3 Giant Leaps Toward Freedom from Sin

 

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As people that love the Lord we can often feel our heart become wrenched at the presence of a sin that just doesn’t seem to ever go away. We might call it just a bad habit, or a “weakness” or, if it’s embarrassing, even a secret sin. Either way if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you know what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:21-23 when he said —

 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. MSG

This type of life where sin is never defeated isn’t the will of God though. As Paul goes on he tells of the turning point and the victory that is possible as we reach chapter 8:1-2…

 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. MSG

That’s great news! So all our fighting is over now then right? Well… it’s not like our flesh or the tempter is going to lay down and quit. We are going to have to walk this out. So how do you do that? First and foremost we have to get in this Word and read it, and read it, and read it…and read it until it becomes bigger on the inside of us than the giants are in our eyes. For this post though I want to point out three keys or giant leaps forward to help you on your way as you meditate in the Word.

Giant Leap 1 – The first prayer that got you saved is the same prayer you need now.

One of the main reasons why we can hang onto sin is that we think that this one sin requires some advanced level of God’s power to deal with it. Somehow in our minds we think that because it’s been difficult it requires something with more oomph than what we used when we first got saved. The problem with this is that it assumes the cross is only a rudimentary element of Christianity.

Do you remember what it was like when you first asked the Lord into your heart? When you came to Him you had nothing to offer and He had everything to offer. You knew that the only way to make it would be if He did everything for you, right? Think about that grace. That type of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air in complete abandon is the reliance we have to have in the cross for any sin whether it’s old or new. Armed with this now we can believe that by trusting that His grace is enough we will receive power from Him to overcome. The gospel of Jesus Christ is enough for any sin issue in your life. End of story. Period.

Giant Leap 2 – If Jesus’ shed blood overcomes all sin then…let go.

I’m sure you’ve probably come home from a stressful day at work or school and as you finally relaxed you realized that your neck had been tensed up. The reason for this is that our bodies hold tension in areas that it wants to keep protected when it’s sensing stress. Just as we can do this with the stress of the day we can also have the tendency to do this in the spirit realm. Over time if we aren’t mindful of Who is in charge of the sin-defeating department we can slowly increase our grip on the issue until the only one dealing with it is us. There have been times where I have “come to” and realized that I had my hands wrapped all around the situation, sin or devil trying to choke it away which left no room for the Lord’s hands!

So how do we make sure we keep it in the Lord’s hands when the heat turns up? Thanksgiving and praise. It’s very difficult trying to be negative and thankful at the same time, so make it inconvenient to take it into your own hands. Make a lifestyle choice that puts thanksgiving and praise into every day of your week!

Giant Leap 3 – You have to disconnect with the enemy to connect with God.

If the first 2 aren’t making major headway for you then it could be that a deliverance is needed. In James 4:7 it says Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. NASB These three Leaps are pretty much summed up into this one scripture. We’ve been talking about submitting to God so now let’s move on to resisting the devil…

Resisting the enemy really means to leave no place for them (Eph 4:27). In other words taking out the circumstances that fuel the temptation. This can be external as far as literally cleaning house and lifestyle and it can also be internal in the cleaning of the mind and matching it to the mind of Christ. These have to do with fasted living where Jesus isn’t just savior but also Lord. We need to make sure that we have divorced the darkness in order for our marriage to the Bridegroom to be consistent.

Sometimes though there can be ties in the spirit that have been made that demonic forces use as an excuse to attach themselves to people. This isn’t a possession but rather an oppression when it’s a Christian. These people find salvation in Jesus but can still have an unusually strong pull towards one particular sin. When this happens it is usually that the demons look at that person as still being married to them.

