In my last post, we discussed overcoming the enemy and what is required in order to do that. Today, I want to talk about the truth that was fully revealed to me through prayer. This came about in an interesting way. As many of us do from time-to-time, I was struggling with a particular sin that I’ve struggled with since I was a very little kid. Some of this has to do with both generational sin in my family, as well as some things that happened in my life when I was really young.
Each time, I failed with this issue, there was a pretty similar cycle that took place. I would ask God for forgiveness, repent, and resolve to do better of my own fruition the next time. I always have been pretty beaten up about it when I fail in this area. I have submitted to God, asked God to help me overcome the issue, and still I’ve struggled with it.
I just flat out said to God, “Okay, I don’t get this. I’ve done my best to submit to you in this area, I have resisted the enemy repeatedly in this area, I don’t want to do this in my heart, my mind is resolved not to do it, and yet I still struggle with it – what’s going on?”
I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to Romans chapter 7 as I had recalled Paul speaking about something similar in the past, that had never really made sense to me before.
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. ”
What Paul is alluding to here (and he will back it up with further context later), is that each of us has two different realities working against each other in the same vessel.
- One is spiritual and is of God, renewed and reborn in Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
- The other is of this world, the flesh that we see and others see
In this portion he nails this point home further:
“For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Chapter 7 ends with a cliffhanging question. If we know that the body is sinful, and fights against the spiritual reality inside of us – who then can save us from our sin?
Chapter 8 picks up to answer this question for us:
‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus,because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did.
He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. ‘
Now, if you’re a Christian, you’ve may have heard this before.
Paul is saying that even though our own flesh was unable to be reconciled to God by fulfilling the law in our own flesh, God sent his son Jesus, to fulfill the law, in flesh (by committing no sin), and giving his life for our lives, that the requirement of the law would be fulfilled, and we would be reconciled to God as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Because of Jesus’ obedience to the law, and the sacrifice of his own life, he created the way to be reconciled to God. God, in turn, raised Jesus from the dead (which we celebrated on Easter Sunday) to show that death no longer has a hold on those who are declared righteous through faith in what God accomplished through Jesus.
This reality is the truth that sets everyone free – once they come to fully recognize what it really means.
Now this truth, that is indeed the truth, is where many people of faith stop paying attention. Many simply look at this and say, “Okay, so as long as I confess Jesus as Lord and accept him as your Lord and Savior, get baptized, and go to church every once in a while, I’m good. I’m going to heaven and can go back to being myself otherwise.”
This is a false narrative and one that is leading many astray. Many will even quote Romans 10:13 which says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The first part of Romans 10 in my Bible opens up and says “righteousness by faith alone” as the header (these headers were not in the original text btw and have been added, there weren’t even chapters in Paul’s letters). They can be very misleading.
If righteousness came by faith alone, why would John the Baptist make the way straight for Jesus’ coming by baptizing for repentance? Why would Jesus himself be baptized for repentance in front of everyone (Matthew 3:13-17)? Why would Jesus immediately go after being baptized and being confirmed by God in front of everyone, head directly to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4: 1 -11)? BTW, this is Jesus’ own example of “overcoming the devil” be submitting to God, resisting the Devil, and the Devil did flee from Jesus.
If righteousness comes by faith alone, why are Jesus’ first words in his public ministry after his temptation be
“Repent, because the Kingdom of Heaven has come near”
Matthew 4: 17
If righteousness comes by faith alone why would Jesus have this to say at the tail end of his most famous sermon, the sermon on the mount:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’
There are countless other examples throughout Jesus’ ministry, even in this sermon on the mount that make it incredibly clear that we must walk in obedience to God in addition to having faith in God and what he accomplished through Jesus to be saved.
That presented a real problem for me personally. No matter how many times I “repented” I still struggled with certain sins that plague many of us. The reason this is important falls in line with Matt 7:21 which says that only those who do this will of His Father in Heaven will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Well, it’s super clear that following God’s commands is important and so that’s got to be a part of his will for my life right? Jesus alludes to this himself in Matthew 5: 17-18
“Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished.”
So, in light of this truth, spoken by the very lamb whom God sent to be the sacrifice for my sins on the cross, it is clear that we must do what we can to truly repent of our sins and do the will of the Father. Accepting Jesus’ sacrifice is doing this will of the Father v1.0, repenting from our sins and changing our hearts to not want to sin is v1.1, doing this and walking by the Spirit of God is v2.0 of truly walking in relationship with Christ.
