For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:18-20, ESV)
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (Romans 7:18-20, The Message)
The struggle is so real sometimes. Being a Christian does not mean that my life on earth is a piece of cake! I honestly can say that life was so much easier when I was walking in constant sin. That's our nature!
So, moving on to the topic at hand...temptation.
I used the verse above, because Paul is speaking of indwelling sin. We, each of us, are inherently sinful. And yet, even after conversion, seem to still struggle with that which we do not want to do! Sometimes I feel as though I have tendencies like Hosea's wife - spiritually of course! I read through the Scriptures, spending time with God, I read about His love, His mercies and the joy that comes from knowing Him. He's given me new garment to replace my old clothes (Colossians 3:12-14) and is preparing a place for me that will be far greater than what I can ever imagine...and I still become tempted to go back to the filth He saved me from. The filth that He sent His son to die on a cross for, so that I can spend eternity with Him. The crazy thing is that, like Paul says, I do not want to do this. I do not enjoy this sin and every time I feel horrible that I've fallen once again. It almost makes me want to hide (Sound familiar? - Adam and Eve Genesis 3). Running and hiding. What is it about our sin that makes us want to run? Makes us want to try to cover up? Makes me think that God is just through with me when these are the times when I need Him most? It's in our weakness that His strength is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Even though I understand grace and understand that when Christ died on the cross he died for all of my sin, sometimes my flesh gets to running its mouth. Sometimes I just feel as though God is on His throne looking down on me like, "Dang, you did it again? C'mon son we just went over this!" You know that voice that creeps up right after you fall:
"God isn't going to forgive you this time" - "You fell again? When will you learn?" - "Why can't you get your act together?" - "You can't possibly go back to God after that!" - "I thought you were supposed to be a new creature?" - "Don't stop. You might as well keep on sinning"
That ladies and gentlemen, is the voice of condemnation. Not conviction. Not correcting. Not teaching. Not love.
We've been redeemed! Through the blood of Christ, we'll never have to hear "guilty". In Psalm 103 it is written, "so far as the East is from the West, so far has he removed our transgressions" (v. 12). Imagine that! The East and West will never meet!
Now of course I'm not saying that I accept the fact that I'm going to sin and I'm not surprised or grieved when I do. Even though we are inherently sinful beings, as believers our sin should still cause us to fall on our knees, cause us to cry out, but it should NEVER cause us to run away from God. That's not what He wants. Believe, it or not, God wants to sit and talk with us about this sin as written in Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
Often times I read that and think, "God, what is there to talk about? I sinned. End of story. Just go ahead and strike me down now". But God says, "No, I already did that to my only Son once and for all". And it's yet a battle. I continue to ask God "Are you sure, because I completely understand if you want nothing more to do with me". And yet, He keeps on loving. He continues to be patient. And He remains faithful - even when I'm unfaithful! That's the God I serve!
Of course, nothing is too far-fetched for God. Even Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4), but one thing I noticed about Jesus being tempted is that he did not hide, he did not fall into the temptation and he did not say "Lord, why me? Why must the struggle be so real?" Jesus simply used the scriptures to turn away from temptation (Matthew 4:4-10). How many times do we do that? I can say rarely! Most of us want to take after Adam and Eve and hide instead of taking on the character of Christ and using the power in the Word of God to fight our battles!
So, I'll be honest; my temptation is lust. It's cuffing season, it's cold outside and I live alone...you know how that goes. I won't sugarcoat it. I want to be in a relationship outside of the one I have with Christ - and bad! I'm not even talking about some random relationship or multiple relationships...I mean marriage...and to a man of God! When I was younger I had planned on being married by 21...I'm 22 and as single as can be. I can't remember the last time I was on a date or was even "talking" to someone. So, when I say the struggle is real, it's real. Lust is something I've struggled with for a while and each time I get so wrapped up with some guy, mostly emotionally & mentally, I want to run and hide. Because clearly God can't save me from something that I've been battling with for years. Yet....deep down I still know that He can :)
So my challenge, and feel free to join me, is to 1) Get to the root of this issue and 2) Turn to the Scriptures each and every time I'm tempted to fall and when I fall.
Every issue has its roots. I've noticed that some things I used to struggle with months and years ago are no longer an issue, but this, lust, is something deep. For instance, partying & getting drunk was easy for me to give up, because I started in college as a freshman. It was new, but lust and the desire to be in a relationship has cut deep since I was a little kid, so it's going to take a little longer. But with that comes repentance and lots of it!
Our Christian walk is not just "10 steps to overcome lust". I already tried that. I got rid of reality television, I stopped listening to certain musical artists, I got rid of my Cosmo magazines, I changed who I was keeping in my inner circle, I read my Word more, I prayed more and....I'm still struggling! The "10 steps to be a better Christian" is not going to work! No, we ask for forgiveness, we repent and we pray that God continues to cleanse us and guide us down the right path, the straight & narrow.
This wasn't necessarily a post to tell you how to overcome temptation. We are innately sinful and therefore it'll be a constant struggle. I'm very much aware that I will be tempted until my Savior comes back, but how I respond to that must change. No more hiding and no more running away from the only one who can save me - God.
So there's my transparency moment :) But I pray that this helps someone who may be struggling as well on their journey to womanhood. Just know that you are not alone!