I love services that end with an altar call. This gives people the opportunity
to commit their lives to Jesus. What once was lost is found. Hallelujah! And
this particular Sunday, I had the privilege of counseling one of these young men
who had come forward and given his life to Christ.
As soon as I introduced myself, Jack (not his real name) opened up to me. With his head hanging low, he shared with me his painful struggle with sin, especially his sin of lust. He had tried for years to overcome it, but each time it returned, more viciously than ever. He was hopeless. He desperately needed Jesus' help to break free.
We prayed together and claimed Jesus' promise: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36 NIV) I never saw Jack again, but I know that if he depends on Jesus, his victory is guaranteed. How do I know? Because I used to have the same kind of struggle, and now I am free!
It is sad, but many believers lead a life of defeat. Sin dominates them. Circumstances dominate them. They faithfully attend church weekly, but it seems that something is missing in their lives. They are really no different from those who do not know the Lord.
If you are facing defeat, and victory seems to be way out of your grasp, then let me ask you a question: Who is really in charge of your life?
Although we are told that: "In the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian" (2 Tim 3:1 TLB), we must remember what Jesus said: "Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'" (John 8:34-37 NIV)
So let me repeat my question: Who is really in charge of your life, your sin, or Jesus? You cannot mix the holy with the filth, so it can't be both. So who is really in charge?
Friend, are you driven by the eternal or the temporary? I know most of you wish to be driven by the eternal, but how can you change your allegiance from sin to Christ?
It isn't easy. I know. I tried it on my own, many times, and it didn't work.
The answer is in this key Bible text: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34-35 NIV)
As long as we hold on to the reins of our life, we will not be following Christ. Only by denying ourselves and accepting Jesus as Savior, Lord and Master of our lives will victory be ours: "Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us." (Rom 8:37 TLB)
We were not called to be defeated. We were called to victory! How can we be victorious? Only "through Christ who loved us enough to die for us." His death and resurrection guarantees our victory, but it can only obtained if we deny ourselves and follow Christ 100% of the time.
In all reality, many Christians have been deceived. They believe the devil still has authority over them and this is why they live a life of bondage. This is far from the truth!
There is a great difference between the word "power" (dumais in Greek) and the word "authority" (exousia in Greek). Power means I have some ability to convince others, and to possibly overpower them, like the power to hurt or the power to fight. However the word authority means to have control over someone, to make them obey, even it is reluctant obedience. The presidents, prime ministers and kings of this world have authority over their countries. It is true that with this authority they also have certain powers; however it is possible to have certain powers without actually having any authority. Like the magician who has the power of performing powerful illusions, but has no authority over any of us.
Let's look at the following text: "For he has rescued us from the dominion (exousia or authority in English) of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Col 1:13-14 NIV)
The original Greek text clearly tells us that the devil had authority before Jesus' death. How did he get that authority in the first place? By deceiving humankind in Eden (See Gen. 3:1-7 and Luke 4:5-7). However, Jesus removed his authority at the cross. "All authority (exousia or authority in English) in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matt 28:18 NIV)
The good news is this: the devil no longer has authority over us! When we accept Jesus' gift of salvation, He transfers His authority to lead victorious lives and to overcome the power of the devil to us: "I have given you authority (exousia or authority in English) to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power (dunamis or power in English) of the enemy; nothing will harm you." (Luke 10:19 NIV)
But what about Satan's powers?
Let's look at how the Bible describes the devil:
1. Master Liar "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44 NIV)
(Be careful though. The devil always mixes truth with lies, so that it is harder to discern his deceptions!)
2. Master Deceiver "He (satan) will go out to deceive the nations of the world…" (Rev 20:8 TLB)
3. Steals, Kills and Destroys "The thief 's purpose is to steal, kill and destroy." (John 10:10 TLB)
The devil may have the power to deceive and steal and kill and destroy, but he has no authority over us.
It is possible however, for us to give authority to something that only has power over us. Meaning, we can allow the devil to have authority over us. How? By believing his lies. If we let him make us believe that we have no control over our weaknesses or our sin, we will lead a life of total defeat!
How can we successfully overcome his deceptions?
1. We need to be aware of his tricks and his deceptive ways, and we must never let our guard down: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
2. We need to ask God and depend on Him for victory: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15 NIV)
3. We need to trust Him and have faith in Him: "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt 17:20 NIV) If you lack faith, claim the faith of Jesus into your life. (See Luke 9:24)
4. Keep your eyes focused solely on Jesus: "Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" (Heb 12:1-3 The Message); "All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions." (1 Cor 7:35 The Message)
Friends, we have powerful weapons at our disposal: "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor 10:4-5 NIV). Let us use these to the glory of God!
The choice is ours. We can lead a life of defeat by believing the deceptions of the devil, or we can live a life of victory by depending solely on Jesus. Let us pray with the authority that Jesus gave us and we will legally bind Satan! Don't worry! God will back us up with His power!
P. S. Only by submitting ourselves to Christ's authority will His authority be delegated to us! "'Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out.' This is GOD's Message: 'If your sins are blood-red, they'll be snow-white. If they're red like crimson, they'll be like wool. If you'll willingly obey, you'll feast like kings. But if you're willful and stubborn, you'll die like dogs.'" (Isa 1:18-20 The Message)
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