Summary: Part 2 in the series "Victory in Jesus." We must die to ourselves in order to have victory over sin and live for Christ.
DEAD MAN WALKING
Victory In Jesus – Part 2
September 26, 2004
I was born and raised in the church. Ok, I was not literally born in a church. I was born in a hospital, but you know what I mean. Actually the day I was born my parents missed church because I was born on a Sunday. But as soon as mom and I were home from the hospital I was in church. When I was growing up we went to church on Sunday mornings including Sunday school and again on Sunday night. Wednesday after school there was CYC and in the evening we went back for prayer meeting and Bible study. When we had special speakers at our church we went to every single service.
It goes with out saying that I was raised to be a Christian. I knew the stories about Jesus and the disciples. I knew the kinds of things that were wrong and what was right. I knew how I should live my life and what kind of person I should be. I knew the truth. I had all the head knowledge that anyone could ask for. But somehow all that head knowledge never made it to my heart.
As a result I rebelled against God, my parents and church when I was a teenager. When I was seventeen I decided that I had enough of church. I decided that since it wasn’t doing me any good as far as I could tell there wasn’t any reason to go any longer. So I stopped going to church with my family.
Deciding to live life my own way I set out in a radically different direction than they way I had been raised to live. I got into drinking and drugs and sex. The longer I continued in that path the more my life began to revolve around drinking. Who could I find to buy beer for me? Where could I get the money? If my friends and I couldn’t get the money and find a buyer we didn’t give up like most others would have. We would steal the money or if need be steal the liquor. What ever it took. It became the driving force in my life.
After only three years I was well down the path of alcoholism and I was making myself miserable. After drinking all night I would have to get up with only a few hours of rest and with a nasty hang over and go to work. After working while feeling sick all day I would then go out and do it all over again. Life wasn’t fun anymore. I thought there must be more to life than this. And I knew from being raised in the church that there was.
And so as I reached the end of my rope in only three short years I turned to Jesus who said, “If you now the truth the truth will set your free.” And it did. I was set free from addictions to alcohol and tobacco. I was set free from sin and forgiven. I was set free to live a new life that was pleasing to God and ended up being far more pleasing to myself as well. That was something that I never would have expected just three years earlier.
There was nothing that I did to earn or deserve this gift of salvation. It was the free gift of God offered to me by faith through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
However, after being born again there was a lot of growing and maturing that needed to take place in my life. And rather than living by faith I found myself at times trying to be the person God wanted me to be on my own. And the harder I tried the more I seemed to fail and fall short. I’m getting ahead of myself here a little bit but I want to share with you a verse that we will be looking at next week in chapter three because what Paul wrote to the Galatians could well have been written of me.
“Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3, NLT)
I love how that verse puts it. “Have you lost your senses?” “Have you lost your mind?” “What are you thinking?” If you couldn’t save yourself why do you think you can sanctify yourself? All I knew was this: even though I was a Christian I still felt/knew that there must be something more. No matter how hard I tried to live up to God’s standards and do the right thing that I knew to do I just kept falling short. There had to be more and there was something more, but I was guilty of trying to get it on my own.