Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sanctification - The Ongoing Struggle

The Ongoing Struggle With Sin And The Pursuit Of Sanctification:
A Matter Of Divine Purity Not Human Morality (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Realize what is going on: Why God continues to let you struggle with sin

Exodus 23:29-30 – Flesh goes slowly so that God gets the glory. Desolate land means the enemies are out, but Satan can come back stronger if we do not increase in our godliness (Luke 11:24-26); the beasts of pride and self-sufficiency can multiply and creep back in.

Psalm 73:21-23 / Ecclesiastes 3:18 – Having to deal with our flesh helps keep us in a state of repentance. Flesh keeps us reminded of how we are nothing without God, only brute beasts before Him.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Flesh has to be battled so that when we reach a place of victory or overcoming, we may help others in their struggles. This is why I struggled for so many years, now I can say with all assurance that God can deliver you from bondage.

2 Corinthians 4:6-18 – To keep us in communion with Christ. We realize our flesh man is dying to Christ, and that we are being renewed in strength in our new, everlasting man.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – To keep us humble before God. We need him, and he is sufficient, this teaches us to trust and depend on him, and not our flesh or our senses.

Galatians 6:9 – To keep us active in service to Him, to keep us from becoming complacent. The struggle to become Christ-like is taking up our cross, by denying our own struggles and going to help others in service.

Hebrews 12:1-11 – In order to change our character. This is a big one, because people believe that trials mean only those things God allows, not our own fleshy sins. We acted badly, and so now we are condemned, believing that we have no right to pursue fellowship until we can “control” ourselves. But what do Romans 7 and Philippians 3 teach?

Sometimes God allows Satan or circumstances to stir up sin so that we may see that we are to die to flesh daily. The chastening is for sinners (vs.4), not “holy people” who are suffering persecution; the promises are applicable to all of us “vile offenders” out there. We are not to draw back, but to draw near (Hebrews 4:16 / 10:22 / James 4:8).

The fact that you are struggling with the flesh is a good sign. You can see what your flesh is really like, your spirit man hates sin, and this is motivation to press on. You are actually coming to a place of overcoming, a victorious testimony and a new level in God IF YOU CHOOSE TO.

Breaking out of bondage: Inner vision and positive confession

One of the keys to breaking out of bondage is by seeing yourself doing so. How we see ourselves influences the way we think and the actions we take. The pictures that we have on the inside of us determine who we are, as far as our daily walk is concerned.

We need to understand our union with Christ (Romans 8:9-16 / 1 Corinthians 1:30 / 1 Corinthians 6:17-19 / 2 Corinthians 6:16 / Galatians 2:20 / Ephesians 3:17 / Colossians 1:27). We must believe that we are what God says we are, and cast down thoughts of doubt (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Along with this, the affirmation given by verbalizing our success expedites the process. We must develop a confidence in God and His promises in order to stand firm in faith, expecting that God will do as He says He will. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).

Realize that the flesh will not get better: We are to focus on the “new man”

Matthew 26:41 – Our flesh cannot obey God (Romans 8:7).

Romans 7:17-25 – The old man of sin still exists in our flesh; it is him who sins, not us. Yes we are responsible for sin, but we must realize where it originates and deal with keeping our focus on the new man, building up that life so that the old life has no place.

Galatians 5:16-17 – The problem for many is that they keep coming to the altar to consecrate the old dead flesh instead of consecrating the new man. Our flesh isn’t sanctified, and will not be sanctified; it must be mortified (Romans 8:13).

Because of this wrong belief, we keep on trying to make our flesh better, practicing “sin management”, instead of transformation. Your spirit, the “new man” is able to follow after God, but your dead flesh is still there, wanting to be reincarnated every day.

Instead of reincarnation, we need to be living in resurrection power (Philippians 3:10). It is not you, the true you, the one that will live with God everlasting that is the problem, it is the old man, who was crucified on the cross with Christ. He isn’t coming with you to Glory. Don’t let him live your new life in Christ now (Colossians 3:1-5). Submit to the resurrection power of Jesus.

Realize the traditional way of fighting sin is wrong: It puts the cart before the horse

1 John 2:3-5 – We have an epidemic of spiritual dyslexia in the church today. We believe that we must keep the commandments first, before we can know God. But these verses say the exact opposite. When we know God and His love we keep the commandments. If we aren’t progressing it is because we aren’t progressing in the knowledge of God’s love for us.

