I Think I Finally GET IT!

This is from a lady who was attending the Freedom From Addictive Behaviors Basic Webinar and reading the book, Helping Others Overcome Addictions. Vernon Terrell set up the webinars and conducts them with me. Hi, Vernon and Mike!Just wanted to share what God has been doing in my life this week – it’s been truly amazing!!  As you know, I’ve struggled with really understanding what you both teach about grace and how it really should affect us Christians…  Well, I think I finally understand…!!  Here’s my story:

My own, transforming “Holy Week” – 2013

Sunday…Had been reading  Helping Others Overcome Addictions (which SHOULD be called “Helping Others (and Yourself!) Overcome Addictions” and while watching “The Bible” episode 3 that evening and seeing how Jesus faced the 3 temptations of Satan, it just really showed me how it was KNOWING who He was that enabled Him to say NO to the temptations.  Especially when they showed the stone turning to bread and how hungry He was…  A little later that evening I had my own temptation – and ironically, it was also for BREAD!  As I’ve shared before, my struggle is a FOOD addiction, and also I’d found recently that I have physical reactions to gluten and have to stay away from bread – which is SO hard for me…  So that evening I was really craving bread and was so tempted to just give in and go ahead and have a regular sandwich on regular bread – I was NOT hungry, just wanted to EAT.  The vision of Jesus in that movie came to mind, and then it hit me!  I simply asked Jesus to live through me and be my strength (not GIVE me strength – but BE my strength!) – and in just a few minutes the craving was GONE.  And I’ve been binge-free ever since!  Could it REALLY be THIS simple??  After struggling since age 7 with this??!!  AMAZING.

Monday… continued reading more of the book and started thinking “something is changing in my thinking.”

Tuesday…Was reading more of the book – and it referenced Rom. 6:6.  I’ve read this verse MANY times, but somehow this time it jumped out at me and its meaning became crystal clear!!  I was like, “Is THAT what it’s really saying??!!” so I looked it up in the Amplified version (which many times makes things clearer to me) and could hardly believe my eyes!  I ended up studying the whole 6th chapter of Romans, and God used this to truly open my eyes to the real TRUTH!  (Maybe the difference this time is that as the book suggested, I first prayed and just simply ASKED God to enlighten me on this and to clarify my understanding – and He just did it!)

Romans 6 – We YIELD, OFFER, SUBMIT, CONSIDER OURSELVES DEAD TO SIN…  says nothing about STRIVE, WORK, TRY harder, DO, STOP doing…!!

Rom. 6:6 We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin.

10 For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].

11 Even so 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.

12 Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions.

13 Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness.

14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].

Rom. 6:22 – But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life. (AMP)

HOLINESS IS A REWARD!!!!  Not something you strive to DO!!

Wrestling – or RESTING – ??!! (MY idea!!)

Meanwhile, while driving somewhere that morning, I was listening to an audio called Walking in the light (Steve McVey) – We can do nothing to generate DARKNESS – darkness is simply the absence of LIGHT!!  If you want to rid yourself of the darkness, just turn to the LIGHT of Jesus and the darkness IS GONE!!

Likewise, DEATH is the absence of LIFE. (NOTE:  D/L and D/L!!)  So if you want to rid yourself of DEATH (sin) – just turn to the LIFE (Jesus) and the DEATH (sin) is GONE!!

Steve then read the following verse: 1 Cor. 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

I always read this verse as anyone who sins or lives that way will NOT go to heaven so we’d better get ourselves straightened out and pronto!!  But this time, it read totally differently to me!  Again, I had to look up this verse for myself and really ponder its true meaning…

NOTE:  Such WERE some of you… but you WERE washed, etc.  Past tense!

Also!!!!!  It implies that all this change was something done TO you – not BY you!!!  It doesn’t say “you washed yourself, you sanctified yourself, you justified yourself” – Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!

Got home and looked up this verse in some other versions:

MESSAGE version:  Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.

NLT:  But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

THE VOICE:  Some of you used to live in these ways, but you are different now; you have been washed clean, set apart, restored, and set on the right path in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed, by the Spirit of our living God.

AMPLIFIED:  And such some of you were [once]. But you were washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and you were consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and you were justified [pronounced righteous, by trusting] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God.