Sorry, but I had to set that up, so that you could understand how Paul’s book has another truth that truly set me free to an even deeper level. For the longest time, the enemy has been using the lie against me that God would never love me or do things for me because of the things I was doing. When I failed at them, it hit me really really hard, such that sometimes, I went the opposite way of what I was supposed to go and just gave up trying altogether (I know, not logical, but I’m sure at least a few of you reading this can relate).
The enemy made me believe that I was always going to be a slave to sin. That I would never get to where I needed to receive God’s blessing and favor. This was clearly a lie and a destructive one that was not from God as we have God’s promise that we can:
“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This promise is true as long as we are walking by the Spirit (which Paul also discusses in Romans 8:5).
The core issue here, was that I was not fully accepting who I am in Christ. Paul explains it perfectly here:
“Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you.”
Since we know that righteousness comes by faith in Christ (Romans 10), and I willingly gave up my life to Christ, as my Lord and Savior, that means that on that day, my flesh (which is under the law of sin) died. Harrison Watson, died that day. It is by the grace of the Holy Spirit alone that my body is even capable of moving. The Spirit gives my body life.
So then, since I owe the very fact that I am alive and moving to the fact that the Holy Spirit is giving my body life and the ability to move, I owe the God’s Holy Spirit my very life. Therefore, all that I do, and all that I am, is no longer me – but the Spirit of God who lives in me.
There is a spiritual battle going on in our minds every single day between “what Harrison wants” and what the Spirit wants. It is my only job to disregard fully the desires of myself and to simply follow that which the Spirit has for me that day.
I mean this very literally. We have access to the Father through this Spirit through prayer and the word of God (also called the sword of the Spirit). When a decision comes to me, instead of even worrying about what I want, I have one simple filter I need to apply – is this my idea or God’s will?
Through the Bible and prayer, we are given tools to discern the will of God. But this isn’t like a “big moments only” thing. We have to literally work with God for our every decision throughout the day.
Things even seemingly small like:
- “Am I supposed to go to the store right now?”
- “Should I watch TV or do you have something else you need for me to do God?”
- “What is it that you want for me to do with my minutes/hour/day today?”
This is how we are able to walk in a relationship with God, this is how God is able to be able to say at the end of the day that “He knew us” (referencing Matt 7:23). When we are doing this, we have access to all the promises of God.
Christians sometimes call this “dying to self” but the truth of the matter is, the day you were baptized and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you already died to yourself and it is by the Spirit of God that your body even moves, you may just not have understood or come to the revelation of this truth and so your consciousness is still stuck in worrying about your needs.
We have so many promises that God gives to us if we will do this that are for our good.
Once I realized that it wasn’t “me” screwing things up, or “me” that could fail. Rather, it was my lack of understanding about who I am and how I am even alive to write this to you today that kept me from seeing the truth that would set me truly free.
And that truth is this:
That I am merely a bag of flesh and bones, given life by the grace of God and the power of His Holy Spirit inside of me, who resurrected my dead flesh and gave it life on the day of my baptism.
That, what God has for this vessel to carry will be carried through to completion. That my only job in this new life is to submit fully to the will of God and deny my own selfish desires as even being relevant.
Through this, God will accomplish his purpose, through my vessel on this earth and through this, as we all do it together, bring glory to His Kingdom on Earth and in Heaven.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior yet, and this message has spoken to your spirit in a way that you are ready to make that commitment today, simply pray this prayer and begin your walk towards true freedom.
“God in heaven, I need you.
I repent of doing things my own way and ask that you would forgive me today.
I believe that your son Jesus died, and he rose from the grave, for the forgiveness of my sins and I ask that you would cover me with the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins.
Today, I am committing the rest of my life to following your way, that you revealed through your son Jesus. Father please come into my life, renew my spirit, and teach me your ways so that I may walk with you in relationship.
Holy Spirit, please direct the steps of my path and lead me into all truth.
Not only for the promise of eternal salvation, but to bring your Kingdom glory on earth through my life which you have given me.
Thank you Father for creating a way, thank you for your love.
I ask this of you in Jesus name – Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer today, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to rejoice with you, pray for you, and see if there is anything that I can do to help you on your journey.