There are times that come to us all when we are really struggling with a particular sin that seems to loom before us like a tidal wave. Or maybe it is a whole set of sins that are threatening to immerse us. It seems that we are wading thru neck deep mud and only making slow progress, or, sometimes, no progress at all.
Then something happens! A thought comes to mind and we are suddenly invigorated with new-found strength! We make a firm resolution in our mind to stand staunchly against this sin and overcome. And we march away gaining victory over sin and live happily ever after in perfect holiness!
This is not likely a description of your walk. More often, if you are like me, you may get just a little bit down the road, just enough to get excited that you might be on to something, when along comes a temptation hand-crafted it seems to hit you in just the right way, and like David of old down you fall flat on your face back in the mud you thought you had escaped.
What went wrong? We can try to jump back up and keep trucking, and we should do that, but while jumping back up lets take a careful look at our lives to see if anything is askew.
I guess what I am getting at is this. If we fight this war on the misguided foundation of our own strength of will we will fail time and again. And fail badly.
Why is this?
We humans are selfish. We are about us and our own ways. Whenever God’s word gives a reference to the natural heart of man it is never good. “At war with God”. We “hate the light and will not come to the light”. Our hearts are “desperately wicked”. And we could go on and on. We are not content to dwell under the law of God because we want to pave our own road.
And though we have been redeemed and made new creations we still dwell within these bodies of flesh and are still subject to its temptations. Romans 7:14-24 details this struggle for Paul. Even while saved we still deal with the tendencies to run off God’s way and do it our way.
But how does this relate to our failure to gain victory in these situations? What I am arguing for is this. When we hype ourselves up, when we grit our teeth and vow to fight on, all too often we are running off the path God has ordained for victory to be obtained and are fighting sin “our way”. We are warring with sin our own way. Fighting God’s war without listening to the General’s orders.
What we do is throw to the wind all that God’s word tells us of how weak we are and how only He can defeat sin. Because we are not carefully studying His word and applying it to our lives we forget that we will, when fighting on our own strength, fall woefully short. Christ is the only one who can save, not only from the penalties of our sin, but also the current power of that sin. We are the ones being saved. He is the mighty savior!
Christ-centered sanctification is, well, just that. It is focusing on His strength, and His holiness, and His eternal worth, and getting our eyes off of ourselves and any stupid little three step plan or trick of the trade. When we run to Him, when we glory in Him and get our eyes off of our own resolve, then He saves! God is glorified by saving a man who knows his own weakness and cries out for help! Think of our condition before we were initially converted. It was solely by His grace that we were moved to pursue Him. Solely by His grace that our eyes were opened to perceive the depths of our sin. And solely by His grace that Christ’s blood was applied to our account and we were justified! God was glorified by saving a man who could not save himself. And the same is true now. God saves the humble. We must cry out to Him, recognizing our lost condition without Him, relying only on His strength and then He will mightily save!
We need to ground ourselves in the teachings of God’s word on this. Preaching this truth to ourselves daily, and not just this but the whole of the gospel, is so important to walking in victory. I find that often going back to read romans 6, 7 and 8 refreshes me greatly.
Ground yourself in God’s word. Trust only in His grace and strength. Then, and only then, will victory come.
For the King,