Ask Donnell - How Do I Get Lasting Change In My Life?

Ask Donnell - How Do I Get Lasting Change In My Life?

This blog is a continuation from yesterday; "The Importance of The Holy Spirit."

We received the following question from K;

"Hi Donnell,

This may be a little long however I want to be honest……. these past few months I have been loose in my Christian walk, not that I don’t know better but some how it overwhelms me and I just give in to as we know it “a life of sin!”. I want to be better, do better, live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to GOD but I cant understand why do I always go back to my vomit… why do I experience GOD’s presence and goodness and still walk away and head in the direction of destruction? why is it so easy for me to walk away? the truth is when I am obedient to GOD I am at my happiest, there is a joy that I cant explain but I still give up and give in and then there is a depression and emptiness within me. I know its only GOD can fill me but i still go off course. i still risk it all just to please the flesh. i have been watching the gospel channels on cable and one really struck out to me when i heard someone in the movie literally say my name and tears came to my eyes. i don’t want to continue to go through emotions but i want real and lasting change. all the messages coming to me via the movies are “death to self”…… i don’t quite understand what that means or the requirement(s) of such…. what does it really mean by “death to self”????

thanks for listening….."

Wow K, thanks for keeping it real. That's an "Ask Jesus" question so let's submit it to Him. There's no better place to get His answer than His Word. So many of us are dealing with real struggles and need God to intervene. Thankfully, you are brave enough to admit it and seek help. That's a step in the right direction and a bolder step than most.

Anyway, instead of repeating myself, you can start by reading these three recent blogs; "A New Heart-Set: Returning To Your First Love", "How Do I Respond To Strong Temptation?" and "What Does It Mean To Take Up My Cross Daily?" So much has been said already that we will use those blogs as the foundation for today. They basically answer most of your questions. All the practical steps are in there. Today, let's simply go a little deeper on the spiritual side. After you've done all you practically know to do if you still don't see results it's time to take it to the next level. Let's go there today.

Romans 7:14-25(NLT) - So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

You see, the struggle with sin is all too familiar. It is in the fallen human nature to sin as a direct result of what Adam and Eve did in The Garden of Eden. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to think they can beat sin on a mental level. In other words, some people believe they can just think their way out of temptation. Unfortunately, they are deceived and have no idea how strong the pull of sin is in their lives.

"No, I don't have a drug problem. I can stop anytime. No, I don't have a lust problem. I can stop anytime. No, I don't have a pride problem. I can just will myself to humility. No, I don't have a selfishness problem. No, I don't have an anger problem. No, I don't have a drinking problem. No, I don't have a sin problem. I just need to do it a couple more times and get it out my system then I'll stop. Honest, if I really want to I can stop. So why haven't I stopped yet? Ummmm.. I don't know. Maybe I do have a problem after all." 🙁

As The Apostle Paul said, the answer is in Jesus Christ! It's not in your mind. The problem is in your mind. The solution is not! You'll never be able to figure your way out of the struggle with sin. It doesn't matter what you try in your own strength. The power to defeat sin lies in Jesus Christ and there is a way to access that power when you need it. Apostle Paul outlined the problem in Romans 7 and then outlined the solution in Romans 8. He couldn't have made it any clearer. Let's dig in.

Romans 8:1-14(NLT) - So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So let's pull some key "truths" out of this passage. The first is that if you are in Christ Jesus you should not condemn yourself. Yes, you are facing a struggle but self-condemnation is not the answer. Jesus already died for your sin and you just need to ask for forgiveness according to 1 John 1:9. Not only that, but Jesus broke the hold of sin on your life. Therefore, it's a trick of the enemy to make you believe that you cannot escape sin.

It's really a stronghold in your mind and nothing else. You think you can't escape yet the prison doors are unlocked. The answer is in the power of The Holy Spirit whom Jesus Christ sent to earth when He returned to heaven. That's right, the power of The Holy Spirit is the power to live right. Of all the qualities and characteristics of The Holy Spirit this may be the most important one yet it's hardly ever mentioned.

So many people are filled with The Holy Spirit and can speak in tongues, prophesy, dream dreams, see visions and lay hands on the sick yet they just can't seem to live right. The same spirit who gives us the power to do all of those things has given us the power to live right. Maybe we don't know that and that's why we have left such amazing power untapped. Well, that ends today. Let's reveal how The Holy Spirit gives us the strength to live like Christians. The first two are quoted directly from my book, The Mysterious Kingdom Of Heaven.

Ask Donnell - How Do I Get Lasting Change In My Life?

How The Holy Spirit Gives Us The Power To Live Right!

1) The Spirit of Reverential Fear of The Lord

Jeremiah 32:40(AMP) - And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will not turn away from following them to do them good, and I will put My [reverential] fear in their hearts, so that they will not depart from Me.

