Knowing who we are in Christ and resting in our true identity in Him, we know that we need not fear any failure or defeat. Our ultimate victory (success) is assured and our ultimate worth (security) has been unalterably established and declared by God Himself. Thus we can boldly move out into life, following wherever our Lord leads. Convinced of God’s love for us and thus desiring to be like Him and obey His commands out of our reflected love for Him, we will know inwardly what it is the Spirit is asking us to address so that our behavior comes more and more in line with the truth of our perfection in Him.
As we begin to do so, we will very quickly encounter great opposition! Both from within (our habit of making sinful choices) and without (the attacks and temptations of the enemy), there is terrific resistance against our making forward progress in the journey of faith and discipleship. Daily battle must be waged if we are to make any progress at all. Following Jesus never just happens by accident!
In these daily skirmishes, just as in any battle, there are strategies that will help ensure victory. Just as we will lose the battle if we do not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who is the source of our life and strength, we will also fail every time if we try to change our sinful behavior without first addressing the lies we have believed that lead to our choosing what is wrong instead of what is right.
In chapter 7 of More Than a Sunday Faith, Suitt uses the analogy of uprooting a tree. If we wish to be done with an old dead tree that produces no fruit and replace it with a new live one that does, we won’t get very far if we do not first uproot the old tree. Simply hacking away at its branches will not do us any good. The only way to remove the old tree is to pull it out by the roots.
Similarly, to remove from our lives the sinful behaviors that the Spirit has identified for us to target, we must get at their roots in order to be effective. The root of our behavior lies in our thoughts and beliefs. Wrong action is simply the natural, expected result of wrong thinking. If we keep our eyes on Jesus and embrace His words (Truth) in our minds, we will walk on water (i.e., do what we could never do in our own strength or understanding); if we keep our eyes on ourselves and our problems and embrace the lies we tell ourselves and are told by the fallen world around us, we will sink!
This is crucial! This is where so many have turned away, saying, “I tried Christianity and it didn’t work”. They were trying to change behavior without first changing their thinking! The NLT version of Romans 12:2 says it well: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” We will be transformed, behavior and all, if we will let Him first change our minds.
I am passionate about this because it took me far too long to understand this in my own life, and now I want to do everything I can to help others discover this simple yet profound truth more quickly than I did. I have spent years beating my head against the unmoving brick wall of my own sinful choices, unable to make a dent. I knew the promises of Scripture for an abundant, victorious life, but my experience did not match up with this at all. The problem all along was that I never allowed the Lord to change my thinking about who I was in Him. I clung to my identity apart from Him as more central than my identity in Him. I did not rightly acknowledge that in Him I was a new creation and that the old life was no more (2 Corinthians 5:17) — I “knew” it, but I never lived or made choices as if I actually believed it, and so I actually did not know it in any way that mattered. The day when I awoke to the reality of my identity in God’s eyes, how different it was from my own view of myself, and that His view and not mine was the true one; well, that was the day when everything changed. My most fervent and heartfelt prayer is that everyone I know would know Him and His great love for them just as I do now!
I love this scene from Hero. Two accomplished warriors face one another. Before either makes a single move, they play out the battle in their minds. They then engage in a brief (actual) conflict, and our hero, thus prepared, is victorious in reality.
While this battle is fictitious, the principle we can learn from it is true indeed! If we will take the time to meditate on the truth found in God’s Word, if we will invest our hours and our lives in communion with Jesus and His Holy Spirit, we will find growing within ourselves the ability to expose lies and replace them with God’s truth in a way that is real and effective in our daily struggles. Knowing in our minds the truth of our victory in Christ, we will find ourselves victorious in daily life.
So now we’re all SET:
- Secure because I’m God’s child (1 John 3:1-3),
- Entertaining the Truth (John 8:32), and
- Transformed in our behavior by changing our thinking (Romans 12:2).
And now that the foundation has been set, we are ready to build on it: to start thinking biblically and processing life on a daily basis with a biblically based worldview, to enter into FREEdom. More on that soon…