Within the last few years I have been given the opportunity to be able to look at and process life in a way that is different than I had before, and though it has been incredibly difficult—it has been even more so life changing.
Before I was at a place to open my heart and mind to God—I believed I had the freedom to do whatever I choose to do. That I could think what I wanted to think—I could believe what I wanted to believe—I could feel what I wanted to feel and I could do what I wanted to do—that I could in fact do more because I wasn’t limited by a set of morals that were imposed on me.
Shortly after I prayed to see and know Christ—I remember being challenged with the statement that God gave us a new mind and a new nature—I remember hearing of the love and the acceptance and the grace of God and that he gave us this new mind to look at the world and the people in it.
Ephesians 4:22-24 “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
Reading those words now they feel like a support wall being built up inside my heart—though oddly enough, a few years ago, when I first was being told and taught that verse I felt so incredibly shut down as I listened to those statements being shared.
I don’t claim to have completed understanding now, though at that time, I understood even less because I was so entrenched in the way of worldly thinking that it was grueling work to try and think or believe differently. I heard the words being spoken—now, I could live in freedom and not bondage because I accepted Christ. In doing so, I was given a new mind… However, I felt frustrated and angry that I was being told that God gave me a new nature and here I was in a brutal struggle with my own system of beliefs.
What I understood was that it was an exchange—
However, there were those times when I wanted to speak with scathing sarcasm instead of love…I knew it wasn’t the mind of Christ. Times when my anger was greater than my desire to hear another and I wanted to rage or walk away rather than press in…I knew it wasn’t the mind of Christ. Times when I preferred to linger in desire for the things that belonged to another or in sensual pursuits…when my flesh would cry out to be satisfied in any way that I knew was contrary to the things of God that I was being taught—I knew it wasn’t the mind of Christ.
During that time, I thought all I could do was try and change an outward behavior. I had no idea what it was like to not fight against my own sinful tendencies constantly. It was challenging to me to understand that I had been given a new mind in Christ because I was brawling so intensely with the desires of my flesh daily. Each day was exhausting as I entered into it with the knowledge that I had to fight and resist and strive. Trying to be something that I knew I wasn’t on the inside— I felt desperately inadequate, beyond words discouraged and utterly weary because I couldn’t do it. I was failing to change.
My world changed as I started pressing into God. It was no longer a path of mimicry and duplication of what I saw in others. Instead I turned my eyes to God. Strange indeed was that thinking when all I had done up until that point was to strive to be likethose who followed Jesus. This time though, I started seeing those promises that were made for me—those truths about what God thought of me—I began believing those beauty filled words were meant for me…and that began a heart change in me.
It’s my understanding now that we have two natures—my sinful nature as a wayward human and my new nature as a believer in Christ. Just as we build muscles when we use them, we in the same manner can develop self-control and use it. We will build and feed that which we want to make stronger.
When I am ruled by my emotions and react out of my feelings I give room and fuel that old worldly way of thinking—my sin nature.
However, when I choose to operate by using self-control I get to live a happier, healthier and much more whole life—that for this moment, just might look like Jesus…and I am thrilled about that!
Freedom in Christ and the gift of a new nature is a beautiful gift to be thankful for—the ability to choose to exercise self-control has been a significant part of that gift. For the far majority of my life, I saw that being someone who believed and lived as a believer in Christ, living under the burden of rules and condemning punishments. Though now, through God’s grace, I see that choosing to walk my journey with Jesus is not bondage as I had thought previously—living life as a believer of Christ is a life of love, of beauty, of grace, of intimacy and of indescribable freedom!
This may sound absolutely asinine, but I don’t have to do what I feel like doing.
Instead, I am free to do what I know is good, what is right, what is true and what is wise.
Philippians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Regulating and modifying my behavior to be something and someone on the outside that is different than what is going on inside is nothing but a façade. God help me today to be different. Help me to choose today to love those you have placed in my life. Help me to see the things that happen today with Your loving perspective.
Thank you Father that I don’t have to be ruled by emotions or impulses—
Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to choose differently—
Thank you that with Your help, I can live an overcoming life in Christ—
Thank you for God’s grace…thank you for His love.
Thank you for calling me beloved and for reminding me who I am—