Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Power to Succeed

He thought he had gotten away with it.

The battle had been nothing short of amazing. The walls of Jericho had simply crumbled as the army of Israel gave its shout. The soldiers swarmed into the city, destroying all but Rahab and her family as previously arranged. The orders were clear: take no prisoners, take no plunder. The city belonged to the Lord.

But Achan had disobeyed. The riches he came across as they swept through Jericho were too much of a temptation. He took a beautiful robe, gold, and silver and hid them within the folds of his clothing. No one will ever know, he thought as he stood with the others watching the rubble of Jericho go up in flames. His bounty would give his family a good start in the Promised Land. He brought his forbidden prize back to the camp and buried it beneath the family tent. No one saw. He went to bed that night alone in the knowledge he was now a rich man.

But in their next battle, Israel was soundly defeated. As God had promised to win their battles for them, Joshua knew something was terribly wrong. In answer to his pleas, God informed him there was sin in the camp. Joshua was led first to the tribe, then the family, and finally to Achan's household. Knowing he had been caught red-handed, Achan confessed. He, his family, and his livestock were sent into the wilderness. There Israel stoned the lot of them and burned their remains.

Why destroy the whole family? The sheep, the donkeys, the oxen? The truth of the matter is our sin affects far more than just ourselves. It reaches its slimy tentacles beyond us and wrecks havoc in the lives of those around us. We do no one any favors when we choose the destructive path of sin.

We usually don't start out intending to sin. So why do we succumb? Our old nature craves self-satisfaction. While we have been given a new potential, the old potential remains within us. The conflict between the two can be intense. "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," Paul wrote the Galatians. "These are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."

Jesus put it this way: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Bottom line: we can't win against the temptation to sin alone.

That's the bad news. But there is good news. God has made great power available to us: the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him at God's right hand in the heavenly places. It will give us everything we need to live a godly life, and will accomplish far more than we could ever ask or think. With His power, we can live lives victorious over sin.

So how do we tap into this amazing resource?

We can start by getting ourselves out of the way. We must stop making our walk with God all about our performance. We were inadequate to earn our salvation, and that inadequacy continues in our ability to live the Christian life. Tapping into the power of God is about recognizing we are not only saved by grace, but we live by grace as well. Jesus warned his disciples that abiding in him was their number one priority: not doing things for him, but resting in him and in his sufficiency.

"Who is adequate for these things?" asked Paul. The answer is none of us are. We need to get our eyes off of ourselves and on to the God who empowers us. "Apart from me, you can do nothing," Jesus warned. We cannot win over sin on our own. But we can do anything when we are infused with the power of God.

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

1 comment:

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