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by Jacob Ninan
When we see the truth and and humble ourselves to submit to the truth, it leads us to freedom (Jn.8:32). But truth has many sides, and it is often true that people emphasise only one part and neglect others, with the result that the freedom that they obtain is also only in part.
In the matter of gaining victory over sin, one aspect which is generally stressed that it is through faith that we obtain the promises and overcome the world (He.6:12;1Jn.5:4). This is certainly true. If we do not believe that God does promise us victory, that it is possible for us to obtain victory through His grace, and that it is actually going to become true in our lives, then the battle is lost even before it begins. Since most people do not have faith for victory, it is really essential to preach victory and thus impart faith to those who hear. When faith comes into our hearts, it produces praise to God, and we are also protected from the fiery darts of the devil (Ep.6:16). Further, through faith we are enabled to go forth boldly into the battle against sin. This is called the good fight of faith (2Ti.4:7;1Ti.6:12). It is obvious that without faith it would be impossible to have the boldness to go into battle or to endure it. But just at this point, it should also become obvious that having faith is not the same as the battle itself. It is here that many are deceived. Having received faith for victory, they confess their hope publicly and praise God with a loud voice. But they do not take up the battle, and therefore they wait year after year, looking for a victory that never seems to come. Many finally give up their faith in victory altogether.
Paul says that he was made an apostle to bring about the OBEDIENCE of faith among all the nations (Ro.1:5). Faith by itself is not sufficient. There must be also an obedience to the things that we believe in. The works that accompany true faith are acts of obedience (Jas.2:17), in contrast to the works that are performed in order to find favour with God (Ep.2:8,9). It is by OBEDIENCE to the truth that we can purify our souls (1Pe.1:22), and it is by OBEDIENCE to the apostles' doctrines that we can become free from sin (Ro.6:17,18).
Having had it drilled into their minds that we cannot save ourselves apart from the grace of God, most evangelical Christians shrink back from any thought of having to DO anything themselves. But if only one could see it, the New Testament is full of commandments and instructions for us to obey. Jesus said that the man who heard His sayings and DID them was the wise man who built his house on the rock (Mt.7:24-27). He also said that the one who took care to keep even the least of the commandments and taught others to do likewise was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. We are also exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Php.2:12), to put to death the deeds of the body through the Spirit (Ro.8:13), and to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit (2Co.7:1), to mention but a few commandments found in the New Testament. Everyone who has the hope of seeing Jesus and becoming like Him purifies himself even as Jesus is pure (1Jn.3:3). In Re.19:7, we are told that the bride of Jesus has made herself ready.
Is it not because there is a different degree of faithfulness in each of us, in taking heed to these and similar exhortations, that there is also a a different degree of glory that we have partaken of? If the transformation of our personalities into the likeness of Christ depended only on God, without our having to do anything about it, then it would be quite partial of God to give more victory to some and less to others! How is it then then that there is quite an obvious difference among the believers even now on earth? The reason is clear - that the degree to which one shares in the sufferings of Christ, to that degree alone can he partake of His glory too (1Pe.4:12).
Jesus suffered death on the cross. Thus we receive the forgiveness of our sins and peace with God through faith. We don't have to die for our sins now. But Jesus also suffered through being tempted (He.2:18). This suffering came because He had to deny His own will in order to do the Father's will (Jn.6:38). This is the suffering in which we all must share if we are to partake of His life. And it is at this point that believers are not all equally faithful - in denying their own self and will.
The fight of faith is to deny the lusts that dwell in our flesh and to do the will of God and to remain in faith till it is accomplished. It is through a battle that we deny our own lusts. God cannot and will not do that for us - although He is ever ready to help us in the battle with all the power of His Spirit. We can cast out demons in a moment, in the name of Jesus. But the flesh cannot be cast off so easily. The flesh is not destroyed through the baptism in the Holy Spirit or through any other special experience. It has to be conquered, as we face each lust that arises from it to tempt us; we conquer through the grace (help) of God.
Daniel determined in his heart not to defile himself with the king's food and requested the king's officer to permit him not to eat that food. It was only then that God helped him by giving him favour in the sight of the officer (Da.1:8,9). It is only when we determine to take up the battle against our lusts that God gives us grace. He gives His Holy Spirit to those who who obey Him (Acts 5:32).
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