Girlfriends in God - Apr. 3, 2009

April 3, 2009 
I Give Up! 
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth 
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (NIV).

Friend To Friend 
I will never forget the day I discovered that my son was a pagan, a sinner!  Jered was about six-months-old and crawling everywhere. I had just come back from running errands and was busy putting groceries away in the kitchen, which had a pass-through opening that enabled me to keep an eye on Jered while I worked.  He seemed contented as he played with his toys, occasionally taking a break to terrorize our two cats. 

When Jered first began to crawl, we had packed away anything that could hurt him, most of our breakables and everything of sentimental value.  We had, however, left a beautiful conch seashell on the living room coffee table and used it to begin the arduous but vital task of teaching Jered the meaning of “no”.  Repeatedly we would point to the shell, touch it and say, “No, no!”  Of course, he was a brilliant child, but I was not sure if he had really grasped the whole concept – until that momentous day.

With the last of the groceries put away, I dumped a bag of potatoes into the kitchen sink and began peeling them for dinner. Glancing up I saw Jered staring at the shell, a grin of anticipation on his face.  All of a sudden, he broke out in a fast crawl straight toward the forbidden shell.  I winced as the thought of what he could do to that shell and what that shell could do to his small hands.  I called out in a firm, confident voice, “Jered, no. Do not touch that shell!”  Immediately, in mid-crawl, he stopped, sat up and looked back at me while seeming to consider his options and weigh the consequences.  As I repeated the warning, he joyfully clapped his hands, flashing me the most adorable smile.  What a great kid!  He’s got it!  I started around the corner to give him a hug and praise him for his obedience when he took off like a shot, crawling as fast as his chubby little hands and knees would carry him. Reaching the coffee table, Jered grabbed the shell and plopped it in his lap like a hard-earned trophy. I gasped in disbelief as his face reflected total triumph!  He knew exactly what he was doing and he was not one bit sorry!  My perfect little boy was a rebellious pagan, just like his mother.

Each and every one of us was born with a nature that loves to rebel and feeds a natural “bent” toward selfish, wrong choices.  However, when we come to Christ we receive a new nature that naturally desires to obey God.  The result is internal civil war.  The Apostle Paul struggled with sin just like we do today.  In his letter to the church at Rome Paul describes his frustration with his own sin: “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do the very thing I hate.” (NLT)  Sound familiar?  I will never forget the first time I read those fervent words written by this man of God. I was so relieved! I often thought I was the only believer who still engaged in major battles with sin.  I was thrilled and encouraged to know that I was not in this battle alone. The reality is that as long as we live in this broken and fallen world, our sinful nature and our God nature will constantly be at war.

How do we win that war?  The solution is very simple, but very expensive.  In fact, it will cost you everything, beginning with the total control of your life. To win this war between the old and new nature we must constantly surrender to God, allowing Him to guide, direct and empower us to live for Him.  I love how one man described his own war against sin.  “It is like there are two dogs fighting within me, an old dog and a new dog.  The one who will win is the one I feed the most.”

The old nature is fed by the world and encouraged to enjoy the sin it so freely offers.  But God lovingly urges us to strengthen the new nature He has given us by reading and studying the Bible, by praying and spending time with other believers and by serving Him.  Certain victory is ours when we constantly choose against the old nature while surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Join me in giving up!  Victory is on the way!

Let’s Pray 
Lord, I want to please you and obey you.  So many times, I make the wrong choice and give in to the sin that constantly draws me.  Today, I choose against that sin and give myself to you.  Thank you for the power of your word and for the precious gift of prayer, through which I find the strength to stand firm.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn 
Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin in your life that you have refused to face.  Write that sin down, confess it and ask Him to forgive you.  Now destroy the paper on which you wrote the sin and thank God for His forgiving power. Consider the following questions:

What is the most powerful sin in my life?  Why?

How does this sin influence my everyday life?

Does this sin affect my relationship with God?  In what way?

What is the first step I need to take in order to free my life from this sin?

What specific actions can I take to strengthen the choice I have made to turn from this sin?

More From The Girlfriends 
I have walked with God and served Him in ministry for a very long time!  One would think I had this “obedience” concept down pat.  I think I understand the concept but my very human heart simply doesn’t like it and wants its own way.  Dealing with sin is an ongoing battle for us all but it is a battle worth fighting.  A clean heart before God is a powerful launching pad for life.  Don’t give up, friend.  Don’t get discouraged!  You are not alone.  In fact, I have an online bible study just for you, Light for the Journey.  Check it out!  You will also find E-Book Bible Studies on anger, stress and dealing with the tough parts of life along with MP3 downloads that will equip and encourage you on your journey.  Blessings! 

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Originally published Friday, 03 April 2009.