The solar system example – In the dark ages we believed that the sun and the planets revolved around the earth, that we were the center of the solar system. When the truth was realized, that the earth and the planets revolved around the sun, that is when scientific advancement was made, mathematics and all sorts of knowledge depended upon this discovery.

Today we live in a “soular system” where many believe that they are the center of the system, and that the Son and the planets (our members) revolve around them. Our focus is wrong; Christ does not revolve around us, we revolve around him. If we discover this fact that ourselves (the earth) and our bodies (the planets) revolve around the sun (Jesus), we will see that how we go about trying to tame sin is just not right. We ought to focus on the source of power not our power to be good in order to stay in orbit. We must focus on Jesus, and growing in the knowledge of Him first, not on battling sin first. God requires PERFECTION: only Jesus has it.

John 16:9-11 – The Holy Spirit is supposed to be a positive force for the believer, but we do not think of Him that way. This is why Jesus explained these verses, because he knew that people would misinterpret them. The Spirit convicts us of not fellowshipping, of unbelief, that is the sin we are convicted of, the other sins are just a manifestation of this, and they are all already paid for. “Of righteousness” reminds us of His indwelling.

The genesis of ongoing sin, unbelief, the old man, not the act itself, is the main problem. What did Jesus say, “but I say unto you, that if you look upon a woman”. You can be holy without believing Jesus, the Pharisees proved that, and many atheists and Mormons are some of the most holy people around! No, the Holy Spirit is leading us back to fellowship with Christ saying, “Why did you steal that, you know that God will provide, repent and trust in Jesus”, not condemning you to hell. The conviction of the Spirit is for confession and conformity.

John 17:15 / Acts 4:29-31 / Galatians 5:16-17 – The flesh doesn’t go away easily or altogether. We fight and fight and fight and get frustrated, always asking for God to remove something instead of asking for power and peace.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 – We have liberty and we must trust that God will do what he says. We would probably worry less about what people think of us if we realized how seldom they do think of us. Don’t compare yourself with others in your growth (2 Corinthians 10:12).

Colossians 2:20-23 / 1 Timothy 4:3-9 – Holiness starts in the heart, not in the hands. We fight the wrong battle when we try and tame the flesh; we are to keep it dead (Romans 6:4-7). Not being our best selves, but our new selves; Jesus living His life through us.

Realize that to renew your mind is to walk in the Spirit: The head controls the body

John 8:31-32 – We need to build spiritual muscle before we trim sinful fat. Body building example – I was reading a muscle magazine where a famous bodybuilder was asked about losing weight, and getting into contest shape. She said that you should never diet first, just start building muscle, and eventually you will know when you need to start dieting. To focus on dieting first was to miss the point. Also, if you gain muscle, you burn fat at a faster rate even when you sleep. The point about bodybuilding is exactly that, building your body first, then sculpting later. The whole process of building up makes trimming off the unwanted fat much easier. We must build up in the Word if we want to be conformed.

Romans 6:11-14 – We do have a chance, we do have a choice, and we must renew our minds so that we will believe what God says in his Word. These truths cannot be merely taught they must be caught.

Chair example – The head rules the body, just like Christ, the head of the church, rules the body of believers. If Satan has us under his thumb, we can’t stand up unless we move our heads first. Use your head, renew your mind, and change your center of gravity, the focus of our weight (thought).

John 17:17 / Romans 5:9-10 / Galatians 5:6,14 / Ephesians 3:14-19 – Growing in the knowledge of His life and His love by meditating upon the Word yields results. We fulfill the law by loving others.

Romans 13:14 / Ephesians 5:18 – Fighting off sin by being filled with the Spirit is like an a/c unit not a leaky bucket. It isn’t the traditional way of looking at being filled, where we are a leaky bucket that needs more water. It is more like a house (which we are) that has an a/c unit (like the Spirit, which we do) already. If we keep the door closed, the a/c cools off that room okay, but the rest of the house is still hot. If we keep the doors (of our heart) open, the flow will keep the whole house the right temperature. We don’t need “more” we need to let the Spirit flow, to emerge within us. Then Christ begins to appear in our lives in power.

Romans 8:28-29 / 1 John 5:4 – “Everything” brings out the worst which should make you realize that it is the flesh, not people or circumstances that need to be dealt with. Faith in Christ is victory.

