“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (age), Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people (his own special people), zealous of (for) good works.”Titus 2:11-14
I grew up around Christian kids who looked like they had no problem obeying God, and doing right seemed second nature to them. I wanted to do right, but it was so hard and felt like an unattainable dream. I would sin 1,000 to one of their sins, and I could never quite understand why victory came so easily for them but not for me. I felt like a kid who waited all night for Santa Claus only to find no presents under my tree, but the kid across the street got a new bike. I made decisions and my heart’s desire was to do right, but I tried so hard on my own only to fail.
I wish I could say that these thoughts were relegated to only my teenage years, but they have also seeped into my adult life as well. Besetting sins over which I could not get victory seemed overwhelming at times and consistent godly living seemed elusive and unrealistic. Why did living the Christian life seem so easy for others but laborsome and unattainable for me? Maybe you also have looked at other Christians and felt the same way as you struggle with the flesh but they seem to have no problems or issues at all. As the years have gone by, I have learned something that I never knew before. I can have all the willpower in the world, but this is not the solution to my struggle.
I was looking within myself for victory, and wanting victory to simply escape my consequences, not because I desired to do the will of God. I tried to look for my own help within instead of the divine help to which I had free access. I did not seek God’s favor, but sought to do it in my own power and strength, which failed me again and again. My Bible reading would soon taper off, and with it, my source of strength and guidance slowly faded away as I succumbed to the sins which so easily tripped me up. I was saved (justified) by grace, but I neglected to allow God’s grace to also change (sanctify) me as I instead sought my own will and strength. I looked at others instead of looking to my God. I look back now and see the people, whom I thought skated through sanctification, really struggled with the flesh as much as I did.
I looked at everything and everyone but the blessed hope which I had in my Savior Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for me so that I would not have to live a life enslaved to sin. He redeemed me so that I would be dead to sin, and desired to teach me to live a life in which I would deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. His desire is that I live free, and that my life reflect a life of godliness, and a life that is righteous before Him. My redeemed life is free to do right, and I am no longer in bondage to sin. The cell of sin I was in was opened, and I was set free. It is through His grace that I am made free and no longer enslaved to ungodliness and my flesh. My focus changed from myself and my own strength to looking to Him who is my hope and help. I no longer feel defeated in my Christian walk, and when I sin, I know it is because I took my eyes off of my help and hope, and I focused them on my own sinful will and ambitions.
Where are you today friend? Do you feel defeated? Do you feel anything? Are you convicted by your sin, or do you live any way you choose without guilt or conviction? Do you have a personal walk with Jesus Christ? Do you desire to live a life of victory? II Corinthians 5:17 states,”Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” May our focus be on our blessed hope, the hope of the One who saved us and set us free. In Freedom That Lasts we say, “You are free, so choose to live free.” Allow the grace of God to change your life and quit struggling trying to live for Him on your own. May we pray for God’s grace, and may our heart’s desire be to do His will and not our own.