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Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose: God wants us to overcome personal sins but how? We will look at how to practically put to use the points learned from spiritual warfare to overcome problems of self-reliance and insecurity.
Being an Overcomer is part 5/5 of the third lessson, Gaining Strength, in the Discipleship Level 2: Reaching Beyond Mediocrity.
Let us work through what we have learned above through two situations.
We have put a lot of time stressing the importance of belief or faith upon our lives. If we find that we are hopeless, then we know we have given up our confidence that God can help us in a certain area of life. Hopelessness is not from God. By it we can instantly detect one or more false assumptions that we have adopted. "I guess God can't help me."
The faith definitions of the sins and righteous ways are important by helping us clarify what we need to believe to live correctly. They help by putting a spotlight on our minds. They uncover what we wrongly believe so that we can confess and highlight the truths that we have left behind (we leave them behind by doubting them). By building up our diligence in seeking truth and righteousness, we will build up our strength.
I earlier mentioned one example of self-reliance. Let me use that one example with a chart and then another one. Our goal is for you to be able to do this for your own life. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with our intellectual prowess, experience in life or wealth. God gives us this wisdom when we seek Him. It is free and heals in contrast to others who charge more than a hundred dollars just to talk to you. Healing not included.
The power of the Gospel, however, shows itself in the way it leads people to genuine freedom! Just think of a 100,000 godly Indian or Russian Christians. If they set their hearts fully on the Lord, then God will shine through them and light up their nation.
I do not get anything from His Word. I tend to blame God if I think about it. I am suspicious (i.e. doubt about) whether God's Word can really help me. In reality (i.e. this is the truth) God is ever so willing to speak to me.
The real problem is that I do not really think I need Him. This is not true. I really do need Him. My mind goes back and forth detecting lies and truth. It is a battle for my mind and of course the control of what I later think and do.
I do not believe I need God. Because of this I have other doubts whether God can speak. Actually, the real problem is that I have become spiritually distant and am just 'coasting' along without any dependence upon God. I left Him behind and therefore sense the other problems like the silence (not hearing from God).
Once I see the falsehood, I immediately dive into repentance and confession. Sometimes other wrong beliefs pop up when confessing one's sins. Confess what is needed. For example, while confessing, the Lord might speak to you about 'thinking how meeting that person yesterday brought so much hope into your life.' You forgot that it was God behind it all and started putting your confidence in that person rather than God. God might later block that 'open door' by closing it so that you are sure it is Him and not that person that will prosper you.
Someone has asked what we should do if we are resistant to change. That is a very good observation. I find it happens a lot. We need not fear. Remember it is here that we see the power of light. Just begin confessing aloud all your sins. Your pride has kept God away, but now as you tell Him how spiritually impoverished you are and need His work, God will already be shining His light into your heart. I notice that when I do this, God brings certain things to my mind to help me fully confess as well as promises to hold onto. I warn you. If you try to rationalize these things, you are doomed to failure. You need God's light which comes through humbling one heart.
God often works through scriptures to give us discernment, uncover lies (this is the light driving away darkness) and giving us the right way (truth) to think and believe. In this case the truth was that those that believe on Him will not be disappointed.
Depending on what you know of the Word of God, this sometimes comes easy and sometimes hard. The more you do it, the better and quicker you get at it. Maybe, for example, I am reading through a Psalm and come across a verse like Psalm 22:5, "To Thee they cried out, and were delivered; In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed" (Psalms 22:5).
You are about to complain how you show God how much you trust Him by regularly reading your Bible, but then God prompts you by His Spirit and says, "Do you really believe you need me? The Psalmist cried out to me but do you?" And as He brings discernment into your mind, you respond in prayer. His Word is pointing out the truth that provides the needed insight.
Confession is two-sided. It has to do with confessing what is wrong but also adopting what is right. It is critical that you pray out both sides, the confession as well as focusing on where you should be. You seek forgiveness for what you did not believe and the wrong behavior stemming from it, but also confess the way you should have lived out your life. You need to seek Him to reach where the Lord has enabled you to be. Now you need to greatly depend upon the Lord. Always sincerely pray aloud if you can. Thoughts are clearer if they can be spoken aloud. Writing your prayer is fine if you cannot pray aloud.
"Lord, you are right. I am not trusting in you but in my circumstances. Please forgive me. But now, O Lord, I want you. I trust you. Come and feed my soul. Come teach this poor servant. I have nothing without you and everything in you. In Jesus Name, Amen."
