By Femi Aribisala
When I gave my life to Christ, some sins in my life disappeared immediately. However, most of my sins persisted. No matter how hard I tried, I could not overcome them. I would sin, repent, sin again, then repent again.
This became a never-ending cycle and I was frustrated with myself. I am supposed to be a new creation in Christ Jesus, but the old creation would not leave me alone:
“I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” (Romans 7:18-23).
I took my predicament to the Lord, and He answered me with a scripture that took me some time to fully understand. He said: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).
Don’t be discouraged
Jerry Brown Johnson brought a man to our fellowship. He was very excited at the onset. He was a new believer and he loved the Lord dearly. But soon, he stopped coming.
When I asked Jerry about him, he said the man felt he was being hypocritical by coming to fellowship. He found that he could not give up his old ways. Why continue to come when he was continuing in sin? Therefore, the sick decided to stop coming to the hospital. He resolved to only come back when he became well.
But we need to be patient with ourselves. We cannot be righteous in a hurry. Holiness is progressive. It takes time. It does not take place overnight.
I gave this same counsel to a parent inclined to beat his children black and blue because they were slow in learning something he was teaching them.
Solomon says: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
If you have given your life to Christ and have received the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, I have news for you. God’s time and chance have happened to you. Therefore, be still and know that the Lord is God. (Psalm 46:10).
Pastor (Mrs) Adetola of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) wanted to give a message on the perfecting of the saints. God gave her a vision of a baby learning to walk. As he walked, he fell. He got up, tried again, and fell again. Then God said to Mrs. Adetola: “That is perfection.”
The Lord has compassion for those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:13). If we are trying to live the Christian life the best way we know how but you keep stumbling and falling, God does not get sick and tired of us. He knows we require time to grow, and He is patient with us.
If we are not living in willful rebellion against God, then God is satisfied with us even with the sins in our lives. Provided we continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
It does not mean that God does not care if we sin. He does. He wants us to be holy. He knows that sin hurts us, and He dearly loves us. God hates sin. But He considers our make-up. His strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9).
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
Of course, we must continue to be concerned about our sins and continue to strive for righteousness. But we must be willing to accept ourselves with our sins and inadequacies in the meantime because God does.
Properly understood, God’s grace never encourages us to sin. On the contrary, it provokes us to righteousness. Paul says: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12). But remember this: “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13).
We are co-labourers with God. But He determines the times and the seasons.
Slow but steady
Spiritual growth requires time, just as physical growth requires time. It does not happen in a hurry. No matter how eager the baby is, it cannot become an adult overnight. Therefore: “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2).
We grow slowly physically as well as spiritually. So, stop harassing yourself for your transgressions. Isaiah says: “Whoever believes will not act hastily.” (Isaiah 28:16).
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3).
Looking unto Jesus
Jesus was born a King. What kind of King do you get in a baby boy who is still learning to walk and talk? And yet, baby Jesus was a King. Wise men came from the East to worship Him even at the age of two years.
He did not start by being six feet tall. At one point, he crawled and could not walk. At another, he was as small as a midget. He did not start by being full of wisdom; he grew in this incrementally. “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2:52). He did not start his ministry until he was thirty.
At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3”17). At that point, His ministry had not even begun. He had not preached the gospel. He had not healed the sick. He had not died for sins. And yet, God already declared that He was pleased with Him.
This is because God calls those things that be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17). He knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, God bases everything on the end and not on the beginning. So, He knows that at the end, we will be exactly like Jesus.
Therefore, even now, He declares that we are accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1;6). We are accepted, even as we are. We are accepted even with your inadequacies. We are accepted, even with our sins. We are accepted, even with our failures.
If you are in Jesus, the Son, in whom God is well pleased, then God is also well pleased with you. We were accepted in the beloved before the foundation of the world.