"Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image."
- 2 Corinthians 3:17,18 NLT
Sometime ago, I heard from a lady who took issue with one of my teachings on destructive behavior in Christians. Her belief was that many Christians could not help living destructive lifestyles, and that they were doomed to repeat their mistakes over and over. She basically subscribed to the notion referred to in Proverbs 26:11 (NIV), which says: "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." I'm here to tell you that this way of thinking does not reflect the truth of the Gospel of Christ. Let me share with you some enlightening truths from the Word of God today.
The Bible says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) When we receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, He doesn't just give us a makeover--He makes us "a new creature altogether" (AMP). We are not the same person we were before. We have a new nature, and along with it, we are given the same power that raised Christ from the dead, so that we can resist sin. (Ephesians 1:19-20) But if our minds are not renewed to truths like these from the Word of God, we will live mediocre, compromising lives, rather than walk in the victory that Jesus purchased for us on the cross. If you are a Christian, you are positionally dead to sin, and it's up to you to cooperate with the Spirit of God to become dead to sin experientially. Scripture says: "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 6:6-8 NLT) How do we walk out these truths? Paul tells us in Romans 6:11 (NLT): "You also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus." In other words, we need to get our minds and thoughts in line with the truth of God's Word.
The renewal of our minds is a process, and we cooperate with that process by choosing to walk with God on a daily basis. That's why Paul says: "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2 NIV) The Spirit of God will do the actual renewing and transforming, but we must do our part by seeking the Lord daily through prayer, praise, and the study of His Word. Too many Christians are trying to live godly, victorious lives without devoting themselves to the Word of God. Let me tell you bluntly that this is simply impossible. If you don't spend consistent, concentrated time in God's Word, you will be an easy target for Satan's lies and deceptions, and he will have a tremendous influence over your life. In that case, even though you are saved by the grace of God and on your way to heaven, you just might be doomed to repeat many of your mistakes over and over.
Jesus suffered and died so that you could live a life of freedom and victory, and you don't have to settle for anything less if you don't want to. Scripture says: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom)." (2 Corinthians 3:17 AMP) Freedom is your inheritance in Christ. And if you are determined to submit to the Lord's work in your life, you can trust that you are "being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory." (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV) Is the process always easy, or does it always feel good? No. But the good news is that the Lord never expects us to go it alone. He will be with us all the way, and we need only call on Him in faith to receive His comfort and assistance. Let me encourage you today to, "Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." (Philippians 2:12-13 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, I ask that You plant these truths so deeply in my heart that they will produce a harvest of peace, joy, and righteousness in my life. Help me to wholeheartedly cooperate with You on a moment-by-moment basis, so that I can become more and more like Jesus all the time. Thank You that I am not doomed to live a life of failure and defeat, but a life of victory and freedom in Christ!
- J. M. Farro