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JFH Devotionals by J.M. Farro

Excuses or Freedom?

"But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions)."
- James 1:14 AMP

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In my daily quiet time with the Lord recently, I was talking to Him about certain areas of my life where I wasnít enjoying the freedom in Christ that I knew I should have. I asked Him where I was "missing it," and He led me to a verse in the book of James that really opened my eyes. "But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions)." (James 1:14 AMP) Immediately, I recognized my self-defeating habit of blaming external forces for my failures, and I allowed the Holy Spirit to minister truth to me that set my feet on the path of victory.

To live the lives of freedom that Jesus bought for us on Calvary, we must acknowledge that itís our own evil desires that bait us and draw us away from the will of God. For example: I recently decided that I was going to be more serious about eating healthy. Just making the decision was tough enough, but it got even tougher when my husband, Joe, and I went out to eat on our weekly date night. When I placed my order, I managed to make all good, healthy choices. But my husband didnít. And when the food came to the table, I caved in and ate some of the rich and fattening foods, as well as the healthy ones. Later, as I complained to the Lord about it, and gave my husband most of the blame for my failure, He reminded me of the verse in James that points to my own ungodly desires as being the true culprit. Thatís when I decided that I was no longer going to blame my husband, the devil, or anyone else for my failures. I told myself, "No more excuses!" Because I began to realize that if I continued to excuse my behavior for any reason, I would never be free.

With the realization that I had no one to blame but myself, I became filled with a holy determination to gain the victory. Sometimes, this kind of Spirit-inspired determination comes automatically when we need to make some changes in our lives, and other times we have to earnestly and continually pray for it. A good definition of "determination" is: "The act of deciding definitely and firmly; also, a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end." God wants to help us succeed, but Heís not going to do it all for us. We have to be serious enough about walking in victory and freedom to make a firm decision to do whatever it is we have to do to be free. Once we determine to do our part, the Lord will give us a custom-made plan for our victory. Then we have to follow this divine plan by being sensitive and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis. The apostle Paul wrote: "But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God)." (Galatians 5:16 AMP) The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to you and me every moment of every day, through the Spirit of God who dwells in us. (Ephesians 1:19-20) Yielding to the directing and empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit enables us to conquer our sinful desires. So, each time I sense Godís Spirit saying, "Donít eat that" or "Donít do that," I will gain a greater measure of freedom by following His lead.

Itís absolutely essential that we constantly remind ourselves of Godís life-changing truths. Look at these powerful verses from the book of Romans penned by Paul: "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 6:6-7 NLT) Meditating on Scriptures like these will help us to say "no" to sin when the devil or our own carnal minds try to tell us that we are not equipped to succeed. Paul goes on to say: "So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11 NLT) If we donít "consider" ourselves to be dead to sin, it will control our lives, even though we possess the power to overcome it. Paul reassures us that victory is within our reach, when he says: "But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life." (Romans 6:22 NLT) If you long for a greater measure of victory and freedom as a follower of Christ, ask yourself todayó"How badly do I want to be free?"

Prayer: Lord, I confess the times that I allowed sin to rule over me, instead of following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Help me to do whatever it is I need to do to become all that You created me to be. Thank You that Your Spirit and Your Word will make me victorious for Your glory!

- J. M. Farro


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