I don’t know about you but sometimes I struggle. Yeah, I sincerely love Jesus and have given myself to him, trusting him, seeking him, consistent in fellowship, service, prayer and bible study; but, I still have areas in my life in which I struggle. If you’re like me; it starts with a thought. The “splinter” enters the mind, and there are times when I let it fester to the point that it brings about the disgusting pus of sin. BUT all praise be to God, as I walk with him, I am experiencing the truth that Jesus not only forgives sin, but is perfectly willing to share with us his victory over sin!
The reality is that as believers in Christ, God has declared us justified. Positionally so to speak, we are in Jesus, holy and blameless. Experientially, we are being conformed to the image of the Son as the Holy Spirit works within us on a daily basis. We exist in the tension between what God has done for us in Christ, what he is doing in us as we grow in him, and what he is going to do on the day salvation is fully realized. As we grow in grace, we find that we no longer live a lifestyle of habitually practicing sin; but, we are still very much capable of sinning. Because we have been born again by God’s Spirit and given a new nature, we are grieved by our sin as we sincerely long to be perfect, complete, and mature as he has called us to be. I haven’t got there yet, but I’ve learned a few things and I’d like to share one of them with you now.
Regarding that “splinter in the mind,” the Bible tells us, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14, 15 ESV) You can see the progression: temptation, sin, and ultimately death. I believe it’s usually at the point of that first thought (temptation) that the battle’s won or lost. The verses on our victory over sin are too numerous to cite here (google ‘em), but it is evident within scripture that, because of Jesus, we are/can be victorious. The thing is, when that first temptation comes we have all kind of twisted, pseudo-religious ways by which we respond. When tempted, have you ever offered up some kind of half-hearted token prayer like, “Lord please help me.” when you know you plan on giving in? Have you ever purposely hardened your heart to the voice of the Spirit, knowing you could escape temptation, but turned a deaf ear to the call to prayer because really you wanted to give in and didn’t want him to stop you? Sadly, I have to answer yes to both of those questions. “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When temptation comes, you must understand that you have been given victory in Christ. At the first thought, as soon as you feel that “splinter” enter your mind; call upon the Lord in sincere prayer. Take to him the temptation that has beset you! By the grace that he has given so freely to you, BE WILLING to let him give you victory. Our problem is that sometimes we simply aren’t willing for him to do it. Cry out to him understanding that “God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” The only prayer you may be able to muster is, “Lord, I’m willing to be made willing.” but willing he will make you! As you come to him in the hour of temptation, he will fill you freshly with his Spirit through whom “you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature.” My friend, we are victorious in Christ!
I remember being a kid and getting splinters from time to time. I knew Mom could get them out. She would heat the needle until it glowed and then carefully, lovingly extract the thing that was causing me so much pain. You know, I remember there were times I wouldn’t go to her, even though I knew she could help, because I was afraid. Looking back now, that seems really foolish, but don’t we do the same thing regarding the splinters of temptation that are in us. We know Jesus is more than able to help, but for whatever reason; we don’t allow him to. Foolish, huh? I’ll leave you with this:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”