The only obstacle to victory

 

Victory over every evil, shortfall and sin in our lives is the heart cry of every individual whether they know it or not. Not everybody knows that there is such a thing as sin and evil in life. There is even a teaching and belief that the balancing of good and evil is necessary and beneficial. Everybody experiences untoward, unhappy and bad things in life. But not everybody knows the cause of these things. Knowing the cause give us the answer and solution to the problem of evil. The cause is told us by Jesus in the book of Matthew.

 

Matthew13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

13:26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

13:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

13:28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

 

We live in a world created by God, however we find both good and bad in life today. Where did the bad come from? Jesus tells us that the bad comes not from the original creation but that it came after creation from the enemy of God. So is there a solution, and answer to avoiding the bad and choosing the good in life?

 

Yes there is, but it is not as simple as choosing the good and avoiding the evil. Why not? The problem is that the soil in the field represents our minds and involves our centers of desire. In our thinking is both good and bad thoughts. Feelings and desires follow thoughts. Can't we choose to think the good and refuse to think the bad and evil? The answer is yes and no. God protects our freedom of choice with His life! But we do not have the power in us any more today to exercise our freedom of choice as we would like to any more! God tells us in the writings of the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 7 what the problem is. We can all identify with this problem!

 

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

So what is the problem? I know better than I want to do and I know better than I do! Why do I do less than I know would be good for me to do? There are two reasons:

 

a) I can't do in and of myself what I know I should do. I want to but can't perform it on my own.

b) I do what I want to do! The popular song says: “I did it my way!”

 

 

So what is the solution to my lack of ability to think or to perform the good? Is there a solution?

 

The solution is hidden in these cryptic words of Jesus:

 

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

 

Now if you think you are reading someone else's mail, dismiss that that thought from your head. You may not recognize that it is Jesus that you want, but if you want something from somewhere – anywhere – that is better than you presently have – then stay tuned. Jesus said there are three steps to getting something better than you now have:

 

a) deny self

b) take up the cross

c) follow Jesus

 

When we lived in Montebello, a suburb of Los Angeles in California down the street a door or two lived a family who had a very young daughter by the name of Mary Rose. She was a pretty little girl with golden curls. Mary Rose loved to come over to our house and visit which she often did. I was not much older than Mary Rose, but I listened mostly to the conversations between my Mother and Mary Rose. We soon both learned that Mary Rose had a standard line she often used in an effort to get what she wanted: “Don't you want me to be happy?”

 

Well my Mother ran out of ability to make Mary Rose happy and one day after hearing the familiar refrain of words, my Mother asked Mary Rose: “Don't you want me to be happy?” Mary Rose tossed her pretty little head and her golden curls swirled and she said matter-of-fact: “No! I don't care if you are happy!”

 

To my mind this illustrates a truth that I believe is profound. It is impossible to please self. Some try their whole life to find happiness in pleasing self and never do or can. Of Jesus it is written in Scripture:

 

Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

 

And the formula for pleasures forevermore that Jesus gives is this triad of points:

 

a) deny self

b) take up the cross

c) follow Jesus

 

So how do I deny self?

 

It is the decision of the will or a choice we can exercise as to whether we keep and cherish and eventually do (when opportunity presents) what we think or what comes into our minds to do or that would be nice to do.

 

At this point we need two definitions – sin and self.

 

Sin is defined in Scripture:

 

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

 

What law is the transgression of, sin? This is talking about God's 10 commandment law that is recorded in Exodus 20 and other places in Scripture. God's law is a description of reality. This is how things work: If you love me supremely, you will not steal, lie, kill or even covet what is not yours!

 

Self is more difficult to define because it is within us and is deceptive beyond our comprehension.

 

On the point of deceptive power, these words describe it best:

 

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?

 

Self could be defined as a law that says: “I will always want my own way and desires.”

 

There is only one problem with this insatiable drive to get and do our own thing:

 

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death. This is repeated in Proverbs 16:25.

