Anyone who is a believer in Jesus Christ can testify to the struggle of battling with sin. Though we have new life in Christ, that life is anything but one removed from the absence with this struggle. Daily fighting is necessary to say “no” to temptation. We quickly learn that our personal resources are not sufficient in this battle. Clearly we know that we need God’s word, the work and power of the Holy Spirit, and prayer. We know we need to keep a clear view of the finished work of Christ and a biblical community that helps us stay focused, that challenges us and encourages us. All these are necessary and important. But what is the goal of it all? Why battle against sin? What are we fighting for? What is the goal of avoiding a yielding to temptation? The goal of the battle and method of the battle are inextricably connected—to know and live in the fullness of God, trusting Him to be all that our hearts need and crave. The battle means we must accurately understand the essence and effects of sin and search the Bible in order to find God’s remedy. What we will find is that the solution is faith. Let’s look deeper.
There are many base sins that drag us alone in life, making us miserable. We experience sin as coming from other people, but also from within ourselves. So we often respond sinfully to the sins of others. Wow, we are a mess. But there is no sin that seems to bring the displeasure of God than that of self-righteous pride. Interestingly, the nature of this sin tends to blind us from its presence in us, since we think highly of our standing before God and other people. To whom then are we accountable? Who can be helpful in battling our sin when we either refuse to see it, or we disqualify those who could as worse sinners than ourselves? This is an ominous dilemma resulting in broken relationships and hardened hearts, as the sin of pride makes unavailable gracious help where needed.
Enjoying Being Made Different
God’s design of gender is fascinating to me. Beyond the obvious reason of reproduction, what is God’s purpose in making male and female? Personally, I enjoy aspects of both genders. Having a wife, two sons and two daughters, I have first-hand experience of the complexities and delights of relating to men and women in the context of a household. As a husband to a wife, I enjoy specific aspects of my wife’s femaleness that transcend every other relationship that I have with other women, including my daughters. As a dad to daughters, femaleness is seen, enjoyed and appreciated in ways that are not present in my sons. As a dad to sons, there is a unique way in which we relate as men that is deeply enjoyable and different than those experiences with either my wife or daughters. Some of these differences are owning to that each of these family members is a unique individual, with his or her own specific personality, likes and dislikes, quirks and peculiarities. On the other hand, there is something profound to be said about gender in making up the differences that I enjoy and appreciate in them all. Outside my family, I experience the uniqueness of gender in various contexts and relationships. As a counselor, I find that though the fundamental struggles of life are common to all people, being broken and living in a broken world, there are unique ways in which I experience men and women in the counseling room. Those differences are sometimes very difficult to explain, being woven into a complex array of the many things experienced in a counseling relationship. Suffice it to say, that God’s design of gender is good, as is all of His creation, and that His unique design of gender is to be enjoyed as He intended it. There is a sense of understanding gender in accordance with God’s intention of design that is prerequisite if we are to rightly enjoy and appreciate the distinction of the sexes. I’d like to use this blog to explore more about what it means to be a man in accord with God’s design.
We’ve been talking about finding joy in our praying. In the last blog, Hebrews 12:1-2 served up good food for thought concerning prayer. We learned that seeing Jesus more plainly is the intent of our praying, as well as the means by which we become encouraged to pray. Jesus, as faith’s author, has provided us faith and promises to complete our faith. We come to Him in prayer by faith, believing His promises and provision. In Jesus we have access to God, which is ours by faith.
A common complaint I hear from people and also experience myself is that of the struggle to pray. Many are those who are frustrated because they feel prayer is essential, but have so little desire to pray or that they do not know how or what to pray. Many factors contribute to our penchant toward avoidance of prayer, but when we struggle in these ways, prayer becomes burdensome rather than desired and freeing. My hope in this and the next blog is to provide thoughts that give new direction and hope in our praying. My prayer is that these musings will prompt in you a deeper desire and freedom to commune with our Lord.
Sarah is the mother of five children who still craves the approval of her mother. Feeling that the problems in her home were caused by her arrival as an unwanted addition to her family, she set out to prove she could make her parents happy with her. Believing that fights between mom and dad were caused by the stress that she brought into their relationship, she often became their mediator. Seeking to solve her parents’ marriage problems, she sought every possible way to please them. Unable to do this, she, in desperation, sought affirmation from other people outside of her parents. Being for others what they wanted her to be became a theme in her life. Seeking affirmation and love, she sexually compromised with several boys in high school and college and resorted to numbing her pain with alcohol and drugs. Sarah was unsure of her identity and to whom she belonged. All she ever wanted was to know that someone was pleased with her and that her existence mattered.