The Reality of the Struggle

God Allows Struggles In Life So We Will Lean On Him More

Tim Lundy
May 15, 2022    42m
God allows us to face struggles in life so that we will learn to lean on Him instead of relying on ourselves. Although our salvation in Christ is complete, it is also a process. When I try to do it in my own strength, I'll never get there, but with God in my life, all things are possible. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:36] Well, good morning, Venture. Before we dive into the message, I wanted to take just a minute and just spend some time in prayer. So will you pray with me?

Tim Lundy: [00:00:46] Father, we come before you, and we thank you that we can just sing those words that you are Jireh, that you are more than enough. Lord, we recognize how much we need you. Father, I confess just a certain weariness at a soul level when I see all that's going on in the world, a weariness with so much division, so much hurt. Lord, when I see this ongoing war in Ukraine and the devastation there, we pray for resolution, for peace, and for this to end. Lord, we grieve this morning with the people in Buffalo, and just this shooting that has happened and to see the hatred connected around it. Lord, we pray for the eradication of racism in our country in our time, we pray for the eradication of these violent acts. Lord, we find ourselves weary with it, and I can only imagine how much it pains your heart when you created all people, and you love all people and you came to redeem all people. Lord, we thank you that even in our weariness with what's going on in the world, we can rest in you. We thank you for how your word speaks to us, comforts us, and changes us. And Lord, even as we come into a passage, I confess, maybe my greatest weariness is with me, with the struggles within me, and I just thank you that you do not give up on us, ghat you're the God who's made a promise that he who began a good work will complete it, and we long for that completion, even today. We pray these things in Christ's name. Amen.

Tim Lundy: [00:02:49] Well, if you have your Bibles, or even if you don't have your Bibles, I'm going to ask everyone to turn in a Bible. Either on your phone, pull up the app, or the Bible you brought with us, or use one of the blue ones right in front of you, everybody. One of the things we're doing in this series of Romans, it's just there's power in reading this together, and I think there's visual power. Some of our brains work differently, your brain actually will connect with things by actually looking over it in a way more than you realize. So pull it up to Romans Chapter 7, if you're using the Blue Bible in the room, it's page 1121.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:25] We're going to read one of the most encouraging passages in all of the Bible, as we read in the book of Romans chapter 7, starting at verse 14, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

Tim Lundy: [00:05:01] Now again, I began this by saying this is one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible. And you go, Tim, where are you finding the encouragement there? Here's why I would say this is one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible to me because when I read it, everything in me goes, oh, I'm not alone, I'm not the only one, somebody else struggles with this, too. And then I step back and I go, Oh, the person writing this may be the greatest of all the apostles, he wrote more books in the New Testament, and he writes with this rawness and this honesty of this struggle with sin. He writes in such a raw way that the theologians and interpreters have debated, I mean, is he writing this as a Christian? Is he writing this maybe as an unbeliever, some kind of put it and say, well, he's writing it? There was a stage in his life where he struggled in this way. And yet I look at it, we're in this section of Romans where Paul's walking us through this part of the gospel, this part of salvation, of what does it mean to live this out? What does it mean to live as a follower of Jesus and to be changed by this gospel? And he talks about a very real struggle that I don't care who you are, how long you've walked with Jesus, if we're all honest with ourselves, there are parts of you that, as I read through it, you go, Yeah, I identify with that exactly. The struggle is very real.

Tim Lundy: [00:06:44] Just to give you a little bit of an overview, and we want to, as we're walking through the book, just teach a little bit of the theology behind it. As you look at this, what he's describing is our salvation in Christ, it's complete, but it's also in process. There are parts of it we've been reading in Romans where it's done, it's finished, it's complete, I was saved. But then you get to these parts, and you go, wait, what is going on in this ongoing process? Theologians use three kinds of big words around salvation. The first one is justification, the second one is sanctification, and the third one is glorification. We kind of put the 'ication' on there to make it sound really formal, if you look at the beginning of it, justify, sanctify, glorify.

