by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
I can to some extent control my acts. I have no direct control over my temperament. If what we are matters even more than what we do—if indeed if what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are—then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. —C.S. Lewis
The Bible tells us that there are two influential forces at work in the lives of us humans. There is the flesh, and then there is the Spirit. The flesh is our human nature under the controlling influence of human desire. The Spirit is the Spirit of God, under whose authority we are all subject. God created you and me as human beings with human desire. God did not intend for human desire to be impure and corrupt. However, since we are created with free will, and considering that we are not God, we are vulnerable to temptation in our flesh, and will give in to temptation and fall prey to sin. That, my friends, is a fact. Another fact is that our sin will kill and destroy us.
So God, in His infinite wisdom and compassionate grace, from the beginning has given us the way out through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” When under the controlling influence of the Spirit of Christ, we are able to access the power of God in our life in such a way as to be completely transformed into someone that willingly chooses to love God and serve Him. Under the influence of the Spirit of Christ we have been blessed immeasurably. So then, why don’t we live in the experience of immeasurable blessing , transcendent peace, and unspeakable joy—joy so amazing one cannot put it into words?
Even the Apostle Paul identified with this dilemma. He said on the one hand that he had learned the secret of being content (Philippians 4), while having discovered the principle of this life that he was miserable under the control of sin, stating that he was a slave to sin (Romans 7). Paul would go on to say that it is God’s grace that is sufficient in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12). He wrote quite a bit about the battle between flesh and Spirit (Romans 8). The ‘S’ in the word Spirit is capitalized since it refers to the Spirit of God in the person of Jesus Christ. The human spirit is still flesh consisting of both the strongest of desire and the full weight of its conscience. The frontal regions of the human brain that affects judgment and caution can be easily overrun by the influence of human desire and motivation. That is why Paul wrote that he tends to do what he does not want to do, and does not do the thing he wants to do. In other words, when as a servant of the Lord, he wants to do good and right, he inevitably does what is bad and wrong.
There is an Oprah Winfrey episode from 2005 with actress Tracy Gold. Tracy had been drinking at a barbeque with friends. When it was time to go, the decision had been made that Tracy would drive her husband and three sons home since her husband was too drunk to drive. At about the 20-minute mark on the ride home, Tracy lost control of the vehicle and it rolled several times down the embankment of the highway. The baby in the carseat was unhurt. Another son, had cuts and bruises. Her oldest son, sitting in the back of their SUV, was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a broken collarbone. Her drunken husband broke his neck. An officer was quoted as saying, “It was a horrific accident; it’s lucky no one was killed.”
It turns out that Tracy Gold’s Blood Alcohol Content was twice the legal limit in the State of California. She’d been drinking here and there for five hours and still had at least four drinks in her system at the time of the accident. Tracy said to Oprah (paraphrasing), “You always say to listen to your inner voice. I obviously was impaired. I don’t drink and drive. Had I listened to my inner voice I would not have drove that night.”
I contend that Tracy Gold did listen to her inner voice. There lies the problem. Tracy said that she does not drink and drive. She knew she was impaired. Intellectually, she knew not to drive. In her conscience she knew not to drive. However, it was her deepest desire that ultimately had the greatest influence over her decision to drive even though it’s safe to say she had at least 8-10 drinks that night (she’d likely metabolized five by the time she had tested positive for alcohol). She knew not to drink and drive, yet she risked the lives of her husband and children as she rolled her vehicle down a hill. It was her inner voice—her self-centered ‘me’dom desire that insisted that it would be too much of an inconvenience to find another option to get home that night. It would be embarrassing to her and to her children to have a cab roll up after the party. It would be a hassle to go back to get the vehicle the next day.
Tracy Gold was under the influence of alcohol, but even more than that, she was under the influence of her own self-centered desires and motives. The point here is that we must understand that our inner voice is selfishly corrupt wanting what we do not have and wanting more of what we do have. Under its influence we continually give in to its power. Look at what James writes about it.
“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” James 3:16
We are under the controlling influence of our inner voice. Our inner voice is not only selfish, it’s ruthless. The saying that we hurt the ones we love the most is true. Tracy Gold and her husband risked their children’s lives that night. Alcoholics and drug addicts will sacrifice their families to get high. Adulterers will risk their marriages and families to get the high of immediate sexual gratification. Spouses will yell and abuse one another, even in front of their children to get that high of immediate gratification that comes from raising one’s voice (increased dopamine and serotonin levels).
