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Driving in Reverse (part 3)

August 21, 2012

The past two posts have dealt with our relationship with the Lord and how our view is often twisted.  In the first post we talked about how we are born in sin.  We are sinners, through and through.  Everyone is.  No exceptions.  Realizing our sinfulness required us to also see God’s holiness and the hopelessly, desperate position we found ourselves to be.

Romans 3:23 — or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (NIV)

And the penalty earned by our lifelong rebellion is eternal separation from God, but He wants us to have life.

Romans 6:23 — The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

When we yield our hearts to Him and repent of our sin, lay down our will, and ask Jesus Christ to be Lord of our life, we become children of God the Father.

John 1:12 — Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. (NIV)

And this passage is beautiful …

Ephesians 1:4 — just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will  (NIV)

But the ongoing war we wage seems badly tilted in favor of the enemy only because we fail to realize the finality of His wondrous gift of grace.  We continue to struggle with sin.  We battle temptation every day of our life.  And many, many, many people have just given up trying to fight the good fight.  Why?  The answer is simple.  We don’t realize exactly what it was God did to us and for us.

We look at Jesus and the cross and we see salvation and heaven.  We see the ‘fire escape’ from hell.  While that is a reality, the gift is much greater and deeper than deliverance from the smoking section of eternity.  We’ve got to see the bigger picture of what our Father did for us.  It’s vital to our walk and our relationship to get a fuller understanding of what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished.”

When God showed His mercy to us and showered us with His grace, He put His very righteousness in us and made our spirit come alive to Himself.  We were previously spiritually dead and hell bound.  But now we are alive and He calls us His children.  We’re His kids!  But that wasn’t all He did, praise God!

The enemy continues to lie, tempt, and rob our hope and, more importantly, the close relationship we have with the God of the universe whom we now call Father.  But the reality is very clear from the book of Romans and paints an entirely different picture … one we must get buried so deeply in our hearts that it changes our entire mindset.

Romans 6:16-18 — Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (NIV)

When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was declaring an end to the reign of sin over people.  He was saying, “Devil, you’re done.  You have no more legal ground over them.”  Jesus gave us freedom through His grace offering and redemption to God the Father for all who would believe on Him.

You’re no longer shackled to sin.  He freed you completely and fully from being a slave to sin.  You’re now free!  Free to say NO to temptations and struggles. Free to serve righteousness.  Free to choose God and His ways rather than be tied to your former fleshly desires.  Pre-Christ, you couldn’t do that.  You might change your behavior, but you couldn’t change your heart. But with the Holy Spirit residing in you, the freedom to say no to sin and yes to God is available to you.

Satan will continue to try and pull you down.  He’ll continue to try and deceive you and make you think you’re incapable of following after the Lord, but the devil is a liar.  We’re no longer chained to sin.  You are free.  What the enemy uses now is nothing more than smoke and mirrors — empty promises and hollow threats.   He employs “used car sales” tactics.  He’ll do whatever he can to rob you of your ever-growing, intimate relationship with the God of the universe who chose you to be His child and then made a Way for it to happen through His grace!

Now you can see why the following promise of God is so beautiful.

1 Corinthians 10:13 — The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure. (NLT)

The way out of any temptation you face will always be through Him and only by His grace.  You can never fight off temptation on your own.  We couldn’t before and we can’t now.  But acknowledging God and His grace and then hiding in it allows the Lord to fight your battles for you and He’ll lead you to His safe refuge every single time.

His grace is everything!  His grace is all you need.  When this truth, when this genuine reality of what transpired in the spiritual realm takes root in your heart, your life will forever be changed.  You’ll be free to chase God and allow Him to continue to change you until we reach heaven.  He is truly the author and finisher of our faith.  He started it in us when He gave us faith to believe.  And He’ll finish it when He brings us home to spend eternity with Him.  Our Father is building a dwelling place for us to be with Him forever because He loves us that much.  We’re His.  We’re free because of Him.

Next time you’re faced with a temptation, regardless of the size, scope, or strength of that temptation, remember you are free from sin because of His grace.  FREE!  And in Him we live and move and have our being.

It’s in this ongoing walk with the Lord that He starts the work of sanctification.  The cleaning up.  Again, His work, not ours.  When we stop trying to do [on our own efforts] and just be [resting in His grace], God works miracles in and through us and reaches others around us by His Spirit.

Be free.  Let go.  Let God.  And praise Him for His goodness endures forever!  Amen.

— Pastor Rick

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