Tim Lundy: [00:07:27] And so justify, this means that I was completely forgiven and Christ. Romans 1 to 5, we looked at that, how everyone needed this, none of us turned to God in it. But through faith in Christ, we've been declared righteous, we've been made right, and I was completely forgiven. Every sin I ever committed, and here's the other part of it, or will commit has been forgiven and Christ, it's done.

Tim Lundy: [00:07:59] Now go to the other end of the spectrum, glorification, one day I'm going to be completely changed with Christ. And so when you think of glorification, just look at that word, glory. We describe heaven as a place of glory, we'll see the glory of God. And so one day I'm going to stand in front of Jesus, and every part of me is going to be completely changed, my mind, my heart, my will, and my body will be completely changed, it's done completely.

Tim Lundy: [00:08:27] And so both of these things are complete. Now, in the middle of it is this word, sanctification, or sanctified means to be set apart, and this is the process of becoming like Christ. Now, the interesting thing we're going to see in Romans 8, God is going to say that everybody that he justified will end up being glorified, but all of us are in this process of being changed to look like him, and it's a process, and it's a struggle, and the struggle is real. And we've looked at the last couple of weeks, Paul's warned us of two different ways, two ditches that you can get in in this journey, in this process. Remember, we likened it like you're on the road? And so sanctification is like on this road, I've been justified, I'm completely forgiven, I know I'm going to be glorified, and so now I'm on the road. And kind of two ditches that you can get in, remember, we looked at one that was kind of the golden ticket Christianity, the ditch that says basically, if I've been justified and I'm going to be glorified, I'm just not going to worry about this part of the process. Just do what you want to do and sin, grace will cover it, you're going to get there one day. And Paul goes, are you kidding me? Why would you want to live that way? Don't you know sin is robbing you of all the goodness of this life? Why would you ever have that attitude? Now the other ditch, and we looked at it the last time in Romans, is rulebook Christianity. It's where if I follow enough rules, even God's law, and I keep it hard enough, man, then I'm going to be changed. And as Paul walked out, he goes, you can't keep the rules enough. In fact, you're still typing on a typewriter in this Old Covenant, when he wants you to type on a computer and experience all of the word processing of the New Covenant, of this inside-out transformation.

Tim Lundy: [00:10:20] And so he's laid it out, you don't want to be in either ditch, we're on this road of sanctification. And then he comes to this part in Romans 7 when you would think, okay, if I avoid the ditches, life is going to be easy, isn't it? And Paul goes, let me tell you how hard it really is, let me tell you about part of the struggle and the reality of it, and we have this section of Romans Chapter 7. Now, the reason that the struggle is real is we have real enemies. I mean, this process of struggle is we battle a real enemy. Scripture talks about three enemies that don't want you to succeed in this journey.

Tim Lundy: [00:10:58] And the first enemy, I mean, we know the spiritual forces, and this would be Satan, this would be all of the angels that rebelled against God. They're under condemnation, so they want every one of us to be under condemnation as well. And so they never want you to experience the life that's in Christ and do everything possible to sabotage it, to tempt you, to keep you from experience what life's all about.

Tim Lundy: [00:11:23] A second enemy is the world's system. And again, it's not talking about the physical universe. God created the universe, but it's talking about the system that's aligned against God, the culture that can go in all different directions with that.

Tim Lundy: [00:11:37] Here's the third enemy, though, and notice in our passage, Paul never mentions these two. He says, man, we're in this struggle, but he never mentions Satan. He doesn't say it's because of this bad world system out there, maybe the worst enemy of all is my own flesh. I found the enemy and he's me, that I keep sabotaging me more than anyone else. Notice there is not one part in that passage where Paul says, man, I wanted to obey God, but the devil made me? Ooh that devil There's not one part in the passage where he goes, oh, man, I wanted to obey God, but I have this world system. Have you seen? Have you been on Twitter lately? Have you seen how corrupt this world is? He never talks about those two, does he? He goes, let me tell you the enemy that is fighting me, it's my own flesh. Now again, that term flesh can be a little confusing because Scripture uses it in different ways. Sometimes it's used to talk about the physical body itself. Paul's not saying your physical body is bad, he's not saying like you got this good spiritual part of you and then this bad physical body. When he uses this term flesh, you look at it, what he's talking about, he's talking about that it's mind, the body, the spirit, all of it, apart from Jesus, it's the totality of that sinful nature.

