Lie 4: Sin Can Be Conquered by Effort

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Submit by October 30th if you want to be featured in a guest post exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series)

We’d like to believe sin can be conquered by our efforts. The enemy of our souls takes advantage of our desire to be victors, presenting us with the lie:

You can defeat sin if you try hard enough.

Wrong. Christ already defeated sin.

We are just responsible for resisting the sore loser roaming the battlefield, picking the lesser fights he can still win.

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The sore loser tries to win his little games by tempting us to use just our own weaponry. He challenges us about our own skills, distracting us from reliance on the One who has already beat him.

Case Study: Insecurity

Insecurity can be a sin when it dismisses God’s handiwork. Insecurity also seems like something we ought to tackle on our own. We think if we change our outlook, we’ll stop sinning against God wit hour insecurity.

Changing our outlook by effort alone is futile. How can we overcome insecurity if all the methods we go through use our own insecurities? Self-help books and compliments from other people only do so much.

Our behavior might shift, but our hearts need something more. Eventually, forcing ourselves to “feel” secure wears us out and makes us paranoid. Trying to change by our own strength is exhausting and ineffective.

To defeat the sin of insecurity we need a source of security. We need one with the power to defeat sin as it cripples us.

We need Christ’s strength, the Spirit’s leadership, and God’s armor to fully conquer anything.

Paul explains, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23.) Sin’s effect on human nature ensures our efforts to be good and defeat sin fall short. It ensures our insecurities exist for a reason- we don’t have absolute security in ourselves.

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“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus said of human effort’s sufficiency.

“There is only One who is good,” He explained, pointing out that God alone does not fall short (Matthew 19:17.)

Only God measures up to the glory of God.

Only God’s security is completely secure.

The solution, the bridge from “fallen short” to “all fullness of God,” is always Christ.

He is the only One whose efforts are enough to defeat sin.

God never suggests we enter battle armed with behavior change, healthier outlooks, or improved ideologies. But all throughout Scripture, God does calls us to the One who defeats sin.

Don’t skip ignorantly past the “only One who is good”, don’t bypass God’s “through.”

Through Christ we are transformed. Through Him we can do all things. Through Him we can boast in God. Through Him we are cleansed. Through the Spirit living in us….

Greater is He who is living in us than he who is living in the world.

It’s isn’t by effort we are changed into conquerors, but by surrender to Christ that we are transformed into those who can stand firm through the fight of faith. We stand firm because the war is won.

As G. Campbell Morgan phrased it,

We are not fighting the central battle, we are simply doing the skirmishing of administration. Armageddon was won on Calvary. Think of it, dear heart, and remember it sometimes.”*

The pressure is off. Your sin, even as a believer, will be defeated by resisting the temptation of life by your own effort and surrendering instead to the efforts of the Holy Spirit in you.

Surrender. Rely. Go through.

Thank the Lord…

We don’t have to fall short of the glory of God. By falling on Christ in the battle with sin, we fall on the glory of God Himself.

*The Simple Things of the Christian Life. Pg 45.

Submissions for this series’ conglomerate guest post are due October 30th! Excited!

Click HERE…old posts on sin are welcome too : )

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Maybe God Doesn’t Want Your Best

We’re an ambitious bunch.

Reach for the stars. Be all you can be. Unlock your potential.

This fits with Scripture right? Let’s see…

Noah’s greatest aspiration…probably not building an ark against all reason to survive a deadly flood.

Job. Job was successful. He did great things. And He was a Godly man. Then God let Satan mess up His life and take away His earthly possessions, loved ones, and health.

But that’s the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we meet Peter. Expert fishermen. Based on His devotion to Jesus and his faith, we can be pretty sure Peter was seeking to live a good, godly life. He ended up persecuted, jailed, and using his fishing talents on people who largely didn’t want what he was offering.

Paul was kind of a big deal. He even wrote up a whole list of why he had every reason to brag and was all set up for major success in life- as a God-fearing man. Then He met Jesus. All appearances of success and Paul reaching his earthly potential went out the window. God even gave him a thorn in the side, keeping Him weak.

About those aspirations….

Maybe God doesn’t want your best because He wants His best for you.

aspirations

The Lord we serve can use anyone and any circumstance for good. He can be glorified by teachers, celebrities, CEOs, and housewives. He can also be glorified by failures, criminals, the bed-ridden, and the crippled.

Your ability to earn top dollar and desire to use the money for good doesn’t make being CEO God’s goal for you. Your inability to read well doesn’t mean God’s plans for you don’t involve using words to share His Word.

So often we try to reason through God’s plans for us instead of submitting to and following His.

We miss out when be doubt what He prepares for us to do is even better than what we are prepared to do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

What that means for you and I is this: focus less on what you believe you can be successful in and more on who He’s made you to be.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Works

Solomon declared that all of his works brought only vanity and vexation. He drew for us the conclusion that none of our works are meaningful under the sun. Later, He encourages us to enjoy what we do for God approves of those who fear Him and keep His commandments.

But in all this, Solomon wasn’t just talking about occupation.

“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 2:11

In other translations, this verse is rendered without the word “works.” Some simply say “all that my hands had done.” Other translate “All of my activities.”

As Ashlee suggested in her guest post about trusting in a job, “works” can be defined as many things.

The definition of “works” in this context is a long list, including descriptors like:

  • Accomplishments
  • Achievements
  • Business
  • Arts
  • Activities
  • Actions
  • Labors
  • Practices
  • Yields
  • Things

Things is actually on there.

