Still struggling with giving into the carnal urges to gossip, criticize, defend yourself, etc.? Me, too. Let's face it. Until we get to heaven it's going to be a daily battle.
But it's not one we have to fight alone.
Today we take a brief break from the usual format of this series. Instead of me giving you a scripture, prayer and some 1,2,3s for a specific urge we're trying to resist, I want to back up and remind us all of where the follow-through has to come from.
Whether you've realized you have a critical spirit, your conversations are all full of gossip, you get on the defensive too easily and too often, or your friends are steering clear of you because you argue too much, we all have (or at least ought to have!) something we're working on so we'll be more Christlike. The Bible says we all sin and fall short of God's glory. But, hey, while we may slip up and say or do the wrong thing occasionally, we don't want to fall captive to a habitual attitude or action that is contrary to godliness.
While I think I've offered you some sound, biblical principles and practical tips for resisting some of the common urges we so often give into, I think it's important to remember that we can't do anything good or worthy on our own power. That's what I call taking the path paved with good intentions, and it usually leads nowhere.
In order for me to live victoriously over the power of sin and temptation in my life, I'll need to cling to and truly absorb some crucial truths from God's Word. These are life-changing, character-transforming and abundant-living pre-conditions that have to be met before we'll ever truly and consistently resist those urges on an ever-increasing basis.
So here's what I suggest: Read over each of these biblical principles and really meditate on them. Ask yourself if you believe them in the core of your being. In other words, examine your life and see if you're living in the light of them or if you've just assented to them with your head, but not your heart. If or when you come across one that challenges you, turn to the accompanying scripture in God's Word, write it on an index card and begin to meditate on it daily, every day, for a long, long time. In fact, memorize it. I'm convinced that nothing changes us from the inside out like truly absorbing God's truth through meditation and memorization!
To resist the urge...
- you must have Christ living in you. Does Jesus live within you? According to Galatians 2:20 a true believer and follower of Jesus Christ is one who has died to self and now lives, not on one's own, but with Christ living in and through him. To be "saved" is not just to know how to get to heaven. It's to die to self and live for Christ. As I heard James McDonald say on the radio the other day, "You don't end up in Cleveland just because you know how to get there!"
- you must surrender to Jesus. It is not enough to be a committed Christian. Read that sentence again, if you will. Instead, we must be surrendered followers of Christ. Do you see the difference between committed and surrendered? Think on that for a while. Understanding the difference in those two terms has made all the difference for me. See Luke 9:23-24 to get a better grasp on what it means to surrender to Jesus. Bottom line? To surrender to Christ means I yield all decisions, rights, feelings, thoughts, dreams, plans, treasures, everything to Him, and I submit myself ready for His orders. I no longer live for self. I live and, if necessary, die a thousand little deaths for Him.
- you must know your purpose. And that purpose is not to be comfortable, happy, prosperous, or any other such self-centered goal. Our purpose is not to have a family, buy a house, build a business, accumulate wealth or anything else so "earthly." Our purpose, clear and simple, is to glorify God. That means the purpose of everything that comes into our life, every conversation, every relationship, every job, every dollar, every struggle, every what-have-you is to give the world around us (or whoever's there at the moment!) a correct estimate of who our God is. We're to act like Him, talk like Him, give like Him, forgive like Him, respond like Him, etc., so people who don't know Him...can. See Romans 11:36.
- you must allow the Holy Spirit to direct your thinking. See Romans 8:5-6. If we're going to live in a way that glorifies God and resists the urges of our own flesh, we'll need to daily set our minds on the priorities, the ways, the principles of the Spirit. We have to learn to think spiritually instead of earthly. Then He will reproduce His character in us (the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23) and we'll resist fleshly urges and behave godly instead.
- you must think more on the eternal, rather than on the temporal. See 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. If we think on the temporal, the here-and-now and the physical, we'll respond to challenges, struggles, accusations, words, people as though our comfort and earthly status is all important. But when we think on eternal things, those things which are important to God (such as people's souls, love, hope, truth) we won't be so prone to have to win, to defend ourselves, to set someone straight, to look good, to earn approval, to satisfy our flesh.
- you must be changed by God from the inside out. Romans 12:1-2 tells us this transformation begins by being surrendered to God and dying to self, but it continuously happens by insulating ourselves from the world's system and steeping ourselves in the things of God. I suggest we do that by immersing ourselves in a local body of believers and daily exposure to His Word.
Surely there is more we could add to this list of preconditions, but the bottom line is this. You can't live a self-disciplined, holy life on your own. No chance. But as we grow in relationship with the Living God, we can change. We truly can. And we can resist. Why? Because God is for us. He wants us to grow and be victorious and do right. And when we cooperate with Him from the inside out, He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6)!
What biblical conditions help you to live victoriously and resist the urge? Which of these principles I've listed here do you need to meditate on until it completely soaks in and transforms you? I'd love to know!
Labels: Christian walk, fruit-bearing, How to Resist the Urge, meditation, salvation, What's in Your Pack