On the last day of March, which was a Wednesday I believe, God began to reveal to me the strength that I have in Him to overcome my struggles, to overcome the fleshly desires still so potent in my mind.
I was in the midst of studying 1 John. At the time, specifically, I was reading about the consequences of denying sin in our lives and the idea that we have come to know God if we obey His commands (1:8, 2:3-6). If you’re looking for conviction, which I was, look no further!
In my despair of slipping yet again back into a pit of bad decisions, which have a nasty habit of entwining themselves into multiple aspects of our lives, God reminded me of His provision and His instruction:
Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Romans 13:14
Such simple instructions, buried in a verse so often read, and yet how difficult this task can be. Don’t think about it! I so often swear off this habit or that problem, but I dwell on them still. (I dwell on everything; introspection is perhaps my greatest asset and my greatest hindrance.) Don’t think about it! If I am struggling with lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or pride of life (which comprise the character of worldliness), I cannot allow Satan a foothold in my thoughts. These thoughts fortify strongholds and disrupt the godly contentment we can hope to receive otherwise.
We must also remember that it is not by our strength but by God’s.
For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.
First, we must not forget Who God Is. He is the Lord God Almighty. In Him we can do all things. He arms us with strength and makes our ways perfect (v. 32) – I interpret this one of two ways: He knows the paths we travel and He founds them, and all of our ways are clean and perfected in His presence, through the blood of Christ. He enables us to stand, to stand firm in all things (the heights) through Christ (v. 33). Not only does He do these things, but He also trains us for battle (v. 34); He fights with us, not for us, although He is the only ultimate victor, the only One worthy of all honor and glory. On top of these, He lavishes both protection and victory upon us (v. 35); He sustains us.
Ready for the best part? (I feel like it’s Christmas; honestly, what more could we possibly need or even desire?) He, the One Who Is above all creation, descends to our lowly place and raises us up (v. 35); He raises us up to make us great!
After all of this, I was ensnared in His vast love and mercy and grace. I cannot lie, I still struggled/struggle, but my hope and faith is renewed, and I am encouraged.
While what is written previous to this is from months ago, tonight I found further encouragement, if you will.
John, in Revelation, writes to the seven Asian churches. In each letter to each church the author addresses “him who overcomes” (2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21). God lavishes His blessings on those who overcome, those who do His will until the end.