"Your salvation requires you to turn back to Me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on Me--the very thing you've been unwilling to do."
- Isaiah 30:15 MSG
Years ago, I saw a famous actor on TV, talking about his struggle with alcoholism. He described in great detail how he had tried every method and program that existed to try to break free from his crippling addiction. Even so, year after year passed with him still caught fast in the bonds of alcoholism. With great emotion, he revealed how he finally found the healing and deliverance he had desperately been seeking. He said that day and night, he fell to his knees in prayer, confessing his sins to God, acknowledging his utter helplessness, and crying out to Him for the help that only He could give. He said that as a result, the Lord strengthened him, and enabled him to begin taking some practical steps that would eventually lead him to freedom.
God brought this man's testimony to my remembrance recently, when I was earnestly calling upon Him for deliverance from some of my own sins and bad habits. He led me to some powerful teaching on the subject, that enabled me to see these issues in a new light. First of all, I had to learn to be completely honest with God. This was very difficult for me, because I had been laboring for years to speak only positive statements, and I had become fearful of speaking a "negative confession." I could easily say 50 times a day, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" (Philippians 4:13) And I felt extremely uncomfortable telling God, "I'm utterly helpless, and if You don't help me to overcome this sin, I am going to keep doing it." But that's exactly what He wanted me to do. He showed me that there's a big difference between confessing our inadequacies and helplessness to Him, and constantly telling ourselves and others that we are worthless, powerless, and ineffective. When it's just between us and God, we can feel free to express our true feelings, no matter how negative they might be. Psalm 51:6 says: "Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place." As we pour out our hearts to the Lord in all honesty and sincerity, He draws close to us, and imparts wisdom and revelation to us that we can receive no other way.
Another thing that God showed me is how important it is for us to call our faults, bad habits, and addictions exactly what they are--SIN. I've learned that a lot of good can come out of our doing this simple thing. For instance, if I have a tendency to gossip, I can agree with God that it's a sin and sincerely repent for it, and as a result, I can pray for--and expect--divine enablement to overcome it. But if I don't take it seriously--if I don't acknowledge how serious an offense it is in God's sight--I'm not going to confess it as sin, express sorrow over it, or plead for God's help to resist it. Scripture says: "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Proverbs 28:13 NIV) Not only do we need God's forgiveness after we sin, but we desperately need the help He offers to us in His mercy--help that only He can provide--so that we can turn away from our sin.
In Chapter 15 of the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke of the importance of abiding in Him, and He said, "Without Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5 NKJV) If we will get ahold of this powerful truth, and if we will begin to live a life of total dependency upon the Lord, we will begin to see Him move mountains on our behalf. If you are in the unrelenting grip of sin, addiction, and bad habits today, I urge you to--"Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet!" (James 4:10 MSG)
Prayer: Lord, I bring all of my sins and bondages before you this day, and I humbly ask for Your forgiveness and cleansing. I confess that I am utterly helpless to rescue myself, and I surrender myself to You. By the power of Your Spirit, please set me free. In Jesus' name, Amen.
- J. M. Farro