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Make War!

Self help is a massive business these days. You can find it everywhere from TV to books. Everyone has advice on how to self evaluate and techniques to "heal" yourself or find a better you. I've come across so many Christians (including myself) flocking to Bible studies, seminars, churches and spending money on self help books, CDs, DVDs, conventions. We figure because the one whose teaching on it is a "Pastor" or "Teacher" then it must be good. I've heard a lot of testimonies from others about how this person helped them understand their life and put things into perspective. How so and so gave them understanding about what happened to them. How this or that person helped them look inward and find strength, wisdom, courageand understanding.

Sounds really good on the surface. Who doesn't want to understand themselves better and overcome hurdles from pain or abandonment, abuse, drug addiction etc.? Coming from a rough background myself, I too started getting into it.

I began reading books written by Christians that claimed to help get me out of the rut. My mind was still stuck in everything I'd been through. I constantly asked God "why"? Why had I gone through all of that? In addition to the books, I began going to Bible studies that were centered around healing from the past. No matter what I did, what I learned, how I applied it nothing really worked. I became really good at self evaluating, coming up with reasons why I did things I did and acted the way I acted and behaved the way I behaved. Of course it all went back to everything I'd been through.

I especially blamed my parents. It was their fault. They and God did this to me. Why would He allow this to happen? Why did He let me be born into a family that was going to disappear so fast only to damage me? The more I questioned and blamed, the more a certain scripture kept popping up...

'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'?" - Ezekiel 18:2

I had no idea what that meant, but I kept seeing it. I decided to look into it. That proverb refers to the Jews who were blaming their fathers for their captivity in Babylon. In essence, it was those before them that sinned and brought God's harsh discipline. It wasn't their fault and they were blame shifting. That's exactly what I was doing. In reality, when we are raised with a lot of turmoil and sadness then what comes later is just a natural consequence to sin. God doesn't actively bring about damage in us. It's a part of nature. God isn't punishing us because of those before us. We're just seeing the law of sowing and reaping. They will give an account for what they did and we will too.

I began to learn more and question the whole "self help" thing. All the inward searching I was doing and ending up complaining and crying to God about almost daily was doing even more damage. He certainly cares about and loves us. He's concerned when we've been hurt, but I began to see that the last thing He wanted was for us to dwell on it. What He wants is for us to throw it off and keep going...

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead," Philippians 3:13

We have to forget about the past. All the past injustices, all the defeats, all the failures and even all the gains and keep running the race marked out for us by God. We can't run that race if we're still standing over our pasts, crying over them, digging through the wreckage and trying to make sense. Who runs a race constantly looking behind them?

"If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have past away and behold, all things have become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17

If we're new creatures in Christ then why are we still looking back to the old man?

"and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Ephesians 4:24

When we're sifting through the rubble of our past how are we putting on the new self? We're not, we're still trying to make the old man fit

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" Romans 6:4

If we've been buried why are we continuing to dig up the old self? That's just morbid and completely self centered. The world tells us to look in, but God tells us to look up. All "self help" is doing is keeping us centered on ourselves and stuck. If therapy is so productive why do people spend years in it and spend thousands on it?

"Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past" Isaiah 43:18

But this is exactly what we're doing by flocking to seminars, conventions, churches, books, CDs, DVDs, teachers and preachers that advocate some form of self help. You may say, "but I need to understand where I came from to know where I'm going?"

My answer to that is: we came from sin. While we were in it we were heading for destruction. We're no longer in it therefore, we know where we're going. If it's patterns of behavior, lifestyle and thinking that concerns you that is a direct result of how you grew up then the first thing we should all be doing is transforming our minds with the Bible and prayer.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

You may say "I'm not happy". How is going back to your old life gonna make that better? If we were so happy in sin then there's no way we'd recognize how sinful we were to begin with and in need of reconciliation with God. Our joy is not dependent on the world, circumstances or our pasts. It's in God and God alone. That's what makes Christians so peculiar to everyone. We keep our eyes on something greater and not on what's around us. Joy comes from nothing other than God...

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-25

You may say "I'm so weak from everything! How can I do anything for God like this?"

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." - 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'" Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

In that scripture Paul had the "thorn in the flesh" and begged God 3 times for Him to remove it and God told Him "no" that His grace was sufficient for him and while Paul was weak with that thorn God was able to show His strength through him. It's interesting to note what the "thorn" was. It was slander. Paul was being slandered by false teachers. They were trashing him left and right to not only the churches the Paul himself planted, but anyone that would listen.

Have you been slandered? As painful and damaging as it is, Satan is preempting...he's using a shock an awe tactic. He's trying to destroy you before you do damage to him. So when dealing with a slanderer or any bad situation and pride rears itself, when we become angry, bitter, vengeful, shamed, humiliated etc...this is what we need to make war against. Not the persecutor. It's the sin in us that wants to lash out at them or turn in on ourselves.

