It seems that many Christians end up halfway between bondage and victory. What I mean by that is they don't want to go back to where they came from, but they're just not sure they can make it all the way through and reach the ultimate goal. But Jesus didn't die for us to be halfway to anything He offers. God wants us to go all the way the way through.
So what does it take to go all the way through? It takes spiritual maturity, growing up in God and even dying to self. You know, usually we do okay along this journey until it becomes costly, inconvenient or even hurtful. But what we don't realize is victory is often just on the other side of that pain.
I wonder what would have happened if Jesus would have said He wanted some cushion on the cross. The cross means resurrection, but it also means death. Thank God for the resurrection and what happened on Sunday, but in order to get to Sunday, Jesus had to go through the pain and death of the cross. He had to go through it. And victory was waiting on the other side.
Why did He have to go through death? To take the keys of hell and death away from Satan (see Revelation 1:18). He did it for us, so we don't have to live halfway to the best God has for us, and He sent His Holy Spirit to help us go all the way with God.
As I mentioned above, in order to go all the way, we first have to die to self. Dying to self, or the desires of the flesh, isn't easy, but it's how you gain freedom from the things that are holding you back in life.
How do you die to something? You quit feeding it. You see, every time you give in to the desires of your flesh, you feed it. But every time you press through and starve those desires, a little bit of your flesh dies.
I could list hundreds of things I've had to die to over the years, but here are just a few.
• Sin: There were things that I knew without a doubt I shouldn't do but I did them anyway. I've learned through my experiences that I can't receive the full blessings of God and live with sin in my life.
• Blame: It's almost second nature to find someone to blame when something goes wrong. For example, if I lost my car keys, it was because the kids or Dave misplaced them. I eventually got it that always blaming someone else just made me unhappy and it didn't fix the problem.
• Excuses: Deciding that "It's just too hard" or "I'm not like anyone else" is easy to do. But if we will take responsibility for our choices and what we're supposed to do, we will be more positive in general and make progress in our relationship with God.
• Self-pity: Feeling sorry for ourselves is the most useless waste of energy on the planet. It does absolutely no good. We can't let our circumstances or what others do or don't do control us. We can decide to be happy regardless.
• Complaining: It may seem like it would be a miracle to get through one day without murmuring or complaining. But if we will set our minds to say positive things instead and ask God to help us, we can progressively get complaining out of our conversation. Just think about how much better your day will be if you go to work and don't complain about anything.
• Rebellion: Because my dad abused me, I was determined to never let a man tell me what to do. God clearly showed me that I needed to be a submissive wife if I wanted to be effective in ministry. The truth is, if we don't learn to submit to authority, we won't ever learn to submit to God.
• Reputation: The more people I reach, the more people there are that have opinions about me. Not everyone loves me, but I have to be okay no matter what they think about me.
• Injustice: The unfair things people do makes me want to say, "It's just not fair!" But I have learned to trust that God is a God of justice, and according to Isaiah 61:7, He will give me double for my trouble in His way and in His timing.
• Wrong Words: Our words will either bring life and victory or death and destruction. If we want to be happy, we have to be serious about speaking words of life that line up with God's Word.
• Ungodly Thoughts: I like to say, where the mind goes, the man follows. All of our problems start in our minds. As long as we think wrong thoughts, we won't have all that God wants us to have.
Some of these things I have to die to over and over again. For our relationship with God to grow, we have to be willing to die to the things that aren't of God so we can make it all the way through to victory and freedom. If you'll press in, do what you can do, and trust God, He'll help you move from a life stuck in the middle to a life full of the best He has planned for you.