Many of us have struggled for years trying to overcome things – sins or habits in our lives – even things connected to our core identity, but Jesus said, “I have overcome the world”, and “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. That overcoming is complete and absolute. Nothing else is required. Those things that seem, quite literally, impossible to overcome, are the very things that God wants to heal by his transforming presence. Even parts of the church do not get this, and so people get loaded down with guilt, or self-help suggestions, or rejection, or condemnation.
When we are at the point where we know we can’t change ourselves, and our next thought is, “if God doesn’t do something, I might as well die”, we will find that the only one who is not condemning us is our loving Heavenly Father. He’ll look at us with a smile and say, “It’s ok. I’ve known who you are since before I created you. I know your struggles and fears, and I will never leave you or forsake you. I will never stop loving you and all I have is yours. Draw near to me. You don’t need to clean yourself up. You just need to run into my arms and know the love I have for you.”
This, actually, is true repentance. We turn from looking at all those things that are sins, failures or snares, and we turn to our heavenly Daddy … and run into His loving embrace. When we do that and lose ourselves in Him, we’ll find that all the stuff we were worried about has dropped off. Then, all we can see will be Him, and all those problems will be beyond our vision. When we fly that high, nothing will be able to stick to us.
Putting this another way, overcoming the flesh and the devil is about acknowledging we cannot change ourselves at all, and realizing that God completely loves us anyway. When we see that he doesn’t condemn us for what we do or who we are, we are free to run into his arms and receive his amazing love, knowing that he fully accepts and loves us.
This isn’t cheap grace or a license to sin, it is recognition that when Jesus said, “It is finished”, He meant that it really was finished. Sin has been atoned for by the blood of Jesus. It is complete and cannot be added to. To think that God is disappointed with us, or worse – has turned his back towards us, means that we have failed to recognize that from His perspective, He sees us all at once – past, present and future. If you have heard His voice saying, “I love you”, then it is not time dependent. His love will never change. If we fail to recognize this, then we will always be trying to do something to fix ourselves … and it will never be enough.
He does call each of us to repent – or to turn around. I believe this means that as we turn to Him and draw deeper into His embrace, we’ll find that those things we could never overcome have been drowned in His ocean of love. Our vision will be completely saturated with his presence and the struggles will be like a forgotten memory.
Next time … a picture of how God heals the wounds to our souls.