"so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." 1 Corinthians 2:5

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

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5

In a nut glorifies God to take someone who is weak, beaten down, tired, uneducated, dark or sordid past and lift them up by His power, by His might and make a spectacle out of them in a powerful way. When God uses those who the world deems useless it is a testament to His greatness. I made it through everything, but I didn't do it on my own. He upheld me the entire time as He did for you. A Pastor told me a few months ago..."it is truly a testament to God that you went through that and it hasn't crushed you".  Like Paul, we need to glory in our weaknesses because when we are weak we aren't dependent on ourselves,we throw ourselves on Him and He works through us. It makes God conspicuous to the world.

I know how oppressive these things can be in our lives. I've lived it. I know what it is to be attacked, drug through the mud, humiliated, beaten down and it coming from those closest to me.  And it won't get better at all. We are the enemy to the world and they will treat us as such. Attacks will come from behind, in front and will blind side us.

But it's not up to us to break the hold of the oppressing things. That's God's job and any help we try to give Him will make a mess of things. He is the Redeemer and that means He redeems us from all things including our pasts. Only He can break the hold of the enemy and since we know Satan is the father of those who disobey God then we know all the pain, all the struggles, all the abuse we've gone through at the hands of others ultimately came from him.

God is faithful and will make a way out for us and will break the hold of what binds us. It's important to note that Satan doesn't send anyone to hell. He's not that powerful. He is the tempter, he knows our weaknesses, he knows exactly where to hit us to bring us down, he'll ruthlessly and savagely attack us, but in the end we make the choice to give in or not therefore, we end up holding the bag for that choice and responsibility not Satan.

If we continue to hang onto the past no matter what our excuse it for doing it then we are not fit for serving God...

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

We do get instructions on what we should be doing...

"let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" -Hebrews 12: 1

Ever notice when someone runs a marathon they wear special clothing? It doesn't bind up, doesn't catch wind to slow them down, it doesn't weight them down. Many even shave their bodies! They remove everything that will hinder them. We are to do the same!

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

If we're so fixated on our pasts then our eyes on not fixated on Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith. Self help isn't the author and perfecter of our faith nor is any teacher, preacher, author etc. Only God is and He will perfect it without us "helping ourselves" We can't do it anyway.

"No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:27

Make war! Not on other people or the world but on ourselves. We are our greatest enemies. It doesn't matter if your behavior now is a result of your past. It's still sin and must be beaten into submission. That means declaring all out war on any sin, tendencies, sinful behavior, patterns and habits no matter how we came to have them. No amount of crying, murmuring or whining over the past is going to change anything. No amount of looking back and mourning will change anything unless we want to stay in the rut. It'll just keep you and me unproductive, forfeiting the race and totally defeated. But if we make war on these things and force them to submit to God and to truth we are snatching the foothold back from Satan and running that race allowing nothing to hold us past failures, successes, pain, abuse, addictions, hurts, defeats, humiliations...nothing.

Does the Bible ever give an example of someone self examining their pasts before moving on? No. God has no intentions of allowing us to stay in the mire defeated. It's what he pulled us from in the first place. Can you imagine Mary Magdalene after being caught in adultery sitting down for 10 years to figure our what made her choose adultery? Adultery was her mire and she almost received the full penalty of it, but she was snatched from it. Why would God now want her to hang around for several years trying to figure it out. Jesus never told anyone "examine your past, come up with a reason and solution then follow Me". He came in, snatched from the fire and ordered "Pick up your cross and Follow Me".

He doesn't want to hear whining from the back..."Lord I've had a hard life! I don't want to carry anymore!" Or "I'm already so tired! Can't someone else carry this thing for a while?"

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Mathew 11:28-29

We were already tired, burdened and loaded down with sin when we went to Him. He removed it. Why do we insist on picking it up again and trying to carry it? His yoke is easy and light. He doesn't see our past anymore yet we insist on dragging it to Him ourselves and putting it on display. A holy God who hates sin and we want to keep showing it to Him. We're making Satan's job so obsolete. We're beating him to the throne with all our filth that God already forgave us for. We need to concentrate on what's happening now. Now is when we want to beat him to throne. He's already accusing us for what we did in the past. Satan doesn't need our help. What God wants is....

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:10-18

Be strong in who? Beth Moore? Rick Warren? Benny Hinn? In ourselves? No the LORD. The above is someone getting ready for war, to do battle yet we want to throw ourselves back into the mire to make sense out of it. God doesn't want us caught up in the past. It doesn't matter anyway. We're dead to it. It's over and long gone. None of that is going to change anything about us. Only God will and He's the one we should be looking too. No digging through the ruins of our past is going to help in our future. The past and its sin did nothing to help us anyway except speed up our descent into eternal destruction. Why do we think it'll help us as a new creature with a new future? I don't know about you, but I'm sick of falling back into the rut. I'm throwing off all that hinders, declaring all out war on all that is sin, putting on the armor against the enemy who will use my sin and others against me, and running the race. I'll trust God to take care of the rest. Make war!

Plowmen have plowed my back and long were the wounds they made - Psalm 129:3

Yes they have and we may be badly scarred,  but we're not dead and it should be driving us to deeper holiness by making war on ourselves.


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Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
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