For those situations I’d like to lead us in prayer in going before the Judge of Heaven and Earth and officially getting a divorce from the forces of darkness as well as to renew our marriage vows to Jesus Christ. If you feel that you need something like this please read this out loud and claim it for yourself

Father we enter your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise. We go boldly before your throne because of the sacrifice of Your Son and today we call upon the Judge of Heaven and Earth who is Jesus Christ. We ask You for a divorce from Satan, Baal, the spirit of the anti-Christ and all the forces of darkness. As the Ekklesia, the legislative branch of Your kingdom on Earth we take up our authority to dissolve any contract made with evil and declare it null and void as Your representatives on Earth in the name above all other names, Jesus Christ. We also put into binding our marriage vows to Your son Jesus and declare that He is our only Lord. We attest that according to Your promises in the Word that this thing has been done for us and that the Lord our Judge has slammed His gavel down upon this ruling. We therefore believe in expectancy that the ties have been broken and that he who the Son sets free is free indeed! We speak this in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Alright then, go take some leaps!

 

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Psalm 109 – The Righteous Judge

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Psalm 109

Vengeance Invoked upon Adversaries.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1 O God of my praise,
Do not be silent!
For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without cause.
In return for my love they act as my accusers;
But I am in prayer.
Thus they have repaid me evil for good
And hatred for my love.

Appoint a wicked man over him,
And let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is judged, let him come forth guilty,
And let his prayer become sin.
Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.
10 Let his children wander about and beg;
And let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder the product of his labor.
12 Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him,
Nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off;
In a following generation let their name be blotted out.

14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
And do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
15 Let them be before the Lord continually,
That He may cut off their memory from the earth;
16 Because he did not remember to show lovingkindness,
But persecuted the afflicted and needy man,
And the despondent in heart, to put them to death.
17 He also loved cursing, so it came to him;
And he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him.
18 But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment,
And it entered into his body like water
And like oil into his bones.
19 Let it be to him as a garment with which he covers himself,
And for a belt with which he constantly girds himself.
20 Let this be the reward of my accusers from the Lord,
And of those who speak evil against my soul.

21 But You, O God, the Lord, deal kindly with me for Your name’s sake;
Because Your lovingkindness is good, deliver me;
22 For I am afflicted and needy,
And my heart is wounded within me.
23 I am passing like a shadow when it lengthens;
I am shaken off like the locust.
24 My knees are weak from fasting,
And my flesh has grown lean, without fatness.
25 I also have become a reproach to them;
When they see me, they wag their head.

26 Help me, O Lord my God;
Save me according to Your lovingkindness.
27 And let them know that this is Your hand;
You, Lord, have done it.
28 Let them curse, but You bless;
When they arise, they shall be ashamed,
But Your servant shall be glad.
29 Let my accusers be clothed with dishonor,
And let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe.

30 With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord;
And in the midst of many I will praise Him.
31 For He stands at the right hand of the needy,
To save him from those who judge his soul. – NASB

Psalm 42 – A Heart’s Cry

Køivoklát - vánoce 2006Psalm 42:

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. – NASB

The Simple Logic of Following Jesus

804489_72025338Most of the time that I hear a comment about logic –among Christians– it is usually looked upon as a counter to faith. “Well I just have to stop trusting in logic and start trusting in the Lord!”.

Didn’t God create logic though? How can you have the mind of Christ unless you are able to logically understand His ways? Obviously somewhere in here we need to find a balance as we split the hairs. Otherwise we might end up cutting out something important!

See everything that we believed before we became a being of faith was based upon the rule-set of the natural world. Then when our spirit was resurrected our trust and assumption was upgraded to a higher rule-set; the supernatural. The problem that we can run into is when we haven’t drawn the line between the two.

When these mix we can become confused as to where our help comes from because parts of us are still trusting in worldly things. That right there is the logic that used to make sense but now doesn’t. That’s the stuff that needs to go. On the other hand, there’s a place for a logical understanding of God’s principles.

In Luke 7 there’s a story about a Centurion and his deathly sick slave. The Centurion said that because he commanded soldiers and slaves to do this and that, he understood that Jesus acted in the same way. He saw that the Son of God used His authority to command healing and therefore it was simple to surmise that all the Lord would have to do is give the command and there would be a miracle. When Jesus heard this the Bible says that He marveled. He also said “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” Isn’t that amazing? He made Jesus marvel. You know…the One who’s train fills the temple? The One who is a fire from His loins up and a fire from His loins down? This marvel came from some Roman that assumed a supernatural principle made sense.

