In my previous post “Die Already” I shared how God caught me off guard by telling me to “go ahead and die(figuratively of course). But how does that happen in a practical way each day. I mean enough theory, right? What does it really look like to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. What is it to trample your old addictions underfoot without so much as a glancing sideways at them? What is it to be free to hear the Spirit of God every day? What is it to know powerful fruitfulness?
Well.. Its Simple, but its’ not easy. It costs. This is the #1 reason that most won’t and will never know true victorious living in Christ. They will not pay the price.
I was out at The Tent of Meeting the other day with a friend and remarked to him how I wished a man of God would have shared these truths with me 14 years ago as a new grad from Bible School….before embarking into full time missions overseas.
I grew up being told that in Christ there was power to overcome my sinful nature. I believed it..but as time went by the reality of my christian walk didn’t jive with that statement. After 10 years I was starting to have serious questions. I was not truly taught how to overcome.
My ears always perked up whenever I heard a sermon on “overcoming sin.” I’d sit on the edge of my seat every time thinking..“ahh finally! Maybe this time this guy will have an answer for me.” Sadly, almost without exception, the sermon would draw to a close with a conclusion something to this tune: “pray more, read your bible every day, and be accountable to others”…give or take a few minor points. I took all those things to heart and disciplined myself to do them faithfully. All that did was serve to expose how wicked my heart was. Oh, sure there were periods of “not sinning” but I was constantly under a heavy load of temptation and I would eventually succumb.
You know, the Pharisees “cure for sin” was to pray more, read the bible more, memorize scripture more, study it, and surround themselves with other like minded people. All these are good and I practice all of them, but that are highly secondary. These are not bad things, but its Law and it is not “the law written on your hearts.”
As Jesus said, “…unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” There is a righteousness that must start much deeper…something that cleanses the inside and the outside. Something that changes our appetites and desires. Something that fixates our hearts on Christ and forgets about all the old junk.
I can’t tell you of the thousands of cycles of sin I went through(as a professing christian, yes even a missionary) I was so broken and disappointed in myself, in my faith, and in God that I despaired of living. Often as I would be confessing my sin for the zillionth time, I would be overcome with such grief that waves of nausea would sweep over me causing me to gag and dry heave. Where was the power to overcome? Was it a myth?
Does this resonate with you? I mean, if Christ came to break every chain then what’s the deal? Why can’t I even shake these small besetting sins?
What I’m about to tell you I tell you upon the authority of scripture and by my personal experience. This is not theory. I’ve wasted too many years to babble about “frothy” ideas and “how to’s”
One day while reading my Bible I read this: “So I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of your sinful nature” -Galations 5:16
BANG! The lights came on! I mean stadium lights flooded my soul. The power and simplicity of that tiny verse absolutely rocked me. I had found the answer! I found the cure! Even more amazingly it was an absolute promise. It blew away! Said another way; It is impossible for you to sin when you walk in the Spirit! From that day on I set my life on a course to know what it was to walk in the Spirit and know the true grace and power of God to overcome.
Most christians try to “not to sin.” This is futile. The reason they are still mired in sin is because they are actually still living under old testament law. The hard part is convincing them that they actually are still under law even after they’ve confessed faith in Christ. Check out Galations and Hebrews…it was a huge problem in the early church and it still is. By shear will power you might actually be able to abstain from outward sin, but you’ll still be a rotting corpse inside. You will be no more successful than a Pharisee. You’ll still have hate, lust, covetousness, greed, and pride filling you.
Here’s a great message by Zach Poonen on this. Rarely will you get such a clear message:
Seek for Reality in your Inner Life- Zac Poonen
A Christian will only be free from inward and outward sin when he/she is filled with the Holy Spirit ….and stays filled.
This is where all the chains and bondage come off. Your natural appetites change. The difference is night and day. When I discovered what it was to walk in the Spirit weeks would go by and then I’d suddenly realize, “Hey, its been like two weeks and I haven’t slipped back into that sin…I haven’t even thought about it! Thats incredible! I couldn’t go a day before”
In the Old Testament God appointed a morning and evening burnt offering. It was called the Tamid sacrifice. Unlike other sacrifices where parts of the animals were kept for the priests, this sacrifice was a whole burnt offering by fire. A yearling lamb would be slaughtered and entirely burned on the alter.
As I understand it, the tamid sacrifice was not a sacrifice for sin. It was a consecration sacrifice. What that means is that it was a sacrifice to “set apart” the temple as holy onto the Lord. No other sacrifices or offerings could take place until this daily sacrifice was made. It was the baseline. It was the prerequisite for any other offerings to be accepted.
You know what that means for you and I? The picture is quite clear. Before we ever think we will be useful to God for anything we must offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Its our only reasonable act of worship. Its the base line.. the prerequisite.
“It was when the burnt offering, whole, no part held back, was laid upon the altar ‘that there came forth fire from before the Lord’ (Lev 9:24) and accepted the gift and it is when we bring ourselves, a whole burnt offering to the Lord, and lay ourselves upon the altar that the fire comes and God thus accepts the gift.”- R.A. Torrey “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit”
It should mark the beginning of your day and the end of it as a bare minimum. I’ve adopted a daily spiritual practice…a daily burnt offering if you will. Because of it God has given me many victories over my flesh. I encourage others to adopt something similar.
It goes something like this:
Resolution #1: That before my day begins and at its end, I shall be filled with the HolySpirit as commanded in Ephesians 5:18. Without whom I have no power to glorify God, no power to overcome my flesh, and no power to serve God. Therefore each day I shall:
1. Confess any and all known sin. I shall cleanse my temple unto God by the blood of Christ. (1John 1:9, 1 Cor 6:19)
2. Renounce any and all known sin. That is, I will cast aside even the desire to harbour affections toward these sins I have just confessed. I count them absolute loss and leave them behind like filthy garments in order that I might gain Christ. This may also mean renounce “good” things that have become idols or are monopolizing undue time and energy.
3. Surrender myself, my future and hopes to God. I will yield my will up to God’s purposes for me. I will still myself before God like a trusting and contented child. My food will be to do my Father’s will.
4. Ask my Father for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit by faith knowing that He is more than willing to give his Spirit to those who ask.
5. Obey what God has already revealed to me and what He shows me to do today regardless of the how foolish I may appear, what it costs or the criticism or opposition I face.
6. Believe that the promised filling of the Holy Spirit is given. I will walk concsiously and purposefully mindful of this endowment of power by faith with or without any manifestations or feelings.
This is the the promise God gave Moses and the people when the daily sacrifice was instituted:
“For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory.” -Exodus 29:42,43
Be consumed. Surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit.
My friends be filled with the Holy Spirit! The inner man will be cleansed from the desire to sin. You will no longer be straining to control your wicked desires like a man trying in vain to hold back a race horse. As naturally as you tended toward your habitual sin, you will now thirst for God and his righteousness. This is the inner work only the Spirit of God can do. This is how Christ “works in us to will and to do his good pleasure!”
For more on the filling of the Holy Spirit see this post: How to be filled with the Holy Spirit
“So I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of your sinful nature.” Gal 5:16