Being Done With Lesser Things
Sometimes I get discouraged – not necessarily because of what may not be going right in my world – but because of me! I get discouraged because it seems like I allow the same things, over and over, to trip me up and cause me to stumble in my Christian walk. Is it just me? Or do you, too, find yourself asking forgiveness for the same kinds of things over and over? If so, know that we are not alone. Even Paul, the one called by God to carry His message to the Gentile world, described his own frustration with sinfulness. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15). And then he exclaimed: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
Who will deliver us? The truth is Christ has already delivered us. Paul identified the deliverer – “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25). When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have victory over sin through Him. Then why do I keep on doing the same things that I don’t want to do? I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior. I love Him with all my heart and want to live for Him. Why do I do the things I do?
My confusion reminds me of the small child who slipped a quarter in her pocket from the change cup in her Dad’s office break room. When her Dad realized what she had done, she began to cry and immediately returned it. “Why did you do it?” her Dad asked. “All you had to do was ask me for a quarter.”
“I don’t know,” the little girl stammered, “it was just there!”
Sin is like that. It’s just there. And while Satan is not omniscient and he cannot read our minds and thoughts, the Bible affirms that he is a master of deception. Jesus Himself stated that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44b). Satan has sought to deceive, entice, and tempt mankind ever since his encounter with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Make no mistake. He is still out to attack and tempt us where we are the most weak and vulnerable. He is our adversary – not for us, but against us. He wants to destroy us and our witness for Christ. Peter reminds us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Just like that little girl, sometimes we give in to sin because “it is just there.” It doesn’t have to be something that we plan or willfully engage. It could be as simple as someone cutting us off in traffic and we respond in anger. Perhaps we are slighted or hurt by a fellow Christian and we become defensive and critical. We may be running late and grow impatient with others who get in our way. Sin is not always the premeditated evil that someone seeks and plans to do. Oftentimes it is the result of situations and things that are just there and we respond in the flesh.
I’m learning in my own Christian walk to recognize some of the things that threaten to instantly put my brain on autopilot and leave me ashamed and seeking forgiveness. You could probably make a list, too, although yours would probably be different from mine. What’s on our lists really doesn’t matter, but the fact that it allows Satan to have victory over us in these areas matters a lot. Every time I fail, Satan wins. It’s time to be done with all these lesser things that not only affect me, but more importantly, that damage my witness for Christ.
So how do I live victoriously? The truth is I can’t – that is, not by myself and in my own strength. But I have a helper. As Jesus prepared to leave His disciples, He told them: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, the Holy Spirit took up residence in my heart and life to help me live the life that God calls me to live. My fleshly nature doesn’t always like Him being there. My fleshly nature wants to argue, get my own way, return insult for insult – you get the picture. But the Spirit within me reminds me who my Father is and how He wants me to live. He convicts me when I live contrary to the way God wants me to live, leads me to repentance, and helps me get back on the right track.
This struggle between our flesh and spirit is one that we will continually deal with here on earth, but the closer we stay to the Father and the more we abide in Him (studying His Word, obeying His teaching, walking and talking with Him in prayer), the more battles we will win. Paul states it simply: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The only way we can live consistently and overcome the fleshly desires and responses that war within us is to walk in the power of the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit, we yield to the Spirit and allow Him to ….
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
“ And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (John 14:1-6).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Spirit works to accomplish His work in us and through us – something that we could never do in our own power or strength. And as we yield to Him, we begin to act and look more like Christ – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed”(1 Peter 2:21-24).
When I think of all that Christ went through for me, the slights and offenses I may suffer are as insignificant as that quarter swiped by the little girl. I think it’s time to be done with all these lesser things. Instead may I commit myself “to Him who judges righteously,” and may I seek to “live for righteousness” every day as I walk in the Spirit.
“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”