There’s the heart of it though. Think about it: when it makes sense to us we aren’t doubting it. When it’s logical we are expecting it like we expect gravity to work. Well hey, gravity is a natural law. What about supernatural law? That’s why we renew our minds with the Word so we can learn the “physics” of the supernatural. Once we know the principles then we can come to expect it and not doubt in it and now we’re living out Mark 11:23:

23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. NASB

Jesus makes sense even when we may not understand everything. We just have to stay humble understanding that God isn’t going to lie to us because He loves us. So let’s go expect the Word today shall we?

Jesus loves ya and so do I!

P.S. Having a battle between natural and supernatural logic? Throw it into the comments below. I’d love to hear from ya!

 

 

No One Say The “G” Word!

Can I talk about the G word here? It won’t offend you will it? It can be a very offensive word afterall…and no, I’m not talking about God so you’ll have to think of something else. Come on, you can guess it. It’s something most churches in the western world rarely talk about. You’ve even probably never heard a message preached on it before.

Think you have it now? How about this… I’m going to put down the Hebrew translation first and then maybe you can guess it. The reason why I’m going to do that is because this word has been somewhat miss-defined for quite a long time now. So here’s the first parts of the definition for your clue from Strong’s Concordance…

Zalal – to shake (as in the wind) i.e. to quake: Fig – to be loose morally, worthless or prodigal.

So what in the world starts with a “G” in English that defines this? It apparently deals with immorality so, how could I say it’s not usually talked about in churches today? Well, because I’m talking about Zalal, which translates in English to… Gluttony.

Yep. Sure does! It’s not until the last parts of the definition that it gets to the eating part. Now before you shut your eyes, plug your ears, and start yelling “lalalalalala!”, did that definition say exactly that eating more than what your stomach should handle was the root sin? Did it say eating unhealthy food was the root sin either? No. Now those things can very well be outliers, but they aren’t the main problem. That’s why it’s been miss-defined. We eat a lot, feel bad about it and let condemnation come in or we’ve decided that it’s not a battle we care to take on. In other words, we ignore gluttony as if it’s an ancient, vestigial remain of a bygone Judaical philosophy. Ya know, like those kosher law things.

The root issue though is that when people make the choice to let their tongue (the flesh) decide how they are to steward the living and holy sacrifice from Romans 12, they’ve just set up an idol before God. Instant moral issue.

The infamous G word is shown here in Prov 23:20-21 which says…

20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags. NASB

Ouch! So apparently God says that the result of gluttony is the same as the result of drunkenness. At this point you may say “Wait a minute Ryan… I shout the preacher down when he gets on a tangent about Christians who drink, but pity the fool that takes my twinkies! So… where does that put me?”

I’m just going to put a space here for that timeless, single cricket chirp…

Okay, so now that we’ve paused, sat in a hippie drum circle, talked about our feelings and how hard life is, we can move on. Ya good? Awesome.

The Bible says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. We automatically assume that’s talking only about our speech, right? The tongue doesn’t just talk though; it tastes too! There are so many of us in the body of Christ that are willing to give up anything for the gospel, but it’s amazing how much the flesh is unchecked and allowed to reek havoc through our lives in this area.

I don’t think I need to list the reasons. They’re listed in the obituaries of our newspapers every day. We can talk about binding familiar spirits and generational curses, but after those are dealt with, most of the time it’s not the devil that gets passed down; it’s the cookbook.

Is God first in our stewardship of health? Are we ensuring that we give Him the maximum amount of years of service that we can? Are we speaking the Word of healing and then suffocating the angelic assignments through bad stewardship? Could it be that we are nullifying the Word with tradition (Mark 7:13) through incorrect habits?

One thing is sure. Jesus gives victory and releases us from the bondage of bad habits and soulish comfort derived from food. For any problem we have, God has a promise. Matt 11:30 states “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” We can trade our old burdens for His lighter burden. That also includes going too far the other way because of a feeling of condemnation.

Excellence in service to the Master is possible when the focus is on getting the lifestyle right, instead of just a seasonal diet. If you are doubting because of past attempts that failed, I want to encourage you that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. It’s not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God that you can mount up with wings like an eagle and run and not be weary; walk and not faint!

– Phil 4:13, Zech 4:6, Is 40:31. Who or what is stronger than Jesus?