Tim Lundy: [00:13:08] And these three enemies are working all the time. Look at how in Ephesians, he writes, 'You were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world." So he's talking about that world system that's the aligned against God, "You were following the prince of the power of the air." That's another term for Satan. So you were under the control of the world system, you were under the control of Satan's system, "That is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." So this flesh carries out the desires, notice it's of body and of mind, it's all of who I am aligned against God.

Tim Lundy: [00:13:56] And Paul says, there was a time period where you had no choice in it, of course, you live like everybody else in the world. Of course, you are under the control of the prince of the power there. Of course, you just kept the passions of your flesh. But because of Christ, for by grace you've been saved through faith, God's redeemed us out of that. But in that journey of that redemption, remember, he's justified me, I'm going to be glorified. But while I'm on that journey, man, I'm still battling this flesh, this sinful nature, this part of me. And I love the way he puts it, do you ever have this feeling where you know what you're supposed to do, and I just don't want to do it? Does anybody else ever feel that? Okay, good, some honest people here. And then you reverse it, you know what you're not supposed to do, and I just want to do it. Does anybody else feel that? Yeah. Do you know what that is? That's the flesh, that's the battle, that's that struggle that he's talking about, where I'm my own worst enemy. And sometimes the struggle runs so deep in the battle runs so deep, it can feel like it overwhelms us. When Paul says that he goes, wretched man that I am, wretched woman that I am. Man, do you feel that in your bones at times?

Tim Lundy: [00:15:32] Now, as I say this, I want to back up for just a minute because I want to make sure it's really clear on this part. Because sometimes we get into this battle and we define our whole Christian life by it, and some of you are in this battle and you're battling against something that runs really deep in you. And it has so defined it, you almost run with fear all the time that maybe I'm not God's child, maybe I've done too much, maybe I'm going to cross the line.

Tim Lundy: [00:16:07] Here's what I want you to make sure you recognize where we are in it. This is a daily battle, but it's in a war that Christ has already won. It's a battle and the battle is real, but the war has been won, Jesus won the war. Now as I'm battling it, I'm dealing with it, you know, one of the best images of it, I go back to World War Two. You know, at the end of World War Two, especially when Japan ended the war and declared in a treaty with the United States that the war was over in August of 1945. And yet on many of the islands of Japan or in Asia, Japanese territories, there were soldiers who refused to surrender. For years, they kept fighting, and so allied forces, other forces, and local police departments at times had to come together to try to root out these soldiers to go, this war is over, but it was a real battle.

Tim Lundy: [00:17:07] In fact, it was fascinating to me. The last soldier, the last verified holdout who surrendered, was Private Torero Nakamura. And he finally surrendered, he was on Moro Tail Island in Indonesia, he surrendered in December of 1974, 30 years, he kept fighting. Now, as you look at it, each of those fights, each of those battles, they were real, they're real fights. And the reason they fought is, man, we need to retake this island, we need to retake this place, because the war has been won. And actually, man, there is money, there's freedom, there's liberty, there are things that could come, that this place could flourish. but we got to root out someone who's still fighting an old battle.

Tim Lundy: [00:18:05] It's a great picture of what's going on in our lives. Guy's Jesus has won the war for you. Jesus paid it off for you, everybody that he justified, he will glorify, every single one of them. Now you may be fighting a real battle even today, some of you, maybe you're fighting something in your life, and you go, man, it feels like it's consuming me, it feels like it's winning. And here's the problem with that enemy Satan, do you know what he likes to do? He will tempt you in one ear and then condemn you and the other. In one moment, he'll tempt you, you ought to do this, you ought to do this, and your flesh goes, yeah, I ought to do that. And then as soon as you do it, you know what he whispers in your other ear? I can't believe you did that. You're a good Christian? You know, good Christians don't do that. Well, maybe you aren't a Christian, maybe you ought to think about it. He does it, he plays both sides of the fence, guys. And some of you, you live in that all the time. you live in the fear of it all the time, that maybe I'm not a good Christian. Can we just retire that term, there are no good Christians, we're only good because of Jesus? And so trying to live up to something that, like, I've got to be good enough, that's trying to live up to the fact that I've got to win the war, he won the war. When Jesus declared it is finished, it was finished for all of you. The moment he forgave you, he didn't just forgive the sins up to that moment, he forgave the sins for the rest of your life.

