Over the past few months, I’ve received many emails from people asking me how I’ve stayed on track with living a balanced lifestyle longterm, while not falling back into old unhealthy patterns. I’ve found that it’s pretty easy for people make the initial decision to change, but often times they have a very difficult time ‘staying on track’, which leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and failure.
I’ve come to realize that the question that everyone is truly asking is, how do I “get free” and “stay free?“ … (Really this can apply to any area of our lives where we are struggling to find freedom).
First of all, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, then Christ lives in you, which means that He has set you free from all forms of bondage and slavery to sin. In fact, in Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
However, it goes without saying that even though Christ lives in us, we will still experience trials because we live in a fallen world! So the question is, how do we possess the freedom that Christ provided for us while we live in this world?
First let me start by saying that I wish I could say I have all the answers and never struggle with anything myself anymore…But in fact, there are times, especially when I get tired, stressed, or overwhelmed that I find that I’m much more likely to be tempted to fall back into my old way of thinking and doing things.
So, although I do know that being tempted is a reality of living on this earth, the bible does promise us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Therefore, we know that we can be the over-comers that God called us to be in the midst of temptations and trials, and here’s how…
First of all, we need to look at what is happening on a daily basis when we find ourselves giving into tempation. Although it’s likely that we want to solve our problems as a whole, and therefore we want an answer that will fix or change us once and for all, we need to recognize when we are at our weakest in order to overcome sin when we are faced with it.
The place we need to start is to recognize satans schemes. Satan is constantly working over-time to get us out of the fruits of the spirit which are peace, joy, love, gentleness, and self control, in order to get us into feelings of fear, doubt, stress, anxiety, etc. When he succeeds in getting us out of the leadership of the spirit, we start to get into our fleshly nature, which allows us to get over into temptation and sin.
The good news is, with the Holy Spirit as our counselor, we don’t have to be subject to our flesh any longer. The first step to being over-comers is to ask the Holy Spirit to remind us when we are getting out of the fruits of the Spirit. When we recognize that we are doing so, we have to stop and ask ourselves why we are getting out of love, joy peace, etc.
Is it something that we have control over and are able to change? If so, we should stop and make the choice to not let ourselves be ruled by our flesh. (Thats what Galatians 5:1 means when it says ‘stand firm’….We have to make the choice to walk by the spirit and not get over into the negative emotions of our flesh!)
On the other hand, if it’s something outside of our control, we still have to make the choice to stay in peace, joy, love, etc. regardless of our circumstances, because ultimately, it’s The Spirit of God who will guide us out of our current situation into a place of freedom! So we must choose to walk with Him even in the midst of our trials, so He can lead us!
As you can see, we have the choice every day whether we will choose to walk by the Spirit, or to let ourselves be controlled by our emotions and ruled by our flesh. When we start to let our minds get into fear, worry, doubt, etc. and get out of God’s love, joy, peace, gentleness, and self control, we are making the choice to get out from the leadership of the Holy Spirit, which makes it difficult to resist temptation, (because lets face it, we can’t do much using our own strength!)
I am in no way perfect myself, but I know the One who is perfect, and He is building me day by day. When I find that I am getting into worry, doubt, fear, stress, etc. I ask the Lord to help me stand firm in His peace, joy, love, etc. I make the choice to reign in my emotions, and cast my cares over on the Lord. It’s truly amazing, because by doing so, I find that things that used to tempt me no longer even affect me. That’s how He changes us, one day at a time, from glory to glory! :)
All this being said, don’t allow yourself to get into condemnation if you do fall…For there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus! After all, we are ALREADY RIGHTEOUS regardless of our actions because of what Jesus has done for us…It is Him who has made us right with God!!!
Simply get back up and ask the Lord to help you do better next time, and realize that each day His mercies are new! Start to see yourself as a victor and over-comer, because In Christ you ARE, and you can do ALL things through Christ who lives in you!