I think one of the problems many of us have is we expect things to go easy or even well for us because we are Christians. Like knowing Christ is going to put us in a no-trouble bubble and everything is lollypops and cotton candy. We should have all we need and more, have a nice home, a happy wife, and a happy life because we know Jesus.
Then, when trouble comes along, we interpret it as God punishing us and see ourselves as the red-headed stepchild whose life is going to be miserable. We learn to escape the stress with an increasing number of sexual fixes only to find that porn and sex have us under its addictive power and sooner or later our whole life is going to blow up.
Where is this abundant life I am supposed to have?
Let’s back up and listen to what Jesus told his disciples the evening before his capture.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Look at the start the first Christians had in the book of Acts. They did not all find themselves living on easy street…none of them experienced that. Their leaders were arrested. Then they were arrested again and beaten. Stephen, one of the original 12 disciples, gets stoned to death and then a “great persecution” began, and everybody was scattered to other regions of Judea and Samaria.
Then we read this about a Pharisee named Saul;
“Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”
Our problem is we equate what Jesus promised as the “abundant life” to be life without problems. We interpret struggles and painful things in life as coming from God because He is disapproving of the way we live and is punishing us for our bad behavior. So, we only want to create more separation between Him and ourselves…and between us and the others we need and should be getting close to for help and support, but we do not because of shame.
Our punishment for all our sins has already been poured out. It was Jesus, His sufferings at the hands of the Romans and Jews being imprisoned and beaten all through the night. His being nailed to the cross and hanging there to suffocate to death as the hours passed. To have that moment when the Father had to forsake Him and then for Jesus to experience death not for His sins…He had none. That was the punishment for all our sins. He died in our place. He died for my sins and for yours.
When we are experiencing problems and suffering in this life, we are told in Hebrews 12:7-11 that a loving Father disciplines His children and God disciplines us not to punish and harm us but to help us. This is exactly what James writes in James 1:2-3…
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Discipline is a good thing designed to help us stop doing the things that are harmful to us and others. It makes us stronger. It helps us to grow up and become more mature. It teaches us perseverance or patience and makes us stronger inside. Inner strength is its design. It is strengthening us at our core so that regardless of what is happening around us we can stand strong and not lack anything.
Inner strength. That is what God wants to create in all of us. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. If we are daily walking in the Spirit, we will not be fulfilling the desires of the flesh. We will be saying NO to sexual sin because we are growing stronger and have an increasing amount of self-control.
Four things we need to be doing every day…
• First, daily I offer my body to God as we read in Romans 12:1-2. I offer to Him not just my body but everything I have because everything I have…He has given to me.
• Second, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me and influence me so that I am walking in the power of the Spirit with Him guiding me through the events of my day.
• Third, I pray on the full armor of God as we are told to do in Ephesians 6:10-17.
• Fourth, I remain connected to a small team of others with whom I am communicating every day.
This is exactly what we are doing in our Online Support Teams. I strongly encourage you and hope you join me as my guest in one of them and see yourself becoming more mature and complete in Christ. Just email me.