Tim Lundy: [00:19:44] That's why John tells us, I love this verse, "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world." You're an overcomer whether you feel like one or not. this is the victory that has overcome the world. What's our victory? It's our faith. Not because, man, we're so strong, not because we overcame, "Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" It's because we've received the victory that he won, that we experience it in our life as well. And just again, I say this because I'll talk to Christians who have been Christians for years, who live under a lot of fear in this, that you have a real struggle going on in your life, and there's this fear that maybe it's too much, maybe God's done with me, maybe my salvation wasn't real, all these different parts. Hear me, do you believe today that Jesus Christ is a son of God. that he died for your sins, that he rose again. and in that belief, he has completely forgiven you, then you're an overcomer. Now you're in the battle, but it's a battle in a war that Jesus has already won for you and for me.

Tim Lundy: [00:21:11] Now as we're in that battle, look at it the next point, the process of this battle always involves a no to the old and a yes to the new. So Paul says, man, I've got my flesh, there's this sinful part of me, my mind, my heart, my spirit, all of it that doesn't want to do what God wants to do, and it's there, and it's real, and it flares up, and it really makes decisions in that. And then I've got this new, the part that's been redeemed in me, that is completely changed by Christ, and I feel the battle between the two of them. And if you read through especially Paul's writings, he'll use it in different metaphors, and different ways, of the process of this battle, is always a no and a yes.

Tim Lundy: [00:21:50] And so as you look at it, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.", back in Romans 6, he said it this way. Look at the no in this, "Don't let sin reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." Do you see the no and the yes there? He says, don't present your body to the old master, don't give in to this old voice and this old nature, you've got you, are you presenting yourself here? Or now, here's the yes of it, are you actively presenting yourself to God? Are you actively engaging who he is? There is a no and a yes.

Tim Lundy: [00:22:39] Look how he puts it in Colossians, a little bit different way. He says, "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." So it's again, it's a no and yes, it's a different metaphor though, he describes it as kind of like clothes, are you taking off that old clothes and putting on the new. You always have to have both of them, by the way, it's not just one or the other. He says there's a no to this and a no to this and a yes to this.

Tim Lundy: [00:23:10] Look how he puts it here in Galatians, and he's describing in Galatians it's not just saying no to the old, but it's also saying yes to the third member of the Trinity who's actively working in our life. He says, "I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." And so he describes it in Galatians, we'll look further in Galatians, how he describes this, I'm saying no to this flesh, this desires of the flesh, and I'm saying yes to the Holy Spirit.

Tim Lundy: [00:23:53] Now I say that because you've got to have both of them all the time, it's not a one or the other. Especially, and this is what we often do, especially when we turn into rule book Christianity, man, everything becomes about the no. In fact, all we focus on is the no. And if you're struggling with the sin, you can get to where your whole life is just don't do that, don't do that, don't do that. Or sometimes with our kids we can be bad about that is just don't, don't, don't. Now, here's the problem, if you only have the no, that's all you'll end up thinking about. I mean, right now, let's just practice this, I want everybody in this room whatever you do, don't think about a pink elephant. Now, listen to me, no pink elephants, don't think about a pink elephant. Don't, don't think about a pink elephant. Now, what is everybody thinking about? Yeah, they're running through your brain right now. And that's the same thing when we reduce it all just to a don't Christianity.

