Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Inside Man"

There is a movie out right now called “Inside Man”. There are lots of big names and colorful characters in this suspense thriller. The movie keeps you guessing and the plot twists and turns as Denzel Washington tries to thwart a cleverly devised bank hiest. As the title suggests, there is a mysterious inside angle at work that must be solved or the diabolical plot will be successful.
I have seen men throw away marriages because they could not control urges. I have watched children have to move from their apartment because mom “could not help it” and gambled away the rent. I’ve witnessed young singles spoil relationships and lose respect for each other simply because they could not control themselves. I know people who know they will die if they don’t quit smoking but they smoke on anyway. There are people who will starve themselves all day only to go home, binge, purge, and then sit on the bed and cry. There are times when I know I should not spend money I don’t have, but I use my credit card anyway and later regret it. Does anyone connect with this?
Those who do not control themselves are like a city whose walls are broken down. Prov. 25:28

God says our lives become vulnerable and open to destruction when we don’t exercise self-control. Our walls come down and an enemy could easily overtake us and cause us to lose things that are precious to us. The irony is that this is an inside job. Someone once wrote, “We have met the enemy and he is us”. How true this is. If we were all to be honest, we would admit that we can at times be our own worst enemy.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18 I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20 My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21 It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22 I truly delight in God's commands, 23 but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. Rom 7:17-23

Do you know who wrote this? The person who wrote much of the New Testament. Ever have something on the inside of you just “take charge” and you find yourself moving toward a destructive behavior that in your mind you know you don’t want to do? Welcome to Paul’s world (mine too by the way). What is going on and how do I deal with this? Is there hope that my destructive impulses and bad habits can be brought under control? This is what the “Good News” is all about. Paul continues to write:

I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? 25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2 A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. Rom. 7:24-8:2

God’s life is offered to me in Christ. And His life is in me. He is the ultimate “inside man”. He has the power not only to hold back my desructive impulses, but to go far beyond that and give me new, compelling, and beautifully constructive ones. Instead of tearing down my life with my own hands, He gives me a vision to build a truly great life. He takes me beyond self-control to self-discipline. That is when life get’s exciting.

The Holy Spirit is called the counselor, the guide, the helper or teacher who comes along-side us to show us this new life in Christ.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, Titus 2:11-12

If I am to experience the life that God has for me; If I want not just to be married, but to have a great marriage; if I hope to see my children flourish in life; if I want to make a difference in this world, I will have to allow God’s Spirit to produce ever increasing levels of self-control.

The world belongs to the self-disciplined.

Join me over the next several days as we discuss a deep inward transformation that leads to a truly great life!


But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

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