When God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they had to go through the wilderness to get to the Promised Land He had for them. It was an eleven-day journey, but they spent 40 long, painful years wandering in the wilderness before any of them entered the land. And in the end, many of them died in the wilderness.
We tend to shake our heads and think, "What was their problem? How could they miss it?" But the reality is, many Christians today are wandering in their own wilderness, rather than living the abundant life Jesus died to give them.
Identifying the Real Root of the Problem
The Israelites' slavery in Egypt is the equivalent of our slavery to sin. God sent Moses to deliver them from bondage, and He sent Jesus Christ to set us free. And just as the Israelites had to take a journey to possess their Promised Land, we have to take a journey to possess the promises of God for our lives.
Now the Israelites thought their enemies-such as the Canaanites and Amorites-were the problem that was keeping them from the Promised Land. However, it was actually their thinking that kept them in the wilderness for so long, because God was on their side. And if God is for you, who can be against you? (See Romans 8:31.)
Well, we have our own brand of "ites": sickness-ites, poverty-ites, grouchy neighbor-ites, frustrating husband- or wife-ites… And we tend to think these "enemies" are our problem.
But the truth is, God is on our side, and our problem is really in our thinking. See, it's impossible to be happy and think sadness and depression. It's impossible to be free from the bondage of sin if you think you are still in bondage to sin. For example, thinking things like, "I'll never get over what happened to me," "I can't forgive them," and "I can't overcome that; it's too hard!" keeps us from victory over sin.
The good news is, if we will learn to think the way God thinks, we can possess the freedom to have and enjoy life in Christ.
Your Journey Through the Wilderness of Your Soul
When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, your sins are forgiven and you become a new creature in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). You are born again! Romans 6:2 (AMP) says, "…How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?" Jesus took our sins to the cross so we could be dead to sin and alive to righteousness.
There's a part of you-the born-again part, your spirit-that's dead to sin. That's why it bothers you now when you sin. The "wilderness" part of you-your soul-is your unrenewed mind, out-of-control emotions, and stubborn will. The journey you take through the wilderness is learning how to let the Holy Spirit invade your soul (mind, will and emotions) and get into every part of your life: your relationships, entertainment choices, profession, finances…
Romans 6:11 says, "Consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus" (AMP). I love this, because the word "consider" represents a process in the mind. So this verse is essentially saying, "Now think you're dead to sin; believe you're dead to sin."
With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can control your thoughts and renew your mind with God's Word. Instead of blaming everyone and everything else for your problems, pray for God to help you take an inventory of what's been on your mind so you can think about what you've been thinking about.
As you pray for the Holy Spirit to make you aware of thoughts that come into your mind that don't line up with God's Word, you'll begin to realize when those thoughts come and you can renew your mind with the Word.
I'm not saying it will always be easy to do this, but God will give you the ability to do what you need to do if you will lean on Him. No matter what has happened to you in the past or what is going on in your life right now, it has no power to keep you from having an amazingly good future if you will walk by faith in God. God loves you! He wants you to live with victory over sin so you can possess His promises for your life today!