Our “works” are our “things.” They are what we do throughout our days.

Your “thing” of cleaning house?

Your “thing” of making others smile?

Your “thing” of mastering a lesson?

They all count.

Remember the famous, freeing words?

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

The definition of works here is very similar.

None of the things we carry out on earth earn us meaning, worth, or eternal profit under the sun. Can’t earn those. That’s all the free gift of God in Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for that. Because if I’m honest, it gets tiresome trying to build myself up creating some great profit or meaning out of the cleaning, the smiling, and the learning. These all have their role under the sun and they all have a place in my life.

But all the “more” I seek is found in Him. All the gain comes in Christ alone. Fearing Him and enjoying what he provides is enough.

So my works can just be things. They don’t have to be more than that. I don’t have to work on my works being more meaningful. What a relief!

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

What If My Best…

What if my best is simple?

More than a writer, I’m a thinker. My brain is constantly active- digging, absorbing, sorting, putting together, observing, etc. Etc.

As a thinker, I like details. I like to organize them all and fit them together to create a big picture. I love making points that lead up to a concept that sticks. And I suppose, as a writer, that’s a good thing.

But sometimes, my best writing is my simplest.

Sometimes, my best…anything…is simple.

My best worship is often a single lyric stuck on my lips, stuck on repeat. My best witness is often a sincere sentence spoken in regular conversation about ordinary things. My best praise is often a simple “thank you” thought-prayed to the Lord who knows what I’m referring too.

Though there is certainly a place for going in-depth, I think simple really is more powerful than we often realize. 

Some of the most powerful words in Scripture are the simplest- so simple a child could understand them.

“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

1 John 5:11-12

In fact the Gospel, the good news that leads to salvation through Christ, is simple enough to be shared around the world, in a few sentences, in every language, and in any circumstance.

When we read His Word for a few moments, we can take in just a simple line and be grown by it. A simple prayer can change our perspective. Simple blessings can boost our faith.

Following His example, I’m believing that when my best is really simple, God makes it more than enough. 

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

Giving Our Best

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”

Colossians 3:23

“He’s got a piece of my heart,” we say. “Do you want a piece of me?” we ask the confronter. Throughout the day, our schedules are divided into pieces: a half an hour block here, fifteen minutes there. For many of us, it sometimes feels like life is in pieces.

As John Stonestreet once said: “we do not have lives, but life.” One life. One heart, one mouth, one schedule that we can live out at once.

How, when we divide our lives into pieces in our minds and hearts, can we at the same time work with all our hearts for God? Or love Him with our whole heart, whole mind, and whole soul? We don’t often seem to recognize the whole of any of these.

Without that recognition, how can we give God our best? How do we even know what our best is?

All of the Scriptural statements about giving the best, flawless lambs (and other awe-worthy sacrifices) always frustrate me. I’ve never seen a flawless thing in my life. But my eyes are corrupt. My understanding is, too. Surely there was some standard in those Old Testament days. And there is now. Under the law of freedom in Christ as redeemed, adopted people…

The best we have to give is that which God has given us.

He has called His gifts to us good and He is the standard of good! What better to give Him than what He has declared good?

That sounds a little more feasible, doesn’t it? He never asks the impossible of us. The charge to do all to the glory of God is not there to show us how we fail, but how He succeeds in working with us, on us, and through us.

Invite God into every part and piece of your heart and your day. Ask Him into the moments you struggle and the moments of joy and praise. Offer Him the work before you so that it can be His- it will be better than what you could do on your own.

Share with Him all those pieces that He says will be made whole, and they can be wholly His and for His glory.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

 

Valentine’s and Trash?

On our first Valentine’s Day together, my now-husband gave me a box of trash. I’m not kidding. He walked around our college campus and picked up recycled items, newspaper clippings, old discarded pen caps, those cardboard slips you put around coffee cups, etc. He crammed it all in a box he found by a trash can.

Romantic, right?

He wasn’t commenting on what he thought of me, but on what I thought of Valentine’s Day. I thought the holiday was rubbish. In my opinion, Valentine’s Day was just an excuse for people to spend money and manufacture sentimental feelings or moments.

The box of trash proved me wrong. (Or was it the guy I later married?)

When I opened that box there was no ounce of manufactured anything in my laughter or the fun we had rummaging through it and making jokes. I didn’t have to worry about him spending a dime on me since money was tight.

All that silly box cost him was effort.

Inside, he had also tucked a note. Or rather, a digital treasure hunt guide. It went something like “Google such and such. Write down the third word in the fourth result that pops up.” The words spelled out the sweet and simple message. “I love you- in HIM.”

The other message that stuck?

He knows my worth in Christ, and that makes me worth so much to Him. In spite of all the muck and yuck of sin and love and challenges and money and holidays and expectations, he thinks I’m worth the effort. Even when I don’t want to be.

Let me tell you, that’s a gift that we’re not all so willing to give.

“Dear friends, let us love one another,

for love comes from God.”

1 John 4:7

What love comes from God? A love that says “you’re worth the effort” in the big and the small. In the cross and the sitting down to explain –again- that parable, because they weren’t really listening.

I’m not saying that’s all that love is, but effort proves value. And I’d like to encourage you today to make the effort to love others, even if all you have to give seems like garbage.

Give the time, give the laugh, and give the message clearly: you’re worthwhile to Christ, so you’re worthwhile to me.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.