Wow! Kim has us really pondering some LIFE saving "stuff" again this week at the Chat! We are again talking about the area of bondage and freedom....areas unfortunately, (or I guess fortunately for my spiritual growth!) I have MUCH experience with. Feel free to read last week's post and my testimony above to hear about my struggles and God's victory! I went through several years of struggling with bondage and God setting me free....
On my journey to freedom, I spent a lot of time in Romans....especially Romans chapters 6, 7, and 8. In chapter 6, I learned that I am DEAD to sin because of the blood of Jesus Christ. I no longer had to be in bondage to it!
I have been buried in Christ, sin in me has been buried with Him "that I may live a new life."
"The OLD SELF has been crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be SLAVES to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." SIN is already defeated!!!!! I must choose to NOT allow it to have power over me! "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. For sin shall NOT BE your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."
Grace gives us the power to break free from sin! (More on that below). I have "been set free from sin and have become SLAVES to righteousness." I am not in bondage to SIN, but I am bound in righteousness.... "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God (hmmmm), the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."
Romans Chapter 7 goes on to talk about our struggle with sin. Paul says, "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Oh, how I understand this verse!!!!!!
"When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law (my spirit longs, yearns to live in freedom) but I see another law at work...waging war against me (oh, how I know that!).....what a wretched man am I! Who will rescue me from this body of DEATH? Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
And, finally, in Chapter 8, we see that there is life (and freedom) in the Spirit! "Therefore there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life SET ME FREE from the law of sin of death." Paul goes through this chapter teaching us about living in the Spirit (and "where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom."2 Corinthians 3:17) He tells us that the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!!!!! THAT is power!!! Can we get a hold of that??? That power LIVES IN ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Paul goes on to encourage us in WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST.
"If God is for us, who can be against us?" If I have the MOST HIGH GOD fighting my battles, His POWER in ME, then no food, no fear, no temptation, no addiction can have a hold of me!
"I am MORE than a conqueror through Him who loved me!"
MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!
That means I am not a WIMP!
God encouraged me through all of this that HE HAD DONE EVERYTHING that needed to be done. I am already FREE. The blood of Christ HAD ALREADY (past tense) done it. Now, it was up to ME to walk in it!
Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. (Just as I choose to physically clothe myself, I choose to CLOTHE MYSELF). Put on your garments of splendor. (Christ's blood clothes me in righteousness....in splendor). The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. FREE YOURSELF from the chains on you neck, O captive Daughter of Zion. -Isaiah 52:1-2
How many of us are just sitting around, feeling sorry for ourselves, thinking, "I can't do it. It's too hard. I'm too weak."
Yes, YOU are too weak. But, YOU are NOT depending on YOUR STRENGTH- YOU HAVE THE MOST HIGH AS YOUR GOD...AS YOUR STRENGTH!!!
It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then and DO NOT LET YOURSELVES be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Christ shed His blood so that we would be FREE...not just in heaven but here on earth!
We must put off this wrong thinking...wrong believing..
"...put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:24
If I am created to be like God....I know Jesus was NOT in bondage to anything...He walked in freedom.
God taught me that I had to NAME the lies in my head that were bringing defeat.
You're fat anyway. You've already dug a hole, go ahead and eat. It will make you feel better.
You are a failure. You are not good enough.
It was not enough to recognize the lies of the enemy, but I had to replace them with TRUTH.
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power TO DEMOLISH STRONGHOLDS. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, AND WE TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE TO MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST." 2Corinthians 10:5-6
I needed to STOP....recognize the lie....cast it down...and REPLACE it with Truth.
Not only have I battled food and body image, but I have also battled with losing my temper. This is an excerpt from a woman's conference I did on exactly on this topic, FREEDOM IN CHRIST. I pray that it encourages you. Please visit the cafe to chat about this very important topic, walking in FREEDOM! Blessings!FREEDOM IN CHRIST:
The message heavy on my heart- what I so want all of you to get a hold of is this- grace empowers us.
Faith in Jesus Christ gives us power to walk in freedom as the women God created us to be. We DO NOT have to be addicted to shopping or exercise. We don't’ have to be in bondage to food, alcohol, pleasing others, or anger.
I know that I had come to a point in my life, a point in my faith walk- a point of frustration. I felt like a failure. I did not like who I was as a Christian. I saw myself and I saw who I wanted to be. I read His Word and His promises and I wanted to be what I saw in the Word.
Like 1 Cor., I wanted to be patient and kind, not easily angered, self-seeking or proud. I wanted the fruit of Spirit I read in Galatians- “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” I wanted to be like the woman of 1Peter who was beautiful because of her gentle and quiet spirit. I knew God’s promises and truths, so WHY couldn’t I control myself? I had “quiet times” in the mornings- why weren’t they working?! I felt like, here I am a CHRISTIAN and my family can’t see Christ in me. I felt like the harder I tried, the worse I did.
I’m a mom of 4 children(this was written before Abigail)- ages 2 to 9. I had found myself losing my temper with them and yelling. That made me feel horrible. I felt like such a hypocrite. Here I am this “godly” woman- Bible Study leader, Sunday School teacher- a wonderful, loving person to everyone around- except my family. I found myself getting so angry with my kids and shouting at them at the top of my lungs, but being worried that the neighbors heard me- not what I was doing to my own kids! The worst times were right before school. I was trying to get everyone packed up and ready and out the door on time. But, we were continually leaving later and later, so I would turn into Monster Mom and begin yelling at them to move faster. It would always end up with them crying, me crying, me saying that I was sorry, them saying sorry, lots of hugging and kissing. Then I would come home from dropping them at school, crying, defeated, feeling like a complete failure- I had done it again.
