Are you fighting in the flesh what needs to first be battled in the mind?
In other words, are you striving, as we’re all prone to do, to resist temptations? Are you desperately trying to stop the “bad” behavior, maybe even being wise by getting ahead of the triggers?
And yet, you keep failing.
You keep dipping into the candy jar.
You keep flipping the channel to that trashy show you said you wouldn’t watch any more.
You keep repeating the self-loathing accusations you know don’t line up with what God has to say about you.
Oh, sister, you’re not alone.
The struggle is real. Real as it has ever been.
Real as it was for Eve as it is for us today.
I struggle with my sugar addiction daily . . . living in the house with a teenage baker doesn’t help. I struggle with the comparison trap, often feeling not good enough. I struggle with striving to accomplish more instead of embracing rest.
So what hope is there for us to ever change?
Are we doomed to be stuck in this rut of not doing what we want to do and doing what we do want to do?
Isn’t that exactly what Paul wrote about in Romans?
Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?Romans 7:16-24 MSG
Do you feel like Paul is inside your head, my friend? ‘Yes, he understands the battle. God understands the battle. And I understand it too.
There is a way forward . . . where freedom from sin and struggle can be found.
Paul takes us straight at the concluding of the passage:
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.Romans 7:25 MSG
Jesus can change us from the inside out.
But here’s the deal . . . He requires more than just being Lord over our actions. He also needs to be Lord over our minds.
Through my studies in trauma-focused equine-assisted coaching, I’ve come to see how critically God has made our brains to be engaged in our healing and transformation.
Behavior is the indicator of what’s going on inside our minds.
So if we simply try to modify behavior without getting to the root of our thinking, we won’t change. Equally important, we have to realize that sin is a player in our flesh. We have to confess our sin to receive the freedom Christ secured for us.
4 Steps Towards Lasting Change
So that area of your life that you keep getting tripped up in . . . that sin that so easily entangles you . . . instead of focusing on the behavior, back it up to consider your mindset with these three key steps:
ONE: Trace down your thoughts through your feelings.
Are you lonely? Frustrated? Angry? Afraid? Are you seeking comfort? Security? Intimacy? Approval? Take captive your thoughts and make them obedient to the Truth (2 Corinthians 10:5).
TWO: Identify the thoughts that are associated with your feelings.
Do those thoughts line up with the truth? If not, what is the truth according to God’s Word? Ask God to transform your thinking by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
THREE: Evaluate the possibility of sin hiding in your life and confess it before God.
Are your feelings and thoughts rooted in any kind of sin? Is there any hint of jealously, idolatry, selfishness, pride, lying, deception? Whatever the sin may be, confess it to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9; James 5:16)
FOUR: Find connection to experience true freedom!
It can be a hard road forward, but it is not one you have to travel by yourself. Find a trustworthy and godly friend, mentor, counselor, or coach who can walk this out with you. God designed us for community! He made us for connection! We are to be His love and part of His healing and freedom-giving!
Do this again and again and watch God set you free!
No matter how small or great your struggle may seem, being set free to enjoy the life God has secured for you in Christ is worth this sanctifying journey.