 

This is what Paul is telling us:

 

Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

 

It is because of self's unlimited ability to deceive and persist in wanting its' own way that there is only one answer to combating and denying self – that is to give it to Jesus on the cross for Him to take to death with Him.

 

Now we need to understand that the cross was not an instrument of death – even though all that were put on the cross died eventually. The cross was a Roman instrument of torture. Jesus did not die because He was put on the cross, even though He died on the cross. Jesus died of a broken heart from separation from His Father caused by taking on Himself the sins of the world including your sins and my sins.

 

So what does the cross not being an instrument of death but an instrument of torture have to do with the first point of Jesus' advice for having happiness is to deny self?

 

It could be explained this way:

 

In my heart and in your heart (not literally but in the desire centers of our mind) are a crown and a scepter and a cross. The crown symbolizes our power of choice. The scepter symbolizes our granting the desire – whatever it is. It has to be granted by the will before it can be carried out. If it is a habit – we do not have to consciously make a decision. The scepter is extended to it when the desire is presented and a “yes” decision comes automatically. That is what Paul was calling a “law”. We could call it a habit of saying “yes” to certain desires we commonly have. The cross in my heart symbolizes a “no” answer to the desire. Now this is the “punch line”. Who is wearing the crown determines what the answer is to desire that determines what we do. It works this way. I can retain control of my life and wear the crown on my head and keep the scepter in my hand, or I can give the crown to someone else to wear – like a parent or girl-friend or Christ or the devil. To make no decision is the default decision of wearing the crown myself. This is a little bigger picture of self. Self is wearing the crown and holding the scepter.

 

What is the alternative?

 

Jesus wants to live in your heart (the emotional centers of your brain through the Holy Spirit, which is His Representative on earth) and wear the crown making the decisions for you to ratify or veto with the scepter that always stays in your hand. Letting King Jesus wear the crown never takes the final decision power from you. You always retain the scepter power to say “yes” or “no”. Jesus never takes control of your life against your will. This is one of the big differences between Christ and Satan. This is what it means to deny self. With Jesus wearing the crown of life in my heart, it is possible to let Him make the decision that I have to accept or reject. It is this accepting and rejecting function that we find so hard because it goes against our desires. If we have lived all of our lives with doing what we want to do without learning any restraint, that has become a habit that is very difficult to break! But by God's power and by yielding our wills to the will of Jesus – the habitual doing our own thing can be broken.

 

A key phrase to learn and practice is:

 

Jesus, I choose to trust you.

 

There is much more that could be said concerning this pathway to pleasures forevermore. However more theory will never take the place of practice and experience.

 

The invitation at this point is found in Scripture:

 

Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD [is] good: blessed [is] the man [that] trusteth in him.

 

So what is the one obstacle to Victory? Disbelief that God is able to do all He says He can and failure to put God to the test. “O taste and see!” Say out loud: “Jesus, I choose to trust you.”

 

Final word – Motivation

 

This is most important – and that is why it is last. Everything presented above is vital and important. There is one thing more important and more vital. Why do you want Victory? Well, so I can be victorious! That is well and good. However we can do all of the right things for the wrong reasons – and in the end will fail! The worst thing if we fail is that God will be so disappointed! He will miss us forever!

 

The motivation for victory in my life has good reasons and the best reason. The best reason we cannot understand in the beginning. So when you have experienced victory in life – then you are ready to understand the best reason. The best reason for victory in life is to satisfy God; to give God pleasure and glory. If I want victory for myself – God does too, so that is OK. However unless self is constantly denied and if self is still the motive for victory – you will fail in the end. Self must be constantly denied and love for and of Jesus take its place – or we will do the bidding of Satan in the end! Self is simply Satan in disguise! Our motivation, to be long-term successful, must be love to and for Jesus. For His sake, not to disappoint Him, is the best and only lasting motive to succeed - to His honor and glory and pleasure. This is the true motivation that will never die or fail or run out of steam when the going gets tough.

 

The apostle Paul said it this way:

 

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

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5:15 And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more.

5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

5:18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 

To God be the glory!

 
The BIBLE is the book of “Basic Instructions Before Living Eternally”.