Day 63: Live Like a Champion


ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES

Have you ever stopped to wonder why "everyone loves an underdog"? Sometimes I'll watch football games between two teams I couldn't care less about, just to see how the action turns out. When one team takes a lead, I find myself cheering for the losing team even if its just to see a good game. There seems to be something about the odds being stacked against us that makes our hearts come alive. We want to believe the same is true of us - that we can come back from failure, adversity, and heartache to find ourselves victorious.

In order to do so, we must do something incredibly dangerous: we must stay in the battle when it appears as though we are losing. But how can we possibly find the strength to stand back up when all seems stacked against us? The secret lies in the gift of Christ. Through redemption in Jesus, we find that the war has already been won - it has lost the power to define us. Our ability to get it right, to win the game, and to look good doing it, isn't what defines us any longer. We have been given the victory - we need only act like it.

This is not unlike how a boxer "rolls with the punches." On the topic, it's been stated as such:

Rolling with punches is something that is considered to be the pinnacle of technical genius in the striking arts, but it is really not as difficult as it seems. The idea of rolling with punches is to move ones head in the same direction as the force of a blow as you receive it, thereby taking off much of the force. [1]

One boxer that did this with mind-boggling efficiency was Muhammad Ali:

We too must learn how to fight in the midst of enemy attacks. They will often come without warning and will not stop until we are on the ground, figuratively speaking. The good news is we can learn to have such focus in the midst of temptation that we slip past every strike the enemy throws.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Do you think boxers such as Muhammad Ali, Wilfredo Benitez and Niccolino Locche learned to master their skills overnight? Did it all come completely naturally to them? Some of it did, but raw talent is never enough. We need to hone our skills against temptation, which will unfortunately mean us taking a beating more than once in the process.

But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. -Ephesians 5:3

When we are trapped in sin, we are working against what we were made to be. Through Christ, we are redeemed, and there must be no hint of sexual immorality in us. This is no longer your identity - you have been set free from that lifestyle. You have been set free from your old self.

Picture

Part of training ourselves to withstand the attacks from the enemy is remembering how far we've come. So often we get tunnel vision and focus on the here-and-now. We forget how far we've come and how long the road behind us is. This was the case in my own life for a long time. When I was apart from Christ, I acted like a product of the world: I was filled with anger, pride, jealousy, rage and immorality. I rebelled against God and authority often because I thought that the world revolved around me. I was merely a pawn in the larger game, trying to hold on to pleasure and rid myself of pain. But God, in His mercy, softened my heart and made me new. This verse took on a whole new meaning for me:

Picture

Indeed I had a heart made of stone in the past, I was attempting to do things on my own, and it wasn't getting me anywhere. Then God came and changed everything. Allow me to illustrate how God softened my heart:

Imagine that life is a basketball game. Everyone wants to be on the court, and everyone wants to be the top dog. Players seem to do whatever it takes to be the best - they will lie, steal, and kill; and though some may practice and be patient, they are all vying for the same prize. Your ability as a basketball player shows your worth as a man, and you quickly learn that you will be mocked and outcasted if you don't measure up. Over time, as the competition grows more fierce, you find yourself becoming someone you don't recognize - all so that you'll one day sit on top and be the man, the object of everyone's envy. But, despite your best efforts, you can't seem to get it right. No matter what you do you always end up just fighting to do the basics. Even if you were to find yourself on top, you know that you'd have to fight to keep it.

Now, imagine that the world's best basketball player (let's make it Michael Jordan), comes up to you and hands over to you all of his awards: 6 NBA championships, 5 MVPs, Rookie of the Year, 10 Scoring Champion, Defensive Player of the Year, and too many others to count. You find on all of those awards, your name has been written in. Suddenly, the game becomes irrelevant. You've been freed from the scramble to the top, to be the best. You've been made into a champion.

As amazing as that sounds, the reality is that what Christ has given us far eclipses any glory that could possibly be given to us by man. It doesn't matter if you have the Medal of Honor, Nobel Peace Prize, or any other honor - it is nothing compared to having your name eternally written in God's Book of Life.

“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self,created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. -Ephesians 4:2-24

DON'T CREATE YOUR OWN DEMONS

My former self is something I’m not proud of, but now I am made perfect before God. All of us who know Christ, including you, are now saints before God. We are no longer bound or defined by our old habits of sin and deceit. No longer are we guilty, damned for an eternity in hell. Quite the opposite, we are alive and well, having been freed from sin through Christ, clinging onto the hope of heaven.

To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. -Romans 1:7

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours: -1 Corinthians 1:2

At the time, and even in some ways today, becoming a saint is a rare thing. The importance of today's lesson cannot be missed. Although to man sainthood is something that must be earned, obtained even, we have it as a free gift from God.

Day 63 Application

How would you describe the “new” you vs the “old” you?

How does God soften our hearts and free us from the struggle of life? How have you experienced that?

If you encountered someone who thought they knew nothing about God, what would be something important to you that you would want them to know? Why does that matter to you?

Has your understanding of what it means to be sexually pure changed since this course began? Why or why not?