By the time I leave for Christmas break, I will have been serving full-time with TWR MOTION for six months! In some ways that time has gone by slowly, but looking back it has flown by! I have seen countless examples of God at work in my team, through the church, and in my own heart. He is abundantly faithful and I am excited to share a snippet of His grace with you in this post.
I wanted to talk a little bit about my Biblical Counseling coursework so far, because it has played a huge part in my spiritual growth and pursuit of Christ. One of the main pillars of a truly biblical counseling effort is addressing the issue of man’s heart. The Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitfully wicked and unable to be trusted (Jeremiah 17:9). Scripture also makes it clear to us in Romans 3:10-18 that there is no one who is righteous and seeks for God from their own heart. In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God makes a promise to His people that one day He will make a way for them to have new hearts; and even better, God will put His own Spirit within them! What an amazing thought! The Spirit of Almighty God could come and dwell within the heart of wicked man? As crazy as it may sound, it is true! God was faithful to His promise and in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we see this transformation take human form. Christ lived a perfect life as a perfect representative of mankind and a perfect representative of God, having 100% both natures. He died the death that men and women deserved for their sin, rose from the grave by His own power, and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the throne of God the Father! Before He left earth, He promised His disciples that the Spirit of God would come upon them and give them power to proclaim the gospel throughout the world (Acts 1:8) and on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came! Since then, the Spirit of God enters into the heart of every single human being who acknowledges their depravity, repents of their sinful state, humbly seeks forgiveness from God, and turns away from their wicked ways to pursue righteousness. What a glorious truth!
Okay, so the Holy Spirit is dwelling within born-again believers…what does that have to do with the issue of man’s heart? EVERYTHING. Let’s now go to one of my new favorite passages of Scripture, Romans 6. You’ll remember that the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is all about man’s depraved life and works apart from God, God’s work of new life in redeeming man, and the way God works through the lives of His people. Chapter 6 opens with this question in verse 1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” Grace is the free gift of God to man that releases us from bondage to sin and Satan and frees us to live our lives in pursuit of God. Paul is asking his readers: if we are free from sin, does that mean we are free to do whatever we want? He answers his own question in verse 2, “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Paul uses the rest of the chapter, and really the rest of the book, to help us fully grasp this concept. Verses 5-11 talk more about how our union with Christ means not only new life, but death to the old self. He brings the whole argument to a head in verse 11, the title of this blog post: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Did you catch that? DEAD to sin. ALIVE to Christ. How can someone who has died and been given a whole new life be able to go back and live as they did before they died? The answer is, they can’t! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? We can’t! By God’s abundant mercy and grace, we have been given new hearts and a new Spirit within us, that is Christ Jesus Himself. With a new nature we have new desires and a new power that enables us to live for God and not for our flesh. Yes, we still live in a fallen world and suffer from the effects of sin. YES WE STILL SIN. Our body of flesh is not fully done away with until our consummate reunion with Christ. But, with the Spirit of God within us (as detailed in Romans 8) we are able to live in a way that honors God. WOAH.
I’m sure a great deal of you are already familiar with this concept and so are not as mind-boggled as I am. Granted, I grew up hearing this over and over again in church, youth group, and even from friends and family, so this was not an entirely new concept to learn. However, I don’t think I ever fully grasped or realized the practicality of this truth until the past few months. God promises POWER from the Holy Spirit. Not crazy pick up a mountain and move it aside kind of power. But a greater power, a POWER to live like Christ. POWER to proclaim the gospel. POWER to serve God through faithfulness. POWER to understand the Word of God and apply it to our lives. POWER to say “no” to sin and “yes” to holiness! When Romans 6:11 says we are dead to sin and alive to Christ, that means I have the power through the Holy Spirit to kill my sin and live for God. Before Christ, before the Holy Spirit entered my heart when I confessed my sin, repented, and turned to Christ, I was unable to not sin. Every time I sinned, I couldn’t help it because that was my nature; it’s who I was. Now, that the Holy Spirit dwells within my heart, now that I have been given a new heart and a new nature, I have the ability not to sin. Every time I sin now, it is a choice. SO, this power of the Holy Spirit is wonderful news because the book of Hebrews reminds us that there is no temptation that can overtake a believer. James encourages us that temptation comes from within our own sinful desires, not from our regenerate Spirit. As a truly born-again believer I have the power, through the very Spirit of God, to die to my sin and live to Christ. Biblical Counseling is all about helping my own heart grasp this truth so that I can help those around me understand the power of Christ to say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness. God has given us His Spirit, His own Word, and believers around us to direct our hearts to Him and His ways while we strive for holiness and starve our flesh.
I have only begun to grasp the full extent of this reality. True change in a person’s life can only come from a true change in a person’s heart. That heart change comes from the working of the Holy Spirit and the faithful diligence of the person to put off their sin and put on Christlikeness. I am so thankful that God has given me this season to pursue deeper and greater understandings of truths like this. The past 6 months in North Carolina have been full of God’s grace, conviction, and blessing as He continues to show me more and more of what it means that He has made me dead to my sin and alive to Him in Christ! Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name.
***For more updates on my work with TWR MOTION, how God has been using my time in North Carolina, and how you can be praying in the coming weeks, please watch my vlog that can be found at this link: VLOG EIGHT
always for the Master,