Tim Lundy: [00:25:05] I mean, we look at our kids and teenagers, don't have sex, don't have sex, sex bad, don't, don't, don't. I wonder what they're thinking about if we didn't also turn and go, man, what's the yes on this that God wants you to experience? What's the yes in this season of life, what's the yes in the future in what God's doing? So in Scripture, you'll always see these two together, it's never just the oh, don't do that. In every book, and Paul especially will always go, yeah, oh, man, you're going to have to say no to something, but then there's this yes to what Christ is doing. And the yes isn't just like don't do that, but then you have to do these rules, it's more the yes, notice what he said, yes to the Spirit, yes to who Christ is, yes to this whole way of life of understanding him.

Tim Lundy: [00:26:02] I've described it before, but I think Ken Shigematsu, when he uses the illustration from Greek mythology, is such a great picture of this, of two different ways of approaching it. You know, in Greek mythology, there was a whole legend of the sirens. Have you ever heard the siren song? And the sirens were these beautiful women that lived on this island, in some stories, they were mermaids with it. And if you sailed near their island, they would sing this beautiful, enticing song, that as sailors heard it, they couldn't help but be attracted to it. And they looked over at these beautiful women, and they would sail to the island, and before they got there, they would wreck on the shoals, and then the sirens would kill them and plunder everything they had, it's a pretty gruesome story. In two different Greek mythologies, in one story, Odysseus, remember, he did the long journey? Odysseus as he was sailing by the Sirens Island, his way of handling it was he put wax in the ears of all of his crew, but he actually wanted to hear the song. So he had his sailors tie him to the mast of the ship, and as I sailed by it, and the siren song went, man, the sailors were unaffected by it, but Odysseus was literally driven mad with desire. Everything in him just wanted it, but the ropes kept him from going there. Now in another story, Jason and the Argonauts. Jason chose a totally different approach, because he needed to sail by the Island of the Sirens, but he took with him Orpheus. And it was said that when Orpheus played his harp, there was nothing more beautiful in all the world. And so as they sailed by, the sirens were singing their song, and it was certainly attractive, but as Orpheus played, as he was there with them on the ship, the beauty of the music there was so much more attractive than anything the sirens could offer, that they sailed by.

Tim Lundy: [00:28:09] I think it's a great picture as we think about this struggle, because some of you, you're trying to do it the Odysseus way. That man there's that siren song, and sin attracts me, but if I put enough rules in place and I strap myself down enough, I just won't do it, and it's a pretty miserable way to live. What Scripture is offering here is, what if life with Jesus, and as I start discovering how beautiful that life is, as I spend time with him, as I know him, as I know his desires for me, what if that changes us? What if the attraction of that, that's the yes? The yes isn't just more rules, the yes is actually Jesus himself, the yes is the Holy Spirit who's literally chosen to live with you, and be with you, and encourage you, and comfort you, and convict you, and lead you, and help you understand the Bible more. That's the yes, that makes all the difference in this process.

Tim Lundy: [00:29:16] And I would just encourage you, as you think about this process of the two, as we do that together, that it's learning how to do that together in community, it's learning how to do it in a way part of the yes is that I'm not going to live in the shame anymore either. See the old flesh tells me, man, you've got to hide this, you can't tell anyone, if anybody knows this about you...That's why I love that Paul writes this so graphically. Paul says, man, you need to know this about me, and I'm the Apostle Paul. Why? Because I'm going to bring this out, part of the yes is I bring this out into the light, into the community, so that people can know me, so that they can help me as I'm making this process between the no and the yes.

Tim Lundy: [00:30:01] One of the reasons this next coming weekend, we're hosting the conference, Living in Sexual Integrity. Because frankly, for some of you this process, especially when it's connected to anything sexual, is so shaming, and we so hide it. And you know what the three enemies will tell you? The world, the world will tell you, oh, don't worry about it, what's a little pornography? Well, that's a little, you're just acting out in your sexuality. Satan will tempt you and then he'll condemn you. And you know what your flesh will tell you? Your flesh is going to tell you, I've got to hide this at all costs. You got to say no to that, and part of that no is going I'm not going to keep doing the same pattern because nothing's changing here. And I'm just encouraging, and we've invited everyone because it's such a good conference for anyone to be aware of just how do you deal with these issues, