11. Continued to seek through prayer and consecration to improve our conscious connection with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
As we learned through all the previous steps of this process, our healing comes through healing our relationships. And so it should not surprise us that our continued success will be dependent upon causing these healed relationships to flourish even more.
It is only through our constant relationship with Jesus Christ that we can continue to have the grace and integrity to continue in this new “straight and narrow way”. And it takes real effort to stay on this way.
So we must maintain an open and willing ear, to hear what the Holy Spirit speaks to our heart. Because he knows us better than we know ourselves. So we rely on him to search our own hearts, and to continue to help us with any spiritual or emotional need we have.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” ~ Psalm 139:23-24
One of the ways that God “searches us” is through the things he allows to come against us, to humble us. Do we fight like we used to? Or do we now humble ourselves in prayer, to seek the help that the Lord can only give?
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” ~ James 4:6-8
Our Old Self-Willed Person Must Die
When we really begin to address our shortcomings, we then find something working within us that is bigger than us. The fleshly man is not able to continue in this new walk simply by a set of new rules and determinations. We are truly humbled when we begin to comprehend the magnitude of the habits we have formed in our lives, and our weaknesses against them.
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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.” ~ Romans 7:21-25
So what is the solution when our old fleshly person is too big and difficult?
We must completely humble ourselves to submit, in a very personal way to the Holy Spirit of God! He is our only hope and comforter for this situation. And yet, because of the price that Jesus Christ paid for us on the cross, we can have this hope! We can overcome the fleshly man, by crucifying self, to now walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” ~ Romans 8:1-10
Dead men don’t sin, nor do they get addicted.
So our old man (our old way of living and making decisions for ourselves) must die! And now we are to be resurrected to a new life in Christ Jesus.
(Note: Even the practice of baptism teaches us this spiritual reality that is necessary in our lives. Baptism symbolically shows us: by the complete burial in the water, which represents our old man, dying and being buried. And then again we are brought back up out of the water, reflecting the resurrection of the new life of Jesus Christ in us. This all even teaches us how we are now become a new resurrected creature in Christ Jesus.)
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” ~ Romans 6:1-4
We Now Have A New Resurrected Life – By the Holy Spirit Within
But to continue in the new resurrected life, we need a new spirit. We cannot do this living by the old fleshly person we have been. Our will, and our ways, need to die. And then we must ask for the Spirit of God to fill us, so that now we are living intimately close in our relationship with God.
In a spiritual sense, we are now to live much like it was when Adam and Eve were first created in the garden. Their soul was alive because they had the Spirit of God within them. There was no sin that divided them from God when they were first created. But it was when they sinned that they became separated from God. That was the first broken relationship that caused sin and addiction to enter the world. Mankind had to figure out how to satisfy the flesh without the Holy Spirit. And this led to many sinful addictions.
So let us not kid ourselves. To keep on the way, and keep our relationship with God true and faithful, it will take real sacrifice. And the principal part of what needs to be sacrificed: is us!
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” ~ Romans 12:1-3
The sacrifice needs to be kept “a living sacrifice, holy…” to be accepted by God. And this is reasonable, because it works! And it has never failed to work. But people fail when they don’t keep at it. They start thinking that “I’m getting pretty strong. I can handle this myself now. I don’t need to work on it so hard.” But we need to stay humble to stay on the “straight and narrow.”
We Don’t Ever Have to Relapse Again
It is totally possible for anyone to stay on the straight and narrow – who is willing…
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:37-39
Satan will still try to “trip us up” and put us down. He will often use people to do this, to try to make us feel ashamed. But we need to keep looking up to Jesus, who is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He is well able to help us.
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:12
Jesus, the Son of God, came down to earth so he could experience the temptations and difficulties we feel in this life. He became like us, so he could totally relate to our need, and help us. He really does understand perfectly what we need.
“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” ~ Hebrews 2:17-18
Yes, he can keep us from ever relapsing again!
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” ~ Jude 1:24-25
We need to be careful to maintain a loving relationship with our savior. And this takes a fully consecrated heart and life to God. We do this with our whole heart, from the free will we have. We show that we fully love our Lord by this free-will, all-love, full consecration.
But any true love relationship takes regular effort. Otherwise we will begin to take the one we love for granted, including our Lord. And it won’t necessarily be that we will first want to go back to our sin addiction. But rather, because we are enjoying freedom from that addiction, we can become very busy about many different things. So busy about these different legitimate things that we neglect our relationship with God.
This is another type of heart ground that was described by Jesus in the parable of the sower and the seed. Do you remember the ones already described? Let’s read about the third type of ground, and take heed to the lesson.
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” ~ Matthew 13:22
If Satan is not able to get us to go back to our addiction, then he’ll simply work with what he can do. And that will be to kill the fruit of the Spirit in us! And he’ll do that through the cares of this life, and the deceitfulness of riches, to get us focused again on doing what we want, without including God.
“The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.” ~ Proverbs 14:14
So now, if we have the right Spirit, (not our own spirit, but the Holy Spirit), we can then overcome all our shortcomings. And with the right Spirit, we will be able to immediately pray when we need help or comfort. And we will be able to also do this with an attitude of thanksgiving!
“Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
We can now do all things through Christ Jesus who has made us a completely new person!
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
So in the final Step number 12, which is next, we will learn about a new ministry that God has given every one of us. The “ministry of reconciliation” that we are able to share with everyone, through our service and our gratitude.