We cheat on our diets. Lose tempers with loved ones. Sabotage our own dreams. Neglect good friendships while chasing after relationships that will bring us pain and possibly shame. All the while, loathing ourselves for it. The Apostle Paul described it like this in Romans 7:24, “Oh wretched man that I am!…”
7:19 – “That which I hate, that do I…”
One of the most forceful arguments that the devil is alive and thriving on our planet is the fact that so many of the things we crave are the very things that will wipe us out, over the long term. We just seem to be pulled to things that are detrimental to our health, long term happiness, true success and spiritual well-being. That’s why you and I are faced with a daily struggle to beat temptation. Usually, the temptation to take the path of least resistance; to take the easy way out and to ignore the consequences that will spring from what we’re doing.
The battle that you and I find ourselves in is one that most people are losing – badly. Too many people in our society find themselves apparently unable to deal with the inner forces that seem to program them for self-destruction and failure. That’s why so many of our friends find themselves swept along by the anything-goes rip tide that at first gets people in over their heads – and then crashes them on the rocks of emptiness and despair. “The way of the transgressor is hard…” “The wages of sin is death…”
“Take up your cross daily and follow me…” I strive to have a conscience void of offense to ward God and man…”
The campaign to stop self-destructing has to be won every single day of our lives. Not just in the areas of our major goals, but even in the little things. It’s because ANYTHING worthwhile has a price. Years ago I read that “Heaven knows the right price to put on its goods.” That’s as true today as it ever was.
If you and I will walk close to God and follow the principles in the Word, we will have the strength and wisdom given to us so we can make it. We’ll understand the price of being a disciple…and the rewards that come as a consequence of walking with God.
If we’re walking according to spiritual laws rather than using carnal reasoning, we’ll become consistent in our actions. And, we’ll follow through on our decisions and commitments. We’ll do what’s right instead of what’s easiest at the moment.
If you and I are going to have positive and meaningful lives, we will HAVE to be consistent. Consistent in our relationships, in our moods and emotions, in our commitments to God, in our church involvement…in every area. That’s what the Bible calls “having a PATTERN of good works.”
Most of us have a pattern of false starts and unfulfilled promises. Here’s why: we listen to our darker side when it tells us to make exceptions to what we know we should or shouldn’t do. Then, we say, “I REALLY shouldn’t, but… We’ll, just this once!”
Right here is where the most sainted among us gets wiped out. We make an “exception” to our own rules and our own standards. There’s the ONE time we’ll take something that we have no right to have. The ONE “exception” to our rule of never repeating gossip. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?!
This is the way we end up DOING the things we hate to do and NOT doing the things we KNOW we should do. It’s as simple as giving in to exceptions. We set high standards, and then we allow ourselves to cave in or compromise when an “exception” comes up.
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes…” Pro. 21.12. Soon, the exception becomes the rule. We always have a reason why we can’t do the right thing instead of the easy thing. We mean well. We tell God that, tomorrow, we’ll be a lot better than we were today. Tomorrow, we’ll get back to our normal selves. It’s just today that we have this problem, and have to make an “exception”.
I’ve just described how easy it is to totally mess up a perfectly good life and a promising future. The only way to protect yourself from being ruined like this is to live by the rule of NO EXCEPTIONS. This is where you will need all the help you can get from Jesus. This is where you will need to draw all the strength you can through prayer and the Word.
We need to build up our resistance because there will always be someone who will come by to try to get you to make an exception “just this one time.”
This is the moment you HAVE to draw on every ounce of strength that’s in you. To be STRONG and tough it out. Be able to say, “NO.” And STICK WITH YOUR COMMITMENT.
You and I have to walk by faith instead of by our senses. Otherwise, we’ll make exceptions just because we’re “tired.” Or “lonely”. Or “down”. Or “not feeling too good.” Or “bored”.
Gal 6.7 – “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap…”
See, you can either play now and pay later or pay now and play later. It makes more sense to PAY now and PLAY later.
To get the rewards that God promises to those who will walk with Him by faith, we have to make it a personal creed to do the right thing whether or not we happen to feel like it at the moment. If we don’t FEEL like doing the right thing today, odds are that we won’t FEEL like it tomorrow either. So, do the right thing right NOW!
One way that the enemy wipes out multitudes of sincere people is by…
You can end up in the situation where you’re so far off track that it will take major help to get you back on! You get to where you’re already gone so far over the line that the next “exception” won’t make much difference anyway…You’ve already muffed it so bad, you might as well go all the way!
The making of exceptions is how we end up doing the very things that we loathe. So, how do we break the cycle?
It begins by understanding the Bible principle of salvation. Where Jesus came into your life while you were yet in sin (missing the target in life) and redeemed what was left – and strengthened the things that remained.
On days that you’ve blown it, instead of sinking deeper, you want to repent. You stop before you go from being all wet to crashing on the rocks. Even if you FEEL like one more transgression won’t hurt, you stop anyway. You change your mind and attitude. So, you turn around midstream. You salvage the day, instead of pushing further out from shore…and being lost at sea.
Now, we’ll explore MORE principles for pleasing God and living an upright life when most people are flat on their backs.
• The secret of salvaging bad days. ADMIT to yourself that you’ve already tolerated intolerable behavior. Just because you just drank a beer, or popped a pill, or over ate DOESN’T mean that whatever ELSE you do won’t count! Catch yourself before you go from bad to worse! No matter WHAT you tell yourself, going ahead and drinking another beer, popping another pill, taking ANOTHER bite DOES hurt.
No matter HOW bad you’ve blown it, doing more ISN’T going to make things any easier for you. But it WILL make things WORSE! Learn how to rescue your bad days. Anybody can do well on a GOOD day – only those who draw on the strength of God can move ahead on a bad day.
• You’ll learn three keys to being consistent.
1. Realize that EVERYTHING has a comeback. A result. An outcome. Is the outcome from what you’re doing something that you’ll feel comfortable with when it comes?
2. Understand that PAYING IN ADVANCE is the way to get anything worthwhile. The bad stuff you pay for later. GOOD STUFF YOU PAY FOR UPFRONT. BAD STUFF YOU PAY FOR AFTERWARDS.
3. FAST FORWARD YOUR LIFE – Use the “How will I feel about this in a month? A year? 5 years? 20 years? On the Judgement Day? Since tomorrow will definitely become today, you want to have sown the seeds for a good today.
The fast forward person will be likely to be moderate in eating habits. The inconsistent, live for how I feel right now person will be munching away at snack foods and junk.
The fast forward person will be reading and learning as much as possible about outcomes and results. The live for right now person will spend more time watching TV. A fast-forward person will be more likely to emphasize growing, producing, learning and working. The inconsistent person will emphasize relaxing and playing and recreation.
If you’re a fast forward person, when tomorrow becomes today, you’ll have a lot fewer problems than right now.
• You’ll learn how to make headway even when everything and everybody’s against you. This comes when you operate by PRINCIPLES rather than how you feel at the moment. Understand what produces the kinds of results you want in each area of your life, and stick to the principles that produce them.
No matter WHAT happens and WHAT other people are saying about you, you’ll be able to stick to your course and get the best of what God has planned for you, anyway.