I gave my life to Christ on June 29th 2017. It wasn’t the first time I had dedicated my life to Christ, but it was the first time that something actually changed within me. It was the first time it didn’t feel like it was my decision, but something that God did for me.
So, naturally, within the first few days of this newfound longing for God all was well with me. Suddenly, sin was not a part of my daily life and I felt untouchable, but as any Christian knows, as time went on the battle against sin came slowly but surely. I began to fall into the same sins I thought I had overcome. All I could think was, ‘but I’m saved! How can I still be doing the same things when I’m not the same?’
Can you relate? Before I say anything else, one thing must be made clear. Committing a sin does not mean, and can never mean, that you do not love God. As humans it’s in our genetic makeup that we will fail sometimes, but as Christians, we are supposed to take assurance in the truth that God will always be there to lift us up –
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)
Our Christian journey is a constant battle between our flesh and our spirit. Whichever is stronger is the one which will prevail over the other. Consider the human body. When you exercise and eat right, you maintain good health and vitality. Conversely, a lifestyle of junk food and being sedentary will have harmful and potentially fatal effects. When we parallel this with how God has designed us to feed our spirit in comparison to our flesh, we experience the same results in the spiritual realm where gratifying our flesh results in our spirit being too weak and inadequately built to resist temptation i.e. spiritual decline. To avoid this, we must allow our hearts and minds to be ruled by God:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8 (NIV)
Feeding our flesh means concerning yourself with things of the world rather than with things of God. This can include things like gossip or sexual immorality, and when we involve ourselves in these things we only stand to maintain drawing further away from God. We need to fill our hearts with things that glorify Him so that everything we think or do is a reflection of Him;
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Now, it’s all well and good to say that this is what we need to do, but I believe it’s important to have practical steps which you can apply to your lives.
Here are 3 steps to feed your spirit:
Ask God to help you overcome your sin. With most sin it is not a case of praying once, but consistently and unrelentingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Many of us are plagued with the misconception that sin makes us too dirty to face God. In reality, these are the times we need to talk to Him the most.
“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” Psalm 18:6 (NIV)
Cry to God! He hears you, and will always help you.
Find verses which are specific to the sin you are struggling with. Collect these verses and meditate on them when you feel overcome by sinful thoughts or feelings. Prayer is effective when we pray in the word and God’s word is the strongest weapon against Satan.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
Struggling with sin often makes us feel helpless and lost, but it is the word of God which should be used to direct us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17; “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Also, build your knowledge of what God has done through reading scripture, learn about His power to diminish your doubt.
Have people around you who you trust to help keep you from going down that wrong path. Yes, God is our main helper but He also sent people into our lives for a reason. Ultimately, we need people around us who will push us towards God.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
Fellowship with like-minded Christians is one of God’s many gifts. Surround yourself with people who are actively seeking God. Also, being accountable for a friend will be beneficial to your own walk because you could be helping each other with the struggle to overcome the same sin. Be there for each other. God has called us to care for one another as ourselves (Mark 12:31).
No one said this would be easy, but a life lived with the Lord is worth more than anything the world could offer. Do not be deceived by the thought that overcoming sin is impossible. Have faith in the God you serve, remember all the amazing things He has done for you and be reminded that He can do it again and again. Rather than feeling down about your struggle, find joy in the fact that God loves you and will always help you.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (NIV)