Did you know that even the apostle Paul struggled with doing the right thing? Yes, this is the same Paul who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament.
Paul was very transparent about His struggle in Romans 7:15:
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
I can relate. How about you?
Paul is talking about how his actions were not lining up with his will. He wanted to do good, but he was not finding the power to do good in his flesh:
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”
What Paul is describing is a “no-win” situation. That is a terrible position to be in.
How many times had I struggled to do the right thing in my own power, only to fail and then condemn myself for it? In my case, my struggle was binging and overeating (gluttony). I failed too many times to count.
Paul discovered that the real problem was that he was looking for power to do good in the wrong place!
What is the right place?
This is essential knowledge if you want the victory in your weight loss struggle. Here is the reason why looking to the flesh for power to do the right thing is the wrong place to look:
For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will (Romans 8:7, New Living Translation).”
According to this scripture, the flesh will never want to do the right thing. That is the reason why willpower does not work ultimately. It’s like expecting a fox to guard the hen house!
Looking to his flesh for power to do good left Paul feeling frustrated and defeated. In Romans 7:24, he cried out:
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
But Paul didn’t leave us in suspense; he gave us the answer immediately.
I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Jesus could handle whatever happened to Him! He was victorious in every situation. In Him is love, power, strength, wisdom, grace, and truth.
Scripture describes the enemy as like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (see 1 Peter 5:8). For victory over him, you need a greater power – the Lion of Judah!
The power of the Christian life is in allowing Jesus to live out His life through us, His disciples.
He does this by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus lived in dependency upon the Father, so we live in dependency upon Him.
According to Romans 6:4-11, you were crucified with Jesus and you were buried with Him. Because of this, you are no longer a slave to sin.
The best news of all? Because Jesus rose again, so did you. The man (or woman) who went into the grave is not the same one who comes out!
You are now united with the resurrected Christ. You are a new creation, indwelt by Him through the Holy Spirit:
- Romans 8:10: “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.”
- Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
- Ephesians 3:17: “That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:6-7: “Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.”
Isn’t it wonderful that you can rely on Jesus’ power to live a life that honors Him, not your own effort?
That old way is exhausting, not to mention the result is usually a superficial change.
However, when you allow Jesus to live out His life through you, He gets all the glory for your victories, not you.
How do you allow Jesus to live His life through you? In Romans 7:25, Paul gives guidance:
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Decide daily and as often as necessary throughout the day to turn each issue that concerns you over to Him through a simple prayer:
“Jesus, I can’t do this in my own strength. Live out Your life through me.”
This is not about you trying harder and then stacking Jesus on top of your own efforts!
It is about seeing every situation through Jesus’ eyes. While you have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), you need to renew your mind from those old, dead ways of thinking.
How do you do that? Through the study and practice of God’s word. You receive His wisdom and power to do the right thing by faith.
When a difficult situation comes to your door, you send Jesus to answer it through faith or as a popular song goes, you pray, “Jesus, take the wheel.”
This will feel weird at first. When I started with this approach, it made me uncomfortable to realize just how much I was looking to the flesh for power to do the right thing – just like Paul!
But I soon realized that the flesh only wants to satisfy, justify, glorify, and even magnify itself.
Whether that satisfaction was from giving in to the flesh’s desires, justification from achieving certain goals, glorification to obtain the approval of man, or magnification to feed my pride, my actions were still flesh-driven and self-centered.
The flesh is like an “Affluenza” child: “I want what I want when I want it.” But as a child of God, the flesh is not the real you; your renewed spirit is the real you.
Your old man was buried with Jesus, remember?
It felt uncomfortable to say “No” to my flesh when I wanted to do something that was not good. During those moments, I sent Jesus to the door in a quick prayer: “Jesus, live through me.” I would then get power to resist by faith and carry on.
During one particularly difficult time, I could only repeat mentally, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” I pressed into Him for strength to ride through the storm and He gave it.
Submitting to Jesus’ authority and allowing Him to live through you is a process. Galatians 4:19 says: “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you.”
Spiritual formation takes time.
If you return to your old habits or find yourself looking to your flesh once again for power, say “I thank God that Christ is being formed in me,” then look to Jesus once again, obeying what He tells you to do.
He is the author and finisher of your faith.
As you go through this process, here are some things not to do:
- Do not condemn yourself for mistakes.
All you do is play into the hands of the enemy. He loves to accuse God’s children. But remember Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Situations like these show you why you need a Savior. God sent His word to heal you and deliver you from destruction.
- Do not say, “I will never succeed with this.”
When you do this, you are contradicting God’s word. God sees the person He created you to be, even as He is working on the person you are now. He sees the end from the beginning.
He will never give up on you, so you should never give up on yourself. Something glorious is being birthed in you!
Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
- Do not trust your feelings.
You are walking by faith, not by sight. You must settle in your heart that God’s word is true, no matter how you feel. This is very important during times of temptation and pressure.
Feelings can be deceptive, especially when they are generated from lying, manipulative thoughts (those that contradict God’s word).
Some of the lying thoughts that may come up include:
- Jesus doesn’t live in me.
- These habits control me.
- I have to do this. I have no choice.
- I’ll be dissatisfied, deprived, or miss out if I don’t do this.
- It’s not fair that everybody else gets to do what they want and I don’t.
That is your flesh talking, not your renewed spirit. Remember, your spirit is the real you, not your flesh. So do not agree nor identify with it.
When these lying thoughts come up, send Jesus to answer the door through His word! That is taking your thoughts captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Jesus died so that you might experience abundant life in Him, not to sow to the flesh. He said in John 6:63:
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
Power to overcome challenges is allowing Jesus to live through you! When you do that, success is guaranteed and His glory is assured:
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14).”
Author of the ‘Take Back Your Temple’ Program
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