Neosho, MO 64850
There is a place in God where sin does not rule our lives (I Jn. 3:9). On the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (Jn. 19:30). Deathbed statements are always treasured by the family and this certainly is no exception. Christ was given a job to do by His Father, and He did it, entirely, completely, with no exceptions. He said of this job assignment: "He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Lk. 4: 18). Do we believe Him? Looking around us, sometimes we may doubt that the work is done when we see how many are still held captive by their addictions, their human weaknesses, lack of faith, and inability to live overcoming lives.
I read an e-mail newsletter recently written by a young Christian who was writing about the need for grace for those who continually sin. He was talking about sex sin, specifically the addiction to pornography. And while his call for grace for the offender was commendable, nevertheless, it left me feeling powerless and vulnerable, for his only solution seemed to be to show that God still loves us when we sin, though this may not be true of our Christian friends. He pointed out that most people sin repeatedly. That falls into the "misery loves company" category, and doesn't cut it for a child of the King who has "overcome the world" (I Jn. 5:4).
In Romans, Chapter Seven, Paul talks about how he was trapped in the bondage of sin. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians have taken this as their excuse for why they can't do better. They have not only "gone there," but have pitched a tent and set up housekeeping. It would be tragic to get stuck in Romans Seven, when the very first verse of Romans 8, tells us that "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST Jesus" (RSV). So, how do we get from Chapter seven to Chapter eight in actual experience? Ah, therein lies the rub, and it is the reason that the church has failed so miserably to help people with addictions, for the answer is WE don't. We cannot get from sin to triumph on our own steam.
My husband Lenny and I worked a 12 step recovery program for help in dealing with our codependency, an addiction as powerful as alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual aberrations, workaholism or food addiction. That was when I first notice the difference between the average church program of "confess, repent, pray, and try harder," which mostly fail, and the 12-step programs which have brought relief to millions throughout the world. All such programs are similar. Unlike church agendas which often use guilt and self effort to affect a change, the 12-Step Programs begin with the admission that "I am powerless over my addiction." The next step is "I have come to believe in a Higher Power," and the third one is, "I turned my life over to this Higher Power." This is NOT a commercial for 12-Step programs. Nevertheless, Romans 7:5-25, is a perfect example of Step One, as Paul describes his powerlessness in the flesh to stop sinning. I think we can all agree that he had the background, the knowledge, the training, and the zeal to pull it off if anyone could. Yet, he says, "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it" (Vs. 18). Well, that's rough, Paul. If will power is not the answer, then what is? We have already quoted Romans 8:1, but it bears repeating, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus."
The answer to the addiction problem, the sin problem, the guilt problem, the lack of faith problem, and the physical ailment problem, is the surrender of our will, ego and pride to Christ Jesus our Lord. He is fully qualified to handle all our problems, and that's why His last statement from the cross, "It is finished" is so significant. Unfortunately, many church members have focused on the cross itself without realizing what it means for our daily lives. Paul said that the answer to the sin problem is to reckon ourselves DEAD (Rom. 6:11) IN Christ (Rom. 6:4,8). Dead men do not lust, do not covet, do not need sex, drugs, or rock and roll, do not have violence in their hearts for others, and do not feel guilt. Dead men are free from sin and guilt! "Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life" (Rom. 6:22). Hallelujah.
How does it work? Paul explained it simply, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live BY the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20, KJV). When I realize that God does not ask me to control my actions, for I am powerless to do so, but invites me to depend on the indwelling Christ, then I have freedom to be who Paul says I am IN HIM: "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Eph. 1:4). Holy and blameless. Do you hear it? Do you believe it?
I'm not into denial, nor a fool. I know that when we look at our own lives, we may see some things that do not look very holy, but God invites us to be caught up to His throne, to see us the way He see us. When He looks at me, He does not see my sins, my failures, my carnal nature. He sees Jesus the Christ who lives in my heart, and He opens my eyes to see that as well. What you focus on, dear ones, is what you become. If you constantly berate yourself as a miserable sinner, you will act like one. If, instead, you accept God's invitation to believe what His word says, that you are "holy and blameless and irreproachable before Him" (Col. 1:22), your sin consciousness and guilt will gradually fade away. It's what Paul meant when he said, "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2). We prove (test) it by believing it.
Some will protest that they don't have the faith to believe it. Of course not! Dead men do not have faith, just like dead men do not sin, but God has the answer to that problem as well. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it (faith) is THE GIFT OF GOD, not because of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). From before the foundation of the world, God called us and provided everything we need to be free, to do His will, even gifting us the faith to believe He can do this for us (II Tim. 1:9-10). The Apostle John rejoiced, "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). We are free at last! Praise the Father! We are free! Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 1/23/01,
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister
and last edited on 10/30/08.