Romans 12:2 / Ephesians 4:23 / Colossians 3:16 / 2 Peter 1:2-3 – Renew your mind; get the Word about a transformed life into your heart. Put on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Proverbs 15:3 / Proverbs 16:6 – Coram Deo – Practice the presence of Christ. The face of Jesus example – Have you ever seen the Jesus film by Campus Crusade for Christ? When Peter denied Jesus for the third time, and just then he sees Jesus being drug out in bondage, looking directly at Peter’s eyes in the most hurt way; I’m telling you, it will revolutionize your life if you will just picture the face of Jesus staring back at you with those wounded eyes!

Imagine Jesus being right there, because He is. There is no way that you can sin willfully while you are in present communion with Christ. Can you imagine a man about to commit adultery telling the other woman, “Wait, let’s pray to God before we do this and ask His blessing?” Sin is about breaking fellowship with God, and if we practice His presence, we can help eliminate much sin.

If we don’t listen to those God puts in our path to teach us, we aren’t listening to God (Matthew 10:40 / Luke 10:16 / John 13:20). Please pray to “catch the vision” (Ephesians 1:16-19)!

Realize God still loves you: He wants fellowship and He will work His power in you

Psalm 136 – He is full of mercies that are renewed every morning.

Isaiah 26:3 – Keeping our mind on God is the way to peace.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – God has our best interests in mind.

Matthew 11:28 – Jesus is our rest if we believe.

John 14:27 – The world’s peace is absence of conflict, but God’s peace is an inner assurance that all is well despite circumstances.

Romans 5:1 – We have peace with God, not with our flesh.

Romans 8:1 – Don’t feel condemned, you’re disagreeing with God.

2 Corinthians 13:5,11 – The fact that you are examining yourself is proof that you care and that the Spirit is working in you.

Galatians 2:20 – We can overcome if we let Christ live in us.

Philippians 1:6 – God will do what He says; He finishes what He starts.

Philippians 2:13 – He is the one who works upon our actions.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Worry is a lack of trust in God.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – God will conform us into His image.

2 Timothy 2:11 – Jesus’ life is our life and power.

Hebrews 9:14 – The sacrifice was for our justification, but also for our sanctification.

We must not condone or compromise with sin; but we must bring courage and compassion to the sinner

Conviction is not for condemnation, it is for confession and crucifixion which brings conformity to and communion with Christ

Conscience gives us the chance to make the choice for change

The cross is where our commitment must be if we are to continue to be consecrated

Crisis events can only bring change if we attach concrete actions to them

Confession without commitment to consecration is a cancer that brings catastrophe

Continued rebellion causes the conscience to become crippled

Counterfeit Christ’s control and corrupt the conduct and character of those who don’t crucify the flesh

Contempt for God is shown by those who use grace as a cloak for sin

Consideration regarding liberty should be shown towards converts

Realize that you must stay in contact with the Word

If we’re not in the Word of God, then we’re not in the will of God, so we won’t have the wisdom of God, therefore we will be taken captive by the wiles of the devil and the wants of the flesh

There is no reason for you to believe that you will be successful in Spiritual warfare without having your sword sharpened and your armor on (Ephesians 6:10-18). If we are in an intimate, present reality, dynamic relationship with Christ, we will be invincible. But when we look away from Jesus we, like Peter, begin to see the storms of life, and sink under our own weight of unbelief.

God wants communion with us; if we become lax in our prayer life and Bible study, no matter how long we have been a Christian or how many verses we have memorized, our flow will be hampered. It is our constant communion with God that gives the Word its power; otherwise, the Holy Spirit will not be present, leaving the Word as the dead letter, ineffective to us. After all, do you not agree that it is the Spirit that gives life and that to stop the flow of communication means that using the Bible becomes an exercise in our own strength? You can’t bottle the anointing (Exodus 16:15-21), that is why we are to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).

The wisdom from God is predicated upon a present tense relationship with Him. No amount of “build up” or maturity can take this fact away. Want proof? How about Solomon: Once he strayed from God, he sank into apostasy. If it can happen to the wisest man who ever lived, then surely it can happen to us.

Modern day examples abound. Consider the great preachers who had anointing by the barrelful yet fell all the way down the mountain because they trusted in the past without tending to the present, treating God as a means to an end, rather than their relationship with Him being the purpose itself.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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