Are you tired? Are you overwhelmed? Are you unhappy? Are you stressed? Are you feeling like you will never get ahead? Always struggling? Defeated? You’ve tried to make changes but they never last? Life seems to be more surviving or striving than thriving? Why can’t you break that one bad habit that nags at you? Lonely? No one gets you? Understands you? Comparison is your battle and makes you feel less than? Do you feel like you self-sabotage your efforts in life? Getting out of your own way is a constant battle? FEAR? Fear failure? Fear success? Fear of what others think? Fear of sounding dumb? So many fears? Lack of discipline? Laziness a struggle?
This list can go on and on… I asked this question earlier this week on Facebook:
If you could put a name to the one thing that holds you back from doing new things, making changes in your life, or just simply doing things differently, what would it be?
The questions above were every actual answer to my question. Everything.
What if I told you only 2 reasons lie behind the struggle above? Yep. Only 2……..
Let’s talk sin first. Rip the band-aid. Oh yes my sweet friend. I so went there. This one hurts. I used the three little word that no one wants to talk about much less face. Why? Associated with it is the feelings of shame, guilt, condemnation, and just ick. But, what if I told you that there was no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Are you a believer in Christ? There is hope. For those who are believers this one little word, sin, represents actual freedom for you? HOPE. Well, what we do with it represents hope and freedom. There is so much I could say on this subject but I can’t tell you all the things, at least not here. But there are two truths I want you to know about this little ugly word.
- all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
- and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Both of these truths packed right inside two little verses in the Bible – Romans 3:23-24. What is sin? It is anything that grieves the heart of God. God has a standard, a mark, which he sets to be right. When we come up short of this mark, we have sinned. It is that simple. And often these are ugly things or could be things we don’t even notice – just subtle slip-ups. Sins can be as awful as murder and robbing to the more subtle things that keep us in defeat – unbelief and pride. The spectrum is wide. And only we know when it is an issue. There is a spirit living within us when become believers that begins to show us where we could do better. We feel the nudging. We know our things. If not, spend sometime being still, you will see and feel those things. And often it is the same sin over and over and over again rearing its ugly head as the way of the Lord asking for us to deal with it. He does this not to punish us or condemn us (remember there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus) but to convict us. Condemnation only leads to shame and guilt. Conviction leads us to a solution, a change. There is hope. God provides a way to turn and do better. Why? Because he knows beyond the conviction there is freedom and more abundance. And, yes ALL of us have sinned. ALL have come short of the glory of God. It is our nature. God wired us this way so we have choices. What good is a child’s love and obedience if you have to make them love and obey you? God knows this. He wants us to choose His way (love and obedience) not be His puppets.
The second truth above is this we have all are JUSTIFIED freely by His grace and redemption through His son Jesus Christ. So hang with me for a minute. So many churchy big words in this truth. Justified? What the heck does that even mean? Justified means to make right. You see God is Holy. He is the only one in this world that is completely holy and blameless and perfect. Because of this, to be in his presence and have a relationship with Him we must be made holy and right. And yes, He wants a relationship with us. Glory! The whole gospel is about Him woo’ing us back to him for this very thing – a relationship. It is not about religion. It is not about the thou’s or the thou not’s. It is about a beautiful love story, a relationship. Back to the point, for us to be able to come into His presence we must be made right and holy. And now is when you are like, ugh. I will never be that! Right, perfect, holy. Peace I am out. But hold up sister, brother! Hold up! Here is where the love and grace of God step in! You don’t have to strive to be right! You were made right by the blood of Jesus that was shed on a cross for you. He is blameless. He is sinless. His unblemished. He JUSTIFIES us. He makes us right. And you ask how? A sacrifice was made on your behalf. Jesus death on the cross was the offering given on your behalf to His father to make you able to come into a right relationship with the One true God that is holy and perfect. Do you see it? Stop the striving. Stop the surviving. Repent of the sin. Repent – to turn away. Just confess it and lay it down sweet friend. Let Jesus pick up your guilt and your shame. He took it upon himself when He died upon the cross. You can’t earn it . You can’t work for it. You can’t achieve it. It is a free gift. GRACE. REDEMPTION. To redeem is to gain or regain something in exchange for a payment. You gain freedom. You regain your sanity. You gain abundance. You gain blessings. You regain your right standing with God lost by our sin nature. All this gain is through the cross. All this gain is when we believe on the name of Jesus and what He was sent her to do. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. So you see friends, sin, will always be a problem as long as we live in a fallen crazy world. But there is hope. Many of our shortcomings are solved through two small but such impactful actions – BELIEF and REPENTENCE. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 And while you can only be saved once, and then ushered into an adventure of following God and to his blessings of eternal life after this life, you still must come to Him everyday and confess your sins of apathy, gluttony, laziness, unbelief, gossip, idoltry (putting other things before God), pride, etc. We all struggle with these things. But through a daily act of giving them to God and acting in obedience to the ways He shows you to do better, you will find freedom. Renew yourself everyday – be made new in your thinking and actions everyday. See how freeing this can be! Your heart begins to change. Then, before you know it, from that well-spring, the heart, comes better and right thinking. And from that better and right thinking comes better and right actions. And you guessed it – It all begins in the heart change that begins with repenting. Sin is indeed an ugly thing, but the action we do with it can be an awesome thing. It is a word that attaches with it so much hope because God provides a way, a beautiful way to live in freedom.
And as for as Satan, the other reason behind our struggle, sometimes we can confess all the sins in the world, and still we find ourselves in a place of fear and self-doubt and frustration. And here is where you must know there is a battle beyond you being fought. Do not dismiss this thought as something kooky or strange. It is truth.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12.
And you ask so if there is a Satan and he is coming to rob me of joy, peace, faith, love, and all things good and holy, then what am I to do? It seems so hopeless.
No my child! No! No! No! God fights for us! He does. We end. He begins. But He does ask one thing of us. STAND. Over and over and over again through the stories of the Old Testament where the people of Israel stood strong on the promises of God, God came through for them. Over and over and over again Paul tells us in his words to the early churches in Acts and again to the church of Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, etc . He reminds them to STAND on God’s truth and promises. The best passage to show you how to do this is in Ephesians 6. Specific instructions lie there on how to take up your weapons of offense – prayer and the word of God and then how to put on your defensive armor. God does the big fighting, the heavy lifting. But, He does count on us to be thankful in all things, pray in all things, and to know His promises, the Word of God. You do these things you will see the enemy, Satan, flee from areas of your life. Sometimes he leaves as quick as he came in. And sometimes it takes standing over and over and over again. But this I know. God is the victor. He wins! He wins! He wins!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
” …everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4
Or maybe a combo of both.
This is what is behind everything that stops us. Go after these things and you will see victory. You will live life more abundantly. You will look up and realize you are doing things you never thought were possible, things that used to make you feel defeated, lonely, hopeless, or simply impeding your progress from living your best life.
To God the Glory! There is hope!
Note: If you are finding yourself in a place of loneliness or despair and by self-examination, talking with a wise Godly counsel, and in prayer and you cannot shake these feelings, please consult a physician as there can also be medical reasons for this. This blog entry is in no way trying to discount the need for medical attention if you should need it. This is purely addressing some of the issues that stop us from living our best life from a spiritual viewpoint.