long it would take to get there, 2.5 hours, and the route was set on my phone. But, I didn’t hit START . I figured I knew the way and wouldn’t need to use the map until I got close to the city . Kinda like us thinking we don’t need to read the Bible because we already know what it says.
I got in the van, turned on an Ultrarunner podcast and headed off down the two lane highway into the dark, watching closely for suicidal, road-crossing deer. There were many of them but they stayed in the grass, waiting for the right moment I guess.
About 45 minutes later, cruising a lot faster down a bigger highway, still watching for deer, a thought popped into my head like a message from God. You’re on the wrong road! I was suddenly wide awake as I processed the thought and the reason for my mistake and wondered how far out of the way I’d gone. I grabbed my phone and hit START on Google maps.
Whew! There was a good road not too far ahead that would take me diagonally back to where I was supposed to be. I’m not sure exactly, but I wasted about 20-30 minutes going the wrong way. I stressed out for the next hour hoping I wouldn’t be late.
Why did I go the wrong way? Because, in my hurried , sleep deprived state, I was following a very well established habit, or program , neural circuitry, a route that I use to get to my favorite trails and also to Austin. But that wasn’t my destination! Just like we live the wrong way sometimes because we get busy , tired, in a hurry and forget that we have a new path and a destination, heaven. We are now following the narrow road.
The same thing happens to us humans when we revert to old , comfortable, well-worn habits in our behavior and speech and thoughts that no longer serve us well or reflect our new status as God’s children. For example , taking God’s name in vain, telling white lies, lusting , or feeding our addictions . We are all addicted to something. It’s called worshipping idols in the Bible.
It means loving , trusting, serving, needing something more than God. Food, drink, drugs, sex, shopping, electronic devices, relationships, work, exercise, you name it, you can love it too much if you’re not careful.
So , back to the Bible. That’s where we get our new map , our help, our power over old habits. God is with us always, but we know Him by his Word. His Son is living IN us. The Holy Spirit is our constant helper. They are three in one who are able to transform us by their power. Not by us trying hard to be good! Not by rituals or giving money to causes or churches, or reciting certain words in prayers. The power comes from trusting HIM. Not faith in our own strength or faith in FAITH. We get our strength by daily seeking His help like children . God is good! He already gave us the best gift, his Son and salvation through his death and resurrection. Now he will transform us. He will replace the old habits, some faster than others. We all have those sins that are hard to change. That’s where the real magic happens. Of course it’s not magic. It’s supernatural power!
A personal word to those with anxiety and other mental health conditions. God knows. He knows you have these handicaps and it can affect your ability to focus your thoughts and emotions. If you need medication , ask for it. It is not a lack of faith. Our bodies are fallen due to sin. God knows your heart. Keep trusting him but do whatever you need to to be able to think clearly. Then read your Bible with confidence that the Holy Spirit will help you understand it.