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Monday, July 23, 2012

You Can't Save Yourself

The battle against lust is one that we cannot win. We have no power to fight it or put it to death. This seems to be a hopeless battle. But it's not hopeless. The good news is that Christ can save us from lust. He can set us free the stronghold of lust.

Many times lust is the problem that gets all the attention in our churches. We make rules and set up all sorts of little plans to battle lust. We might commit to accountability, join small groups, cut off our internet connections, or try a whole host of other things to try and win the battle. The problem is that without an understanding of God's grace and the cross, all those practical strategies will fail. They might work for a moment but without the heart being changed or desires are still the same.

Youre Never on Your Own

Yet we are Christians. We are called to be holy. Think on that for a moment. Holy. We are called to be set apart from this world. We are called to be God's people.

In our fight towards being set apart we often want to do things our way. We want to do things by our will and our power. We want to set up rules and try and be holy. We, as Christians, want to be holy. Romans 3:20 says "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." This shows us the folly of trying to be holy on our own. Galatians 3:3 reinforces this point when it says "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" We are fools to think that we can set ourselves apart. We cannot do it.

Romans 6:5-8 gives us the solution. "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." We have died with Christ. Christ death has set us apart and made us holy. There is nothing that we can do to add to this holiness. Nothing. It is a finished work.

But what does knowing that Christ has made us holy do in our fight against sin? Why is it so important to understand and preach to ourselves what happened on the cross? Once again we go to Romans for the answer. Romans 8:1-4 tells us There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Dwell on those verses for a moment. Spend some time thinking on no condemnation. Let the truth of our guilt and shame being removed sinks deep into your mind and heart. The vilest wicked sinner is no longer hated by God but is now loved. God has accepted you in Christ. The condemnation has been removed.

Yet often times the guilt of our sin still pulls and weighs us down. We grow discouraged that we have not seen victory in our life. We despair that our fight with sin has gone on for so long. Charitie Bancroft writes about this struggle in the hymn Before the Throne of God above. His words capture the struggle and guilt that sin produces.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

When Satan tells us that your sin has separated you from God tell him that you have been pardoned. When Satan tells you of your guilt, look to the cross. Our sinful souls have been counted free. We have been pardoned. When we come before Gods throne and repent we find forgiveness. If its the first time we ask or the millionth time we have asked. He has put an end to our sin.

Gods grace does not end at the cross. Trusting in Christ is just the start of Gods grace. Salvation starts a process of looking forward to future grace. Titus 2:11-14 give us a great picture of what we have to look forward too. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Its Christ who purifies us. It is Christ that perfects us. We dont do it. He does. He will redeem us from ALL lawlessness. He will bring us to the point where our lives are free from the smallest hint of lust and impurity.

Hebrews 4:15-16 also shows the compassion that Christ has for his people. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Draw near to Christ. Dont let your sin keep you from Him. Let your sin draw you near. Let your sin show the need we have for the savior. Come and find mercy. He is calling us all to find grace in our time of need. Lust cannot keep us from Christ. As we draw near and call on Him he will purify us. All we have to do is come.

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