Resist the Devil and he will flee. (James 4:7)
On Monday I talked about finding the word recovery in early writings of the Bible and how Jesus is anointed to recover spiritual sight to us who believe. I also shared how my Bible study process begins with questions. Finally, we spoke about my husband, Sean, who reminds me that “we are [recovered] from the penalty of sin; we are [recovering] from the effects of sin, and we will be fully [recovered] to God in eternity (emphasis mine; I replaced “saved” with “recovered”). The middle section of this saying is where I want to focus this post- recovering from the effects of sin. Now, that we have regained our spiritual vision, we need to focus on building spiritual muscles to recover from those sins that so easily ensnare us (Hebrews 12:1).
A few months ago I spoke with someone who admits he believes in God but does not attend church regularly because it is full of hypocrites. Since becoming a Christian, I have heard this many times, and as a new Christian, I remember how awkward I felt not knowing if I should try and defend the church or leave these believers to their feelings. I’ve done both, but not this time! This time I felt the urge to defend the institution that has brought me so much joy.
I prayed and then I spoke, “The church is like a gym,” I said. “It has everything you need to succeed in a central location: like-minded people to support you, trainers and instructors, support aides, water, etc., and like the gym, your success is determined by your input.”
The Holy Spirit fed me an analogy that painted a beautiful comparison. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
Just like the gym is filled with individuals with different goals and motivational levels, so is the church. You have everyone from the very-motivated to the not-so-motivated. There are some who go to the gym or to church because someone convinced them it was a good idea.
I asked, “If you went to the gym and decided not to take full advantage of its resources, is it the gym’s fault if you don’t make your goals? Would you accuse the manager of false advertising if you didn’t lose weight?”
“No, you wouldn’t!” (I answered for him. I’m working on that).
“We’d blame ourselves. We’d say, ‘He/she wasn’t serious enough, or wasn’t ready to make the change.’”
“So just as we do not base the gym’s success on how well its members look or act, we cannot and should not do this to the church.”
I believe the Holy Spirit gave me that analogy because I am one of the very-motivated gym members. I am up at 4:00 a.m most days of the week so I can be at the gym by 4:30 a.m. Once there, I start off with some kind of cardio, walking or running on the treadmill; cycling; elliptical training; jump roping; or my new favorite, running on the Arc Trainer. I then move on to resistance training with either weights, pilates, or plyometrics, depending on which area of my body I’m targeting.
When I first started working out I was content with getting up and showing up consistently. And If I could get through 30 minutes of cardio without passing out, I was good. Mission accomplished! I was not interested in distance or speed. I was working on endurance. Then after about a month of doing the same workout someone told me, “You need to change up your workout often to avoid stagnation. It keeps your body guessing.” That became the new challenge. Not only did I need to switch up my workouts, I also had to increase the level of difficulty of my workouts if I wanted to reach my goals. In other words, I needed to work harder and not just be satisfied with doing the bare minimum. I needed to add more resistance.
If our goal, brother and sisters, is to recover from our sinful choices and become more spiritually strong, we have to intentionally add resistance to our lives, resisting those things that leave us feeling condemned and guilty, falling short of God’s expectations and are damaging to our witness.
When I started attending Celebrate Recovery I was struggling with depression, anxiety, anger and a host of other things. While attending the 10 month Step Study, I learned to recognize my symptoms and triggers for those emotional woes and prepare to overcome them. Now that I armed with this information, I can work toward resisting the struggles, but this effort has to be intentional.
Something else, although I started CR because of depression and anxiety, I learned they were a result of being codependent, (a strong belief that I can fix people and a stronger desire to be liked, wanted and needed). For me to get over these hang-ups and recover, I need to resist the desire to do them more and more.
In the book of Philippians chapter 3, Paul is comparing his old life as a Pharasi to his new one as a Christian. He says in verse 9, “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith”. He continues in verse 12, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection…” Verse 13 …”but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.”
Recovering from hang-ups means we have to be intentional about the change. It means we must actively resist those strongholds that are against the standards set by God, intentionally press toward righteous character, and consistently work at achieving it until that day Jesus returns to take us home.
Paul says in verse 10 of the same chapter of Philippians that his desire is to look like Jesus and experience the power that raised Him from the dead. Isn’t that all of our desires? Isn’t that why we became Christians? Each day God gives us brand new mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23). I love that! I like to say He gives us new opportunities to get “it” right and get over our “stuff”.
The change started with Him, but the next step is ours. We can’t blame the church, the pastor, the devil, sin, our parents or spouses if we don’t see Jesus when we look in the mirror. We have to act on the confession of our faith and change. We cannot expect to show up at the gym, do nothing, and get in shape.
Whether we are dealing with codependency, anger, depression, anxiety, alcohol, sexual immorality, gossip, jealousy, adultery, lying, stealing, cheating, overeating, drugs etc., we have a responsibility to get into spiritual shape, and we have the power and authority to do so.
We worship You for Your love for us, and it is our desire to please You in all we do. We want to represent You well. We want to be good ambassadors of Jesus Christ, but we are still struggling with sin in our lives. Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. We have been following the wrong one for so long, Please forgive us, and break the chains that still have bound to us our sins. Create a stronger desire to serve and honor You in all we do. In those areas we are weak-that we believe we have no power over, we ask You to strengthen us. Help us resist the temptations that trap us in sin and declare victory in the name of Jesus because You are worthy of our praises and sacrifices. Thank you for not leaving us blind, but instead bringing us the Light in Jesus Christ.
It is in his name that we pray,
Meet us back here Monday to see what Vanessa has to add in our Recovery series.
Also, we’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment, like and help us Share His Peace.
Now, let’s worship Him for He is worthy to be praised!
Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1).