I used to watch the show ‘24’ on television. It was full of suspense and non-stop action. Each week I would make sure I was at home to see the show. I watched it for about three years and then one day I just stopped. I lost interest. Oh, the show was still suspenseful, and the main character, Jack, was always in things way over his head. The action was constant and if it was not for the commercials you would not be able to catch your breath. However, one thing was wrong; the show was too predictable. Each episode had to end with the bad guy getting away. If he did not then a new bad guy was introduced. The end was always a cliff hanger leaving you wondering what would happen next. I thought, “Why watch it?” For me it became a boring waste of time. I was saddened that it turned out that way because I really liked the show. But I began to feel like I had nothing to look forward to.
Hulu, Netflix, videos and dvds have the same effect. Some of us remember waiting each year to watch the Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan on television. The Wonderful World of Disney came on each Sunday night showing a different show each week. Still it might be a year or more before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was shown. We just did not see it over and over until we knew it by heart. We seem to live in a world of the same plot, the same show, the same event being played over and over again. It can really get old quickly.
I feel that way about my sin nature. Though the Bible does not speak specifically about each person having a sin nature, there are references to the principle. Paul refers to living in the flesh and being carnal [1 Corinthians 3:1-4]. He states that even as a Christian he battles with the old nature in order to do what is right [Romans 7:14-21]. I know that I am saved by the finished work of Jesus Christ [Hebrews 10:19-22]. It is only by His shed blood which covers my sin that I am forgiven and pardoned from the penalty for my sins [Hebrews 9:22]. All I must do is to believe, through my personal faith, that Jesus is the one sent from God to save mankind, that He died, was buried, and rose again according to the scriptures [Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. I repent, turning from my sinful ways and turning toward God, to live a life controlled by the Holy Spirit of God [Acts 20:21]. I humbly submit to the Holy Spirit and obey His leading in my life [James 4:7-10]. Yet, each day is full of choices and my decisions can grieve [Ephesians 4:30] the Spirit and even quench [1 Thessalonians 5:19] His work in my life or in the lives of others. Through faith the war for my soul has been won by Jesus the Messiah, but each day there are battles of righteousness to be fought. I tire of the same battles being fought over and over again. At some point each day I am tempted to sin [James 1:14]. Daily, at some point, I fail God. I grow weary in the battle with my old nature. Sometimes I am tired and just want Jesus to come back and take me home. Each day brings with it the possibility of my ‘backsliding’.
Backsliding is a Biblical term and refers to someone going back on God [Jeremiah 8:5, Hosea 11:7]. We do not “go back” in the area of salvation. Our salvation is not in our hands. It is a finished work of Jesus. It means to “go back” in the area of daily living. It means the choices I make for that day are not according to God’s will but my own will. It is not walking according to the Holy Spirit’s direction; it is walking in my own desires. It is not living by faith in God; it is living by my own wit and reason. I can slip back into my old ways. The difference as a Christian is that my Heavenly Father will seek to reprove and correct me as one of His children [Hebrews 12:7-11]. He will not allow me to continue to live in disobedience to Him. He loves me and wants the best for me. That is why correction comes.
I need to develop a habit in my daily life which will help to bring my old nature under control. I must have a consistent daily devotional time. I need a time and place to spend with Jesus [Psalm 3:5, Mark 1:35]. It’s a quiet time alone with Jesus [Psalm 46:10, Matthew 14:23]. It’s a time where it’s just Him and me, with no interruptions. It’s a time where things in my life slow down so I can focus on Him [Psalm 46:10, Ecclesiastes 4:6] and listen to Him speak to my heart [Hosea 4:1, James 1:22-25]. It’s a time for me to plug into His power [Romans 1:16, James 5:16]. The power of His word, the Bible, and of prayer is needed in my daily life. It’s a time for evaluating my life [Luke 14:28-32, 2 Corinthians 13:5]. It’s a time to ask myself tough questions about my Christian walk. I need to ask such questions as: Am I living by faith, living according to the Holy Spirit’s direction? It’s a time of praise and enjoyment in the presence of the Lord Jesus to just enjoy Him for who He is, not selfishly focusing on what He does for me [1 Timothy 6:17, Nehemiah 8:10].
We all need this daily time. If we allow it to become hit or miss, or allow it to be constantly interrupted, then our life in the Spirit is like a flickering light bulb. The bulb looses its usefulness. We lose our usefulness in God’s work and we don’t experience the favor of our Heavenly Father. Not only do we loose our usefulness to our Lord Jesus [2 Peter 1:8], but also to our families and friends. We become tired of the battle and begin to say, “What’s the use?” We give up and, above all, are people to be pitted. Let us not underestimate the power of our enemy [1 Peter 5:8]. He cannot touch our salvation [John 10:28-29, Romans 8:38-39], but he can steal away our testimony for Jesus. Let us stand firm and act like spiritual people standing strong in the might of the Lord [1 Corinthians 16:13]!
If I am to be all I can be for God, I MUST devote myself to a life of walking with Him as Enoch [Genesis 5:22] and others in the Bible did. I MUST devote myself to a consistent daily time with Jesus. I need to stop and enjoy His presence!
Hugh Folds, Minister of Education and Youth SPBC