I knew I was wrong. I hated my yelling. I hated myself for doing it. Why couldn’t I control myself? Why couldn’t I tap into God’s power? I felt like a failure as a mom and as a Christian. How many times do we feel like failures as Christian women?
Well, the climax came last winter. I was outside in the driveway shoveling snow. I had just blown it again with the kids. I was crying. It was cold, so my nose was running. It was not a pretty picture! Through my tears, I cried to the Lord, “God, I CAN NOT come to you again with this. I can’t ask you to forgive me AGAIN for this same thing, over and over and over again. You have got to be so sick and tired of hearing the same thing over and over.”
I felt like I needed to get my act together 1st. I needed to clean myself up- be a better mom- THEN I could go to God and ask Him to forgive me. WHOA-did I have it backwards! God spoke to my heart- it was like He ZAPPED me! He said, “Tracy- didn’t I give it all to you already? I gave you my son to die for you to purify you, to cleanse you, to make you as white as this snow! Jesus has done it all already. What more could be done? What sacrifice for sin is left? He cleanses with HIS BLOOD. He died- it was the ultimate sacrifice. There’s nothing more you can do, Tracy. There’s nothing more that CAN be done- I have done it all. And, it is insulting to Me that you think anything you can do could be enough. The blood of Jesus is enough.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
It was then that I began to realize I couldn’t do things in my own strength- but I had the power and the strength living within me. I had all the strength I needed- not Tracy’s strength but the strength of the Most High God living within me. God began to show me that I had the power to control my temper- the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ladies, this is the same POWER that raised Jesus from the dead! And at the very point I was tempted to get mad and yell, I heard, and began listening to that still small voice within me saying, “Tracy, calm down. You do not have to get mad. You do not have to lose your temper. It is your choice. Do not choose to do it.”
Now you may thinking, “Oh, Tracy you don’t know me. I don’t have a choice. It just happens. I am just made that way. It’s just my personality.”
Ladies, those are lies from the enemy trying to keep you down. You see, “He who is in me (Jesus) is greater than He who is the world (the evil one, temptation). '’ God's Word says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are being tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
You see I had to take hold of that power- I couldn’t do it in my own strength- but I could do it through God. God told me that I had to bring Him in to those times of blowing up- to come to Him for help at that point- not afterwards, but during. Ladies, God was telling me that it wasn’t enough to go to church on Sundays, bible study once a week, and have daily quiet times. I needed to cry out to Him in the midst of my trial. I needed to surrender my control over to God, to depend on His power and His might.
I needed to quote the word “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and “Be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen” and cry out to the Holy Spirit for help in the name of Jesus!
Ladies, where we are weak, He is strong! We have His Holy Spirit within us, empowering us. His word says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” 2Tim.1:7 Says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, of fawning fear, but a spirit of POWER, love, and self-discipline.” It goes on to say, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Ladies, there are so many scriptures that point us to the power of God. Peter says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life.” Ephesians talks about His incomparably great power for US who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength.” Colossians says we are ‘being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have endurance and patience and joyfully give thanks to the Father.”
But, many times it gets harder before it gets better. And, there is often suffering that takes place while we are being refined. BUT, ladies, it does get easier. Peter says in 1Peter 5:10-11, “And the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, He will himself restore you and make YOU STRONG, firm, and steadfast.” Ladies, we can’t give up. We must persevere. We have to hold on to the eternal glory. We have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus- our focus on Him- not us2Cor. 4:16 says, “Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (Did you hear that ladies? We are being renewed daily!) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” So, for me, every time I called upon the Holy Spirit, praying God’s will into my situation and declaring His promises through scripture- it became easier and easier to let go of the anger. But, ladies, it was never through my power and strength, but by His power and His strength!
That is what I have been learning about grace. Grace is so much more than being forgiven of sin, but the power to be the women God has created us to be! I love that! God’s grace grows! Peter says, “GROW in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” He wants our hearts to be strengthened by grace, as it says in Hebrews. The Lord does not want us to be in bondage to failure. He wants us to be free and full of joy. He gives us so much encouragement through His word. He calls us “more than conquerors.” His Word says “He equips us with everything good for doing His will.” We have got to start tapping in to this power! Ladies, this power within us is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! His Word says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires- it’s dead, let it go!- since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Ladies, we have the Holy Spirit- the Most High God LIVING within us! What else would we need?!!!! God has given us all we will ever need.
Today, if you are feeling like a failure, feeling like you have blown it again, remember- you are a new CREATION in Christ Jesus. The old has gone, the new has come! If you are feeling hopeless today, please take heart. There is hope. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. You may not see yourself right now as the person you want to be- but faith is being sure of what we hope for! Not faith in ourselves or in other people or the world, as I am sure many of you have found out, but faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Ladies, salvation is so much more than going to heaven when we die- although THAT IN AND OF ITSELF IS GLORIOUS AND WORTH ACCEPTING OUR SAVIOR- but, it is also about living in His saving grace and freedom here on earth! Jesus wants to release us from bondage, depression, fear, doubt, mediocrity… Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves again be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”
Ladies, I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.” Amen.