Thursday, January 19, 2006

Power to Change

Pride, pride, pride.

Seems like every time I turn around--there it is again. More and more I find that anytime I'm dealing with sin or conflict, anytime I'm struggling with anxiety or out of whack emotions, if I dig deep enough, pride is at the root in one form or another. Guess I'm not alone (though that's small comfort): pride formed the core of the first sin.

Nasty thing, that pride. Ugly thing.

Though I'm dismayed and horrified when the pride in my heart rears its ugly head again, I'm thankful that God is gracious enough to expose it so it can be rooted out. So I repent. I ask Him to cleanse my heart. Remove the pride. Cut it out. Burn it out. Erase it from my heart. Teach me to walk in humility.

New sin (or same old one) pops up. Cycle begins again, like the directions on shampoo: Rinse and repeat.

Discouragement. Defeat. "When will I ever be rid of pride? I hate it! I so desperately want to walk humbly before God." Hopelessness.

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know...his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come" (Ephesians 1:18,19-21, all emphases added).

Wait, what was that? The power that God used to raise Christ from the dead is the same power that's at work in me!

So when, in discouragement and defeat, I say to myself, "I'll never be rid of this ugly pride," what am I saying? Do I really believe that God's power is strong enough to raise the dead and produce salvation for fallen humans...but impotent when it comes to overcoming my sin and making me like Jesus?

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3).

What's stopping me from believing, like Abraham, that God keeps His promises?

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised" (Romans 4:20-21).

The fulfillment of the promise is so certain, due to God's power, that it's written in the past tense:

"For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. ...You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" (Romans 6:14,18).

Do I think that my inability to overcome pride in my own strength--my complete lack of willpower or faithfulness to walk consistently in humility simply by obeying rules--means there's no hope I'll ever conquer the ugly sin in my heart?

"...through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do...God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. ...And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you" (Romans 8:2-3,11).

But how? If all this is true, why am I still struggling with pride?

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me" (Colossians 1:29, emphasis mine).

The paradox: I'm weak/He's strong. I labor/with His energy. I struggle/He works in me.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his POWER that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:16-21, emphasis mine).

Seeking to take God at His Word...

"You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:35).

No comments: