How often do I get frustrated in pursing the fruits of God's presence in my life and just throw those out: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? (Yes, I'm typically tossing self-control and patience out with the trash.) Yet these are evidence of God's residence in my life. Further, I'm suppose to be done with the impatience, anxiety, harshness and living for self-pleasure.
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:6-7If I am promised my old ungodly habits have no more power over me, why is it so hard? Why do I have to wait? It seems that when I came to true saving faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, the old habits and patterns should have almost instantly vaporized. Like making a bag of microwave popcorn: wait 2 minutes on high power and ding: popcorn's ready. I want ding: no more struggles with sin.
In his book, Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges explains holiness as a growing process that takes time and I must choose to be committed. I must repeatedly choose to
- Renew my mind (Romans 12:2)
- Set my affections on things above (Colossians 3:1)
- Submit my will to God (James 4:7) (I like to think of this as choosing God's way in all I think say and do.)
- God most often appeals to my will by reason.
- Satan most often appeals to my desires.
- Satan attacks my reason and confuses an issue.
Another helpful arrow in my armor I heard this week is to envision God's glory in the midst of attack. In my mind, begin to imagine heaven and it's perfection and wonderfulness and think, I want to be there! And even though this struggle with sin and temptation is hard, I want that more.
The truth is sometimes I win this battle in my mind and sometimes I don't. No, it's not like the bag of microwave popcorn, but more like that little fairy plant that takes weeks and weeks to sprout new roots. This process will be on-going until the day I meet Jesus face to face. It's part of my journey. But I don't do it alone.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24He provides the power within me, in the Holy Spirit to make choices, daily, hourly choices that look like Jesus. I can expect growth as I make wise godly choices. So, like the cabbage and cucumbers that I haven't given up on, I'll be growing.