As families, we argue and fight with each other until we get what we want. Our inner voice convinces us that we can and will get what we want if we fight hard enough for it. When as a parent you try to tell your child, “You think that is what you want (immediate but small picture) but that’s not really what you want (big picture),” you are trying to persuade your child that what they think they want is the lie told to them by their inner voice.
Later on down the road, when the child sees life more clearly having experienced bumps in the road—sometimes severe and brutal; they will realize that what they thought they wanted they never wanted, really, now that they know what they know now. But until our kids see things more clearly, instead of listening to you, your kids will heed the passion of their inner desires and leadings of their inner voice, make foolish decisions, and pay the price.
“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:1-3
This truth was articulted so well by Pastor Fran Leeman (LifeSpring Community Church, Plainfield, IL) when he spoke of how, when we pray, we tend to think we know what we want and pray to be blessed according to what we want. The best of God’s blessing in our lives comes from when we come to completely trust Him and seek to be blessed as He sees fit for us. What do you believe about God—really believe about God? Do you pray, asking God to bless you with everything He wants and has for you, according to His purposeful plan for you?
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” James 4:5
There are differences in how this Scripture is translated. I chose the New King James Translation since it makes my point. It is obvious that the human spirit, or inner voice, is full of envy and lust and by nature is in conflict with its maker. If, when considering the NKJV translation, we are able to comprehend, to the extent that we can, that the Spirit of Christ alive in us “yearns jealously” for you and for me to be in the kind of relationship with Him that we submit ourselves under the influence of His authority, He can and will bless us immeasurably. You parents out there yearn jealously for your children. You yearn for your kids to heed your teachings and to do and be what proves to be provident and prosperous long-term in the big picture. We need to let God be at work in transforming our inner voice by rearranging how are brains work (Romans 12:1-2). God promises to take us where only He can, beyond even our wildest imagination. If only we would trust God and the leading of His voice, instead of being led by the nose listening to our inner voice speaking on behalf of our lustful, greedy, covetous, and even vengeful passions and desires.
The kind of transformative work that God wants to do in our life is beyond what we would even think to want or ask for. Even when God helps us out of difficulty and pain He wants to do in us so much more, for our benefit. I have included here a passage from C.S. Lewis, from his book “Mere Christianity”. Let the revelation and power within this passage sink in and resonate with you as he elaborates on Christ’s words when He said, “Be ye perfect”.
Some people tend to think this means, “Unless you are perfect, I will not help you”; and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think he did mean that. I think He meant, “The only help I give is help to become perfect. You may want less, but I will give you nothing less.” Let me explain. When I was a child I often had a toothache, and I knew if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother—at least not until the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt that she would give the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would make me go to the dentist the next morning. I could get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain, but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists. I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache.
When you live under the influence of Jesus Christ in your life He is like the dentist. When you are submitted to the transformed life under His influence, God will go beyond the place in your life that aches. He will “fiddle about with all sorts of other teeth” because He knows that these are places that need His touch or they will become even more infected until you cannot move because of the pain and difficulty. What God does is take the things that are old and dying, and transforms them into something new and full of life, beyond what you even know to want for yourself.
C.S. Lewis (“Mere Christianity”) borrows a parable from author, George McDonald, and wrote the following:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew these jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage; but He is building a palace. He intends to come in and live in it Himself.
The command “Be ye perfect” is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do something impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command… If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21
When the day comes that you and I actually get this, there is no telling the extent to which we can experience God’s full blessing personally, in our families, churches, communities, and nations. This is the essence of ‘me’dom recovery and to truly experience freedom. Do you know God today—I mean, really know Him? As we let go of what we cannot control (Admit), come to fully know God (Believe), and submit to the controlling influence of His Spirit (Commit), we will be transformed and renewed; re-energized in the experience of His immeasurable blessing, transcendent peace, and unspeakable joy.
Take a few minutes and pray that God reveals to you the truth of what you have just read, and that He empowers you to let go, believing that you can make it, with the courage to do what He communicates to your will to do.
Work out your own salvation (recovery) with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12b-13 (NKJV)