MY THOUGHTS:  WOW!!  It does NOT say this sanctification, justification, and cleansing happened AFTER you started behaving differently!!  It says these things HAVE HAPPENED to you ALREADY!!  TOTALLY backwards of what I always thought it meant!!

And just to confirm that I was on the right track once again (in that special, personal way that God always does things if we’re just paying attention!) – when I picked the book back up to continue reading, the very next scripture it referenced was this one!!

Wednesday…Was listening to the next audio in my car on the way to choir where Steve and Bill Gilham are talking about now that we’re dead to sin, how do we find LIFE…  They were talking about how we just TRUST that it’s CHRIST living IN us and THROUGH us – that HE is “animating” us as we live and move…  I needed strength SO badly for choir – to be able to stand and sing in the choir preparing for Easter – and strength is quite lacking in my body physically since I’m still dealing with chronic Lyme Disease and other illnesses…  I had even thought about not singing just yet but it’s in my heart to do so.  So while walking towards the rehearsal, I asked JESUS to animate me and BE my energy and strength.  I realized that HE is not weak or tired – and that if HE is living in ME – then I could rely on HIS energy to get me through this!!  When I got to the stage, the worship pastor (whom I’d already shared about my limited standing ability) set up a CHAIR just for me to use to sit down every so often!!  If I can do that, it really helps.  God is SO good!!  He totally got me through the rehearsal!!  And I’d also shared with the leader that I might not make it through all 3 services on Sunday but thought I could do 2, which he said was fine.

During the rehearsal, he was picking vocalists to come out front and sing on microphones with him for different songs, and I wanted to do so very badly but was scared about whether I could make all 3 services or not.  I then remembered that Christ is now my strength and that HE could animate me on Sunday just like He was doing at that rehearsal – so I made a snap decision to GO for it and just trust HIM that I WILL make all 3 services through HIS strength!!  Was on Cloud 9 all the way home 🙂

Also, while singing these songs, I felt like I was going to float off the stage!!  The lyrics now have SUCH a different meaning to me!!!!  All about what His death and resurrection really HAVE DONE for me!!  I just KNOW I was glowing!!

Thursday…Read the verse about how I am in Christ and He is in me…  Got a mental picture of me being so close to Jesus with Him holding his arms and robes around me that I was totally protected from the world out there – HIDDEN with Christ(!) – and no one could see me!  Then added the part about Christ being in ME – so now I’m inside Christ with Him totally surrounding me with Himself – AND He is at the same time filling every part of my being with Himself – to the point that the only thing left of “ME” is a tiny shell of a body – just enough to contain the Spirit of God inside!!  I’ve read this verse many times over the years and remember Mike sharing how it was that verse (John 14:20) that transformed him completely – but I never really understood just what it really means – until now!!

Wondering what tomorrow will bring…!!

How Can I Believe The Truth?


How Can I Believe the Truth?

 This is the question that I get in my ministry over and over. My ministry is to teach, train, equip and provide resources that show people how to find true and lasting freedom from addictions. My message is very simple. In a nutshell, it is that “Your old self was crucified with Christ and you are dead to sin, freed from it and you no longer live, but Christ lives in you and the life you now live you are living by the faith of the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you Rom. 6:6, 7; Gal. 2:20”. By the way I have noticed that when people believe this they find true and lasting freedom from addiction. I think a large part of the problem is that it is too simple. That is why I went to seminary and got educated beyond the level of my intelligence.

However most really struggle with this truth and ask the question, “How can I believe the truth”? That really isn’t their question. They are really asking, “How can I get a feeling or an awareness that this is true”? Of course the answer is you cannot or if you do it won’t last and you will be right back where you were asking the question again. I’m not putting down anyone or accusing anyone as I have asked the question many times myself.

What if on a bright, sunny day in Atlanta with the temperature hovering near 100 someone walks up to you, wipes the sweat off his brow and says, “How can I believe the truth that the sun is shining”? Do I need to pray longer, read my bible more, memorize scripture, get counseling, etc., etc. I am confronted with that question in many different forms – not about the sun shining, but believing the truth of their being dead to sin, freed from it and their oneness with Christ.

