Transformation not Just Abstinence ~ blog

 In Daily Encouragement

I know from my own personal experience after 14+ years working on my own recovery that what I really need is transformation, not just abstinence.  Abstinence is me doing everything that I can to not go back to sexual sin.  Now is that work important?  Yes, it is because if I were to just sit here and ask the Holy Spirit to transform me without doing my own part, I would be ignoring a critical truth when it comes to transformation.  That truth is …

It is both the Holy Spirit and me

working together that produces transformation.

This is what Paul has in mind when he wrote to the Philippians 2:12-13;

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

The Holy Spirit will do His work in us by transforming us to become more like Christ, but we must do the work we need to be doing as well.  This is true for every single Christian in the world … not just those of us who experience sexual brokenness.  Many of us give up and have lost hope that God still wants to help us and transform us because of the shame, guilt, and fear we have from years of failure.

How many times have you tried to stop, failed, and given up trying?  I know for me it was probably hundreds of times.  However, I never quit trying but my problem remained because I remained isolated and tried to do it on my own. Once my sin was exposed and I could be honest about it I found a group of other men who were helping one another, and God started to change me on the inside.  He began to change my heart and my mind.

With that in mind, I want to begin to teach you the daily things we all need to do and do consistently so that the Holy Spirit will begin to transform you from being addicted to sexual sin to becoming free in Christ.  I do not want to create a long list of things for you to do.  I do not want to pile up on you more stuff that you have tried and failed in doing it.  And I do not think it needs to be this huge and complex deal that you will not be able to accomplish.

It is simple … but not easy!!!

So, let’s start with feeding ourselves spiritually.  We are all pretty good at feeding ourselves.  We usually are able to accomplish it 2 or 3 times a day and maybe with snacks between meals.  But, what about feeding yourself spiritually?  Are you spiritually malnourished?  Most Christian are.  We might be up to date on live streaming TV shows, sports, and the news of the day … at the expense of giving ourselves spiritual nourishment from Scripture.

Jesus said in John 15:7;

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

This is a promise from Jesus and speaks directly to the heart of what our Christian life is supposed to be.  There are 2 things that are immediately apparent in this passage.  Everything Jesus says about whatever you wish being done for you is conditional upon the first 11 words.

If you abide in me…” What does that mean and how do we do it?  If there is an if in a statement it means that what it is talking about may or may not be happening. So, what does it mean to abide?  Abiding seems to be a critical point in this passage for out of abiding we can ask for whatever we wish.  We will glorify the Father and we will bear much fruit.  Abiding also results in the joy of Christ being in us and our joy tank being filled up.”

In its most basic meaning to abide means to remain. Now we know that we are already “in Christ.”  We have been placed in Christ the moment we were saved.  However, one can be in Christ and not abiding in Christ.  To abide in Christ means we are drawing from Him what we need to live the life He has meant for us. Like a branch abides in the vine … it is connected to the vine and is receiving from the vine what it needs to be alive and bear fruit.

And My words abide in you…” Here is the second condition of our being able to bear much fruit and experiencing joy.  His words are abiding in us.  Just as we are in Christ but may not be abiding in Christ so also, we can have the Word of God but not have those words abiding in us.

All of us have access to the words of the Bible.  I do not know how many Bibles I have but it is at least 20.  Plus, online I have access to almost any translation of the Bible ever written.  But having and abiding are two different things.  His words abiding in me mean His words that I know.  That I have memorized and can quote them to myself.  They are in me whether I have my Bible or not and they are immediately useful to me whether I am trying to fall asleep or trying to help someone by telling them the truth.

So, are you abiding in Jesus and drawing from Him the life and power you need by surrendering yourself and your body to Him every day?  And are you working to have His words abide in you?

More on this tomorrow …. How you can accomplish this when you thought it impossible!


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