Another Week, Another Struggle

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Monday gets a bad rap. I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever heard someone say “I love Mondays!” with a straight face and a sincere heart. Poor Monday. It’s not really that bad, is it?

For some people everyday is rotten. It’s just another day plugged with difficulties they can’t overcome, filled with temptations they can’t escape. There is an alternative to living under these kinds of  drudgery–giving your heart and life to Christ, receiving the forgiveness He purchased at the cross, and experiencing the abundant life He promised to those who follow Him (John 10:10). “Abundant” does not mean “trouble-free”, however. It literally means “super-abundant” or “superior”–a life that is superior to what can be had apart from Christ.

Paul explains in the New Testament book of Romans how it is possible to have this superior life. When we surrender our lives to Christ as our Savior and Lord, we become partakers of what He did at the cross–He literally took all of the sin of man upon Himself and was judged at the cross. Because of His death in our place (the theological term is substitutionary atonement), we have been set free from the bondage of sin. We like to think that we are free to live our lives however we want, but the reality is that sin controls and dominates us until we are set free through God’s forgiveness: “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:5-14). When Paul says that we as followers of Christ should consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God, what he means is that we now have a choice–we can choose to be unresponsive to sin and be fully obedient to God.

Do we still choose sin? Unfortunately, yes, because although the old nature has been superceded (“crucified with Christ”), we keep doing CPR on it. Like something from a zombie movie, our old nature just doesn’t seem to want to die. The good news is that we actually have a choice. The bad is–well, that we have a choice. Many of our struggles come from repeatedly making bad choices. Christ died to set us free from sin–why willingly go back to it?

I have a friend who served some time in prison. When he was released, he made a decision that he wasn’t going to do anything or be around anything that would get him sent back there. Why? Having experienced prison firsthand, he saw it for what it was. Having then experienced freedom again, he realized just how bad the bondage was and how awesome the freedom was. If you’re repeatedly finding yourself trapped in the same sin, understand that if you have surrendered your life to Christ and received His forgiveness for your sin that you are just throwing yourself back behind bars when you choose sin and rebellion.

Lean on Christ. Fall at His feet, and spend time with Him–in His Word, in prayer–and find that He will give you the grace you need to overcome. He may not take all of your problems away immediately, but He will help you to see them for what they are–stepping stones on your journey to Christ-likeness. As He suffered, so will we–the servant is not greater than the Master (Matthew 10:24), but rest assured that everything He allows into your life is going to work out for your ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

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