People crave love. This need of love and acceptance is important. The problem goes back to the time when Adam mistrusted God's good will for them and sinned. Because of a lack of trust in God's love, they made faulty decisions. They thought their solutions were better.
It is interesting to note that by thinking someone (i.e. the serpent) had a better interest in their lives by making certain suggestions, they actually betrayed the One that had so faithfully loved them. Today's world is indeed a spiritual battlefield for love and attention. People look in every direction for that love and security but to God. They need to secure that love for themselves. They just do not understand how their solutions are really just complicating the problems.
When a person doubts God's love, he is insecure and seeks affection from others. They feel very insecure. They might not act it. ￼In fact, they might seem rather bossy, in charge or offended. The point is that they deeply need affection from others. Criticism like an earthquake shakes their whole world.
God can hardly train such individuals because they doubt His love. They fail to look beyond the trial to trust God. They believe they have been abandoned. "No one loves me." God in fact greatly cares for them. See the lie? The truth is the opposite to the lie as it usually is.
They end up by making conclusions through which they take things into their own hands. They believe they need to handle things their way. They have to take care of their own lives. When a person is quick to doubt God's love for him, he tends to depend on others for that deep affirmation of love. This might be a boy, girlfriend or spouse.
People are not able to provide others that kind of deep down security. They never were meant to. God designed people to find their chief assurance of love and goodwill from God.
Without a knowledge of God's love, they often find different means to distract them from their feelings of insecurity (feeling unloved). This often results in addictive or bizarre behavior. They will seek affection from others anyway they can. The example below uses a girl but boys (men) also face this problem.
Individuals should find their security in the Lord's love for them (we are speaking of God's children here). Those who trust in God's love have the ability to trust in God's constant love for them even when others reject him. Jesus trusted His Father even when everyone opposed Him.
Once we identify what we are to believe, it uncovers the lies that we believed about God and ourselves. If we only focus on God at this point, we would say that the person for some reason does not believe in God's constant love for them. They would say God is love but they do not believe it. They should have learned this back in level 1. They are still struggling. Because of this constant doubt, they have no assurance of their salvation. They are easily manipulated.
When correcting our hearts and minds, we should discover the truth about God's love for us. There are many verses that speak of God's constant love for His people. (We might have to first assure ourselves that they are believers). Many verses speak about the lovingkindness of the Lord being everlasting.
"For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalms 100:5).
"The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).
Romans 8:32-39 is a powerful large section of scripture addressing the issue of our security.
"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:32-39).
As she meditates on these truths from God's Words, the words begin to remind her on how she does not feel loved. A deep emotional pain arises because she remembers the thought that she is not loved by anyone. At the same time God brings His truth to her mind that He does love her. The verse begins to bring comfort and healing. Perhaps...
Each of these thoughts could be experiences through which the evil one came to her and sponsored the false conclusion that no one loved her including God. God does love her but she doesn't really believe it. These verses, however, affirm the truth of His love for her. Her mind is the battlefield. She needs to renew her mind. How?
She meditates in the truths and compares what she believes with what God says. As this is done, the lies begin to loosen their strength, and the truth takes roots. She could say in her heart each time she begins to doubt or tempted to respond wrongly,
"Dear Lord, thank you for your love. I know I have doubted your love. I should not have. You have never shown yourself to me in such a way that I should mistrust you. I thought wrong about your love. Please forgive me for doubting your love for me. You have given your very best to me, Jesus. You want me to be close to you not only in eternity future but right now. I thank you for your love. I desperately need your love. My heart aches because of past things said to me. I believed them. They were incorrect. Now in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ, wipe these things away with your blood and teach me about your love like nobody can. These next three months will be a time that I daily set before you and meditate on your love for me and others. Please renew my mind. Please teach me. In Jesus' Name, Amen."
There are many things to keep in mind as we progress, but most of all is that we have plenty of opportunity to master these principles as we discuss one topic after another.
Future lessons will apply all of these lessons to learn how to overcome difficult personal problems. God is building up our strength so that we can be overcomers through Christ.
This concludes lesson three, Gaining Strength, of the Discipleship Level 2 series.
Discipleship at the 2nd level
by Paul J. Bucknell
God's Word comes alive as you learn how to use it to overcome personal struggles like anxiety, depression, pride, lust and anger. God has made you strong! Many worksheets! (300+ pages). This is the full resource with all the complete and updated pages included!
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988