The Spirit of Reverential Fear of The Lord places a sense of awe in the hearts of people. This is typically what we mean when we say “fear the Lord.” The Amplified Bible expounds on the fear of The Lord and divides it into two parts but this first one is the most familiar. According to Jeremiah 32:40, God can put His reverential fear in our hearts so that we won't depart from Him. In other words, by no power of our own, by giving us The Spirit of Reverential Fear we can be so blown away by His awesomeness that it's impossible for us to walk away. Thank God!

Luke 1:59-65(AMP) - And it occurred that on the eighth day, when they came to circumcise the child, they were intending to call him Zachariah after his father, But his mother answered, Not so! But he shall be called John. And they said to her, None of your relatives is called by that name. And they inquired with signs to his father [as to] what he wanted to have him called. Then Zachariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, His name is John. And they were all astonished. And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak, blessing and praising and thanking God. And awe and reverential fear came on all their neighbors; and all these things were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.

Throughout the scriptures, people have seen the Hand of God in situations and responded with reverential fear. In Luke 1, the miraculous birth of John the Baptist was recorded. After years of asking God for their first child, an angel appeared to his father, Zachariah with a message from God about John. He didn't believe at the moment and was made dumb until the eighth day when his son was to be circumcised and given a name. Elizabeth, his wife, broke tradition by calling her son John. An angel told Zachariah the same thing earlier, so when he agreed with the name, people were astonished. At that moment, he miraculously received his voice again and declared God's goodness. Consequently, all who witnessed those dramatic events were gripped with reverential fear.

Acts 2:43(AMP) - And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers).

The best example of The Spirit of Reverential Fear of The Lord took place soon after The Holy Spirit was poured out beyond measure and the early church was formed. He manifested Himself as such and all who received Him had a sense of awe or reverential fear. In this way, The Bible describes one of the clearest depictions of this specific representation of The Holy Spirit and distinguishes it from every other. This is good news for all Christians because it means that even when we struggle to show honor and respect for God by our actions, The Spirit of Reverential Fear can spur us to do so.

2) The Spirit of Obedient Fear of The Lord

Isaiah 1:19-20(NKJV) - If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

God knows how to get people to obey Him. Isaiah 1:19-20 shows us why that's a good thing. Many of the precious promises we all desire are expressly connected to our obedience to God's directions. We can pray, fast, declare scriptures, bind and loose spirits but if we do not obey God we're wasting our time. As a young Christian, my father taught me that the answers to our prayers are sometimes wrapped in a set of instructions from God. If we follow them without question we'll see the full manifestation. If we don't, we'll continue to wonder what happened to our prayers.

John 16:7-15(NKJV) - Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

When Jesus told His disciples about the coming of The Holy Spirit in John 16:7-15, He gave a concise description of what they could expect. They knew that when He came He would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. This is crucial to the development of a Christian because conviction is a major asset for obedience. Hence, I believe that when The Spirit of Obedient Fear of The Lord comes upon us He helps us to live right by convicting our hearts when we choose to do wrong.

One of the realities we all must accept is the fallen nature of our humanity. Pride sometimes deceives us to think that we're good people by ourselves. That's what causes us to make excuses for sin and not reject it like we should. We think we're good people so we convince ourselves that a little sin every now and then can't be that bad. As the Spirit of Truth, The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and tells us what The Lord really thinks about the thoughts of our hearts. When He enters our lives He is our conscience.

Galatians 5:16-18(NLT) - So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

Do you hear when The Holy Spirit speaks? Do you do what you hear? Whether or not you follow His lead can make or break your battle against sin. It's time for you to allow The Holy Spirit to take control of your mind and heart. Stop fighting a battle against sin that you have already won in the spirit and can never win on your own in the natural. Here is one practical step you can take that will help you tap into the power to live right and experience lasting change.

3) Develop Relationships With Spirit-Filled People Who Will Hold You Accountable.

Hebrews 10:24-29(NLT) - Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.

Christian people are supposed to motivate each other to live right. You're never supposed to struggle on your own. That's why God expects us to spend time meeting together and encouraging each other. The Holy Spirit in you will connect with The Holy Spirit in me and can bring correction when I start to drift out of line. Pay close attention to what happens when Christians physically or emotionally isolate themselves from other Christians.

They get caught up in willful, habitual sin and can't escape it on their own. As they smother the voice of The Holy Spirit in their own hearts they are unable to hear from The Lord. Additionally, since they don't have support or accountability they don't allow The Holy Spirit in someone else to speak the truth into their lives. Sadly, only the truth will make them free. Don't fall into that trap. Always have at least one spirit-filled person in your life who can help you win over your struggles. Don't go it alone.

Without accountability it's hard to do anything right. It's just not in our human nature to do what's right if we don't have to answer to anybody. The Holy Spirit will change your heart but you need accountability to keep you from going back to old ways because it's just too easy to slip. Ask God to show you the person He's placed in your life that you can trust to be His voice when you don't hear Him in your own heart. You make the decision to change. God changes you. Accountability keeps you from going back.

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