Growing up in a Christian home, I have always believed that God exists and is the all-powerful ruler of the universe. I realized that Jesus was my Savior, my only hope of salvation. I believed in the Bible as the Holy word of God. I faithfully attended church every week. I even preached a few sermons. In nearly all areas of my life, I lived by good Biblical principles. Yet, I had one cherished sin. I wanted to stop, but I couldn't. I felt like the man of Romans 7. It was an addiction that I practiced for 25 years.
I'd like to share with you how the power of God has worked, and is still working, in my life to break the chains of addiction and give me a freedom that I never realized was possible. The key that set me free from bondage is an understanding of the true force of the will. The proper use of my God-given will power has brought me from the depths of addiction to the joy of freedom in Jesus Christ my Savior!
As a child, I was taught that the way to overcome temptation was to first try harder, then ask God for more strength so that I could try even harder. This worked for some things some of the time. But it didn't work for all temptations all the time. And it hardly ever worked for my cherished sin. My desire was for"goodness and purity", but try as hard as I might, I was still going "down to ruin while hoping and desiring to overcome" my addictive behavior.
After 25 years of failure, I finally came to realize that I was powerless over my thoughts, my impulses, and my affections. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak. I used to think that I could resist temptation with my own will power. But if Jesus said "I can of mine own self do nothing ", then who am I that I should think that I can? In fact, He also said, " without Me, ye can do nothing ". So then, paraphrasing Romans 9:16, I must conclude that victory over sin does not come by my will power, but by God's power -- who has mercy on me. So, what can I do? What is my part in this so that God will use His power to overcome my sin?
I began to discover the divine principle of co-operation. I discovered that I could choose to serve God. The Bible says, " choose you this day whom ye will serve " and "choose life that both thou and thy seed may live". Since I believe that God's biddings are His enablings (Christ Object Lessons, page 333), I must conclude that He has given me the power of choice. So, now I start my day by choosing to follow Jesus. Then, throughout the day, I must continue to choose to serve God by obeying that "still small voice " behind me saying "This is the way, walk ye in it."
Sometimes, God's promptings convict me against my natural inclinations. It goes against my will. When that happens, I must choose to give Him my will because "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father..." When He calls for my will I must choose to say, as did Saul on the road to Damascus, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" "Not as I will, but as thou wilt ... thy will be done ." As I continue to die to self by submitting my will to His, I begin to understand why King David said "I delight to do thy will, O my God..." It's because God doesn't make mistakes. He sees the end from the beginning, when I can't see anything -- even though I may think I can! He has never failed me. He knows what is best for me.
As I turn my will and life over to Him, He works in me "to will and to do of His good pleasure" not as I would do, "but according to His own purpose..." He promises to instruct me and teach me in the way that I should go , and I know that He will never leave me nor forsake me because, He said " I am with you always, even unto the end of the world ."
Jesus promises to give me a new heart and a new spirit as I allow Him to captivate my thoughts. Jesus brings forth good fruit from me as I abide in Him -- even as the branch abides in the vine.
It is my privilege to ally myself with divine power as I yield my will to Christ. My " sufficiency is of God ", and God alone. He promises to strengthen me "with might by His Spirit " that I "might be filled with all the fullness of God" because He is able, and willing to "do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think ." I thank God that by these promises, we may be "partakers of the divine nature ."
The most exciting part of this experience with Christ is that a life of victory over every temptation, every sin, and every addiction is possible for me and for you. The secret is in uniting our weak, faltering will to the all-powerful will of the King of the Universe. Jesus came to save us from our sins. God says that all our temptations are common to all humanity and that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear by His grace and that we "can do all things through Christ", who strengthens us. Jesus even says that He will make us " perfect in every good work to do His will ". Thanks be to God, who gives us the "victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
In summary and conclusion I would like to make several points as clear as possible.
Ellen G. White said it this way: "Everything good in men and women is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit teaches us to reveal righteousness in our lives. The greatest work that can be done in our world is to glorify God by living the character of Christ. God will make perfect only those who will die to self. Those who are willing to do this can say, 'I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me'" (MS 16,1900).
Friend, Jesus is calling for your heart now. Wouldn't you like to have a new heart? Wouldn't you like to have the mind of Christ? Jesus will give you the victory over every sin, every temptation, every addiction, and every regret that you have ever had. It matters not how low you have sunk in the mire of sin. Jesus loves you with an infinte love. He is the answer to all of your troubles and mine. Clasp the hand of Jesus and He will lift you up. He may not speak to you in a loud voice and with a blinding light as He did with Saul of Tarsus. More likely, He is speaking to you now in a still small voice saying, "come to me ... and I will give you rest." "I will also save you from all your uncleannesses ." You can trust Jesus. Just say "Yes Lord, what would you have me to do?"
"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).
This study has been written and compiled by Sid Nash. Your comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome.