Day 64: Feeling Overwhelmed


CHASING THE WIND

The way that Satan acts could not be more different from the way God acts. To those who are not observant, it can seem like God is entirely silent. Every day we see and experience the reality of living in a broken world. Illness, flat tires, misunderstandings, losing a job, and death are among many other factors that seem to scream at us that Satan and chaos are in control, while God is absent.

This cynical mindset is pervasive. Just the other day I was watching my niece's ballet recital and thought, "What's the point?" The show seemed to be a momentary suspension of reality where we all silently agreed to ignore the fact that one day we're all going to die. Later that evening I woke up in bed with an awful cold after just having gone through two weeks of fighting off another illness. Life can seem to consist of setback after setback, where passing moments of beauty are next to meaningless. Even scripture wrestles with the pointlessness life seems to be:

"I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the son." -Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Jesus replied “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” -John 8:34-36

The chaos of life and the temptations we face can seem overwhelming. Even if we are fighting to be free of sin, what's the point? What does it gain you? It comes back to our perspective:

I remember trying many many times to overcome sexual sin by my own strength. Sure, on the outside it appeared that I was doing it for the right reasons, but in my heart the motivation was completely wrong. I selfishly moved forward without a single thought of God. With this mindset, it was only a matter of time before I fell. I’d experience freedom for a few days, weeks, or even months on rare occasions. However, the "growth" was all temporary, and I remember asking God, "What's the point?"

With this mindset, it was only a matter of time before I fell. I’d xperience freedom for a few days, weeks or perhaps even months on rare occasions. It was all however temporary, and I remember asking God “what am I if not a slave to this torment?” Now we are to heed the words of Christ, and remind ourselves that we are free from sin. We are no longer bound by the law of this world because of His sacrifice:

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. -Romans 7:1-6

DUST TO DUST

Before accepting Christ, we were held captive by the repercussions of the original sin as depicted in Genesis. Genesis 3:17-18 says:

"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce throne and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

Man is not somehow exempt from this curse if you are not a farmer. The implications here are far more costly...As a result of the curse nothing comes easy; we have to work hard for any kind of result, and even what we do produce will turn to dust. Nothing we make will last.

The truth is, for those who do not have Christ, there isn't much of a point. By the effect of sin, death has mastered the world, turning to ash all the good fruit we could have otherwise produced. What was meant to be life giving work now produces nothing but death. Even Paul proclaims in 1 Corinthians 15:32, "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'" Without God and the hope of eternal life, everything we do is just a distraction from the morbid reality.

FINDING MEANING

Luckily for us, God has been at work quietly - restoring us to lives that are worth all our effort. In the power of the law (operating under the curse), we amounted to nothing. Our "good behavior" and "good fruit" failed to change anything about our circumstance. But, when we were united with Christ, we became part of an eternal family where our actions have very real and permanent effects. So, what is now the point to life?

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. -Romans 7:1-6

The sacrifice of Christ was powerful enough to wipe out every sin for you and for me for all eternity. Every debt has been paid for those called according to the will of God. And it all was freely given to us by grace, not by our own works.

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

Imagine that you’ve only been free from sexual sin for less than 24 hours. A fellow brother/sister in Christ has been walking in freedom for over 10 years. Both of you confess your sins before God this day and accept Christ as the mediator between you and God the father, who is more righteous before Him? Although the work of our enemy is obvious and blatant, God has called us to live an abundant life free from dead works and sinful deeds. The reality is, you weren’t good enough even on your best day. Neither was I, but the beauty of the cross is when we come before God, repent of our sin and accept Christ, we get a clean slate, a fresh start. This is why it is crucial that we pray a prayer of repentance daily.

We all must learn to recognize and resist the lies of the enemy. Many will make it this far and continue to stumble, giving themselves over to a futile way of thinking.. Remember, you are no longer a slave to sin, but alive and free in Christ. Once set free from your jail cell by Christ, the only one who can imprison you again is yourself. The enemy wants to convince you to go back and lock yourself in, but you are a pardoned prisoner. Why go back?

Day 64 Application

Have you at times felt like a slave, tormented by your sin?

According to Romans 7:1-6, why does the law no longer enslave us?

What is the difference for you if you spend time with God corporately rather than individually? Who are you comfortable inviting in to your intimacy with God?

What is important for you to be mindful of, so that you will remember how to remain strong in your sexual purity?