The truth is: I failed.
Not once, not twice, but several times. I have been fighting with my flesh, attempting to serve both God and my human desire to put myself first. To focus on myself. And to sin when things don’t go my way. Sound familiar?
But the truth is also this: One cannot be of the world–doing the things the world does, and thinking as the world does–and call herself a friend of God. I cannot serve two masters.
Earlier this week, after continually realizing my selfish behavior and wrong motives, I decided I’d had enough. I wanted to be done. I knew my selfishness and putting myself first needed to end, but I didn’t know how to do it. It was causing me to be moody, it was putting friction between my family and me, and it was making me absolutely miserable.
“How can I fight this? How can I stop repeating the same old mistakes?”
These were my thoughts, and suddenly it was as if a lightbulb went off in my head. But it wasn’t a lightbulb, it was the Holy Spirit. Out of His love for me, God drew me toward James, the book of the bible I have been struggling to finish memorizing for the past year. So I began to review, and as I got to James 4, I began to understand just how wrong my sin had been.
I cannot call my self a follower of Christ and let my flesh rule my actions, words and attitudes.
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?” James 4:4-5
The reality is this: I have a choice to make. I can either continue to focus on myself and eventually walk away from my relationship with God, or I can accept God’s grace, repent of my sin, and ask Him to give me strength to walk in the opposite direction. Because I cannot do it alone.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:6-10
James makes it clear that our sins should absolutely grieve us. But because of what Christ did on the Cross, we don’t have to fear condemnation [Romans 8:1]. We have a way out–we have to humble ourselves before the Lord and die to our flesh. For me, that meant getting on my knees. It took pain, humility and even tears. Instead of letting my frustration build up and walking around with an ugly heart, I needed to let it all go and give it all up. I needed to admit it verbally, and to ask God for help.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
He will continue to sanctify you as long as you seek Him. It is a lifelong process, and at times it can be grueling. But as followers of Christ, we must persevere and endure. Whatever sin you’re struggling with today, give it up to God. He knows your heart and He knows how to help you and He WILL pick you back up.