The answer is you will never believe if you must have visible proof, an awareness, or a feeling. Scripture is clear that it is only by faith that we receive and appropriate truth. What is faith? It is looking to, depending on, trusting in, receiving and believing what you cannot see. It is a transaction done by the Spirit and cannot be confirmed physically and materially. It is helpful to me to know that I am not a physical being who has received a Spirit, but a spiritual being who lives in a body. My body is not who I am and one of these days my body is going to give out and die, but I will live on eternally. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

Faith according to Merriam Webster is “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”. I think they mean no physical proof. The bible says “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Abraham is called the “Father of Faith”. He believed in God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things which do not exist (Rom. 4:17 ). WOW! There is the Key! He believed God. He believed what He said and what He would do. He believed God could raise the dead and by His word speak the creation in to existence. WOW! What you and I are called to do is to believe what He has done. IT IS FINISHED! It is a done deal that we are in Christ and He is in us and He is our life (John 14:20, Col. 3:4).

When Jesus cursed the fig tree and Peter pointed out to Him, that it was withered, He said, Have faith in God and you will be able to cast mountains into the sea (Mark 11:22) ). When Jesus was on the way to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter, who was dying some people came from his home and said to Jesus, “Don’t bother the teacher anymore, your daughter is dead. Ignoring what they said, Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe’ (Mark 5:36). To have faith in God and to believe Him, you must ignore everything else. We need to ignore the circumstances, our feelings, and what others say (including most Christians). We are not a society who believes in miracles.

When we ask that question, “How can I believe the truth”, we are really making a statement of unbelief and saying we don’t believe the truth that we are dead to sin and freed from it and Christ is our life, because I don’t have a sign, a feeling, an awareness or any visible proof. To look for this visible proof is unbelief and as long as you look for it you will never get it. Unfortunately that is where most Christians live. They wouldn’t dare declare that, but their lives demonstrate that is what they believe. As my friend and pastor Herb Sims says, they live like practical atheists. But it is true whether you and I believe it or not. Maybe we should say, “Lord I do not feel like I am dead to sin and freed from it and Christ is my life and living it, but I believe it because you say it is so and it is the truth. Thank You Lord”>

We cannot get any more free than we already are (Gal. 5:1, John 8:36). We cannot get any more complete than we already are (Col. 2:10). We cannot get any more righteous than we already are. If Christ is in me and I am in Him and He is living my life, then what else do I need? Do I really need more than Christ. I have it all.

Norman Grubb tells of the time when he was confronted with the truth of Gal. 2:20 when he and his wife Pauline were in Africa as missionaries, but both of them realized it was not a reality to them. They decided to stay up one night until they could declare that it was. They did, although Norman admitted he had no feeling or awareness of it, but he was going to stand on the truth of it. He took a postcard and drew a tombstone on it and wrote “Here lies the old Norman Grubb”. And it was two years later before he really understood and realized that Gal. 2:20 was a reality in his life. When I learned the truth of Gal. 2:20 25 years ago and was freed from my alcoholism, I wrote a little pamphlet called, The Key to the Victorious Christian life and put a tombstone on the from of it, with “Here lies the Old Self…Born in Adam…Died in Christ… with the verses of Gal. 2:20 and Rom. 6:6, 7). I’ve distributed thousands of them.

But when I woke up this morning I didn’t feel dead to sin and freed from it. But, so what? What am I going to believe? If I believe my feelings, my Christian life will be up and down like a roller coaster, mostly down. But when I believe the truth I live in the freedom, peace and joy that is mine as God’s dearly loved son on whom His favor rests and in whom He is well pleased.

It is the truth that you are dead to sin, freed from it and the old self you were was crucified with Christ and you no longer live, but Christ lives in you and the life you live, you live by the faith of the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you. It is true whether you believe it, feel it, act like it, look like it or not . Truth is what God says, regardless of how you feel.

I am no different than you. I hardly ever feel dead to sin and freed from and that I am one with Christ. In fact hardly a day passes that I don’t feel insecure, inadequate and inferior. BUT, I don’t have to let my feelings define who I am. I don’t have to let my feelings determine my actions and you don’t either. We can choose to say “Lord, I don’t feel dead to sin, freed from it and one with you, but it is true and I am going to choose to believe it, regardless of my feelings”.