I’m increasingly convinced the devil couldn’t care less if we believe in God, or even if we read and talk about Him. In fact, I think he rather enjoys watching us trudge through believing in god but never flat-out believing God. That is, never believing He is who He says He is. Never believing He can and will do what He says He can and will do. Never believing we are all the things God says we are in Christ.
The demons believe in God…and shudder. But the demons don’t yield their will, and thus the demons never know the joy of resurrected life in Christ that comes as a result of dying to themselves.
When I think of yielding, I picture giving up or giving in. But I also picture a tree bearing fruit or a field producing a crop. I think of an investment growing from interest.
It’s interesting to me to consider this word, ‘yield’, in relationship to the surrender of our will to God’s. It would seem that yielding our will would mean giving up the things we want or are comfortable for us. And there may be some truth to that.
But submitting ourselves and our will to God is also the only way we will ever bear much fruit.
The last few months I’ve been in the book of Luke with a bible study group I’m in. A few weeks ago, we were in the passage where Jesus in the garden asking God to take the cup of suffering from Him if possible. But He qualifies His request by saying, “nevertheless, not my will but yours”.
Reading this, I was struck by something I had never really meditated on before.
Jesus had a will. A fully human will.
This is where we get into theology much too complex for this blog post. Jesus was fully God and fully man. And completely sinless. He had two distinct wills, human and divine. All at the same time, and in the same person.
I knew that, but it blew my mind to really consider the fact that Jesus had a will that He had to yield to the Father.
I realized that while I had always believed Jesus was fully God and fully human, I somehow created this image in my mind that simply was not biblical…some super-human with a human body but solely divine mind and will. It made it easier to understand how Jesus could have lived a sinless life. But it also made it harder to believe that I could ever actually be “free from the law of sin and death”.
I’ve spent some time digging into this, and here’s what I came away with. I pray it encourages you as it has me.
Jesus is without sin…original or personal
Jesus is fully God. He came to earth wrapped in our flesh but He did not bear the weight of Adam’s sin. We know this because for Christ to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament foreshadowing of the Messiah, He had to have been spotless.
He then lived His entire life never committing His own personal sin. He had ample opportunity through his teenage years (I mean, come on), His testing in the wilderness, and I imagine the frustration of the density of His disciples and adversaries alike.
Jesus had a human will…yet never gave it preference
The ultimate example of this is in the Garden before His crucifixion. But in John we hear Him again say, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38 ESV)
Jesus had a divine will that was coexistent to His own human will. He made conscious choices to forego His human desires if they were contrary to the will of God.
Which leads me to the point that has been most meaningful to me…
Jesus had desires that were contrary to the will of God…He simply never acted on them.
It almost feels blasphemous to type that. But after spending a lot of time reading and studying, I believe it is absolutely true. And it brings a whole new level of “freedom in Christ” if we can grasp it.
Listen to this…
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:12-15 ESV) (emphasis mine)
Our thoughts and desires are not our sin. Not until we entertain them and allow them conception.
I spent a lot of years in bondage to my thoughts. Unnecessary bondage. Bondage that Christ had already broken the chains of, but I decided to carry around with me anyway.
And I felt stuck.
I felt like I had no control over my mind, and thus had no hope of ever authentically living out my faith.
I know now this is yet another lie the enemy uses to keep us from walking in freedom. I may have thoughts or even desires that are contrary to God and His will. But He has given me everything I need to be able to take those thoughts and desires captive before they are ever conceived and have a chance to give way to sin.
Jesus battled the devil’s temptations with scripture. I am called to do the same. Jesus yielded His will (which included avoiding trial and suffering) to the Father’s, I am called and equipped to do the same!
Hebrews 2:18 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet without sin.”
When Paul says we are “free from the law of sin and death”, he doesn’t mean we are free to forget about the law and do as we please. Scripture says in Romans 7 that the law not only reveals the ways in which we sin against God, but it also stirs up those desires. Imagine a child who wants to go into the kitchen and get a cookie, but if you tell them they can’t they want it even more.
When Paul tells us we are free from the law, he is essentially saying that if we are in Christ, we ARE capable of taking our thoughts and desires captive before they give way to sin. We are free, not only from condemnation when we do sin, but from the very enticement of sin itself. We are not slaves to our thoughts, desires, emotions, or human will.
Here’s what this means…
If you frequently find yourself in the same patterns of behavior or thoughts, you can jerk the wheel and get out of the rut. Jesus came that we might have life, and freedom in this life. And when He left this earth, He left us with a helper. The Holy Spirit will prompt you take a thought captive before it ever is conceived, that you might not sin. And the way we take our thoughts captive is by replacing them with God’s word. The Holy Spirit will bring to mind Truth that is hidden in your heart when you are faithful to hide it there.
So today, will you only believe in God? Or will you believe Him at His word and yield your will to His in every thought, decision, and action? You don’t have to do it in your own strength. In fact, you can’t.
You will never earn your salvation by being good enough, your righteousness is in Christ alone.
However, you are also not stuck. You can be free, you can be restored, you can be whole, you can be healthy minded.
Ask Him to help you, and find Him to be faithful!