In my old life my obedience was to my sinful nature. I was slave to it. I lived in bondage not even realizing it was bondage I was in. I also had many idols that may not have been very obvious to others but I knew they were there. But then something happened to me over 20 years ago which I knew I had nothing to do with. A change took place in me and it was definitely supernatural. I can’t now and couldn’t then pinpoint the time or day it happened. All I knew was that I realized one day that something in me had changed. And it was just the beginning.
I wanted to change. I didn’t want to live the life I was living anymore. I wanted to be a better mom, that was something I longed for. I didn’t care if I married again. For the first time I stopped looking and decided that would no longer be a goal for me. I didn’t need to convince myself, it was for real. I remember having a conversation with my mom about this. I told my mom that if I never met anyone and remarried that would be fine with me. That just didn’t matter to me anymore.
So my faith journey began. I was seeking God even though I didn’t know the first thing about seeking Him. I talked to God ever since I can remember and I always knew He was there. I talked to Him in good times and in bad. But the relationship I had with Him at a young age differed from what I was taught in church. It didn’t involve getting to know God. It only involved religion and how to be religious. From my early experiences with Him, I knew there was more to God than that.
My hunger and thirst for God grew and grew. I spent days, weeks, months reading Scripture and praying even thinking at times I must be crazy. I was soaking it all up like a sponge, really. I couldn’t get enough. Then one day as I was talking to someone I recited a verse as it pertained to the conversation. I was surprised because I never memorized Scripture. But there it came out of my mouth. I knew the Scripture because I understood what God was telling me. What a revelation that was.
In frustration I tried to live like a Christian, at least what I was taught a Christian lived like. But I found it to be exhausting and difficult. I finally realized I couldn’t change myself. I knew this to be true because I had tried over and over again to change certain things and I continued to fail. I’d do well for a little while but then I’d revert right back to my old ways. Nothing I did stuck. Something was not right. I was done trying. I realized that I needed to train myself to yield to His Spirit, not try to make my old self stop sinning, that, I learned was IMPOSSIBLE. All He was teaching me was coming together! In the meantime, some would say I was being too hard on myself. Others would tell me, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But I knew if I allowed those things to be part of my thinking and way of life that it would only hold me back from knowing Him more and more. They were just excuses because as many would say, God knows we’re human. I knew there was something more. And there was and is! Looking back at this reminds me of what the apostle wrote in Romans 7:14:25:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
So why do we do the things we don’t want to do? It’s because our nature is innately sinful. We can’t be anything but sinful. Without the Spirit of God residing in us we have the nature of sin. This is what Romans 7 is all about. But when we are made new in Christ, our old nature is done away with and we live in the newness of Christ. This is what Romans 8 is all about. We are hidden in Christ. Do you understand what that means? It means that it’s His nature in us that is revealed in the way we live our lives. So ask youself the question I ask when I examine myself: To which are you yielding? God’s Spirit or your sinful nature? In Romans 8 Paul also talks about those who are in Christ have no condemnation. True life and freedom are in Christ therefore life and freedom come from Him. But we also must learn from God and train ourselves to be obedient to the Holy Spirit. Anyone who is free does this. Those who are not free will not do this. But if you desire true freedom and don’t want to live in bondage one more day, then trust in Jesus who is the way, the truth and life! Because no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:5-7). Jesus will open up your mind to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45) like He did with me, someone who had very little knowledge of Him and little or no knowledge of Scripture. He will teach you His ways and you will understand and believe that He means what He says, including this passage of Scripture from 2Peter 1:3-4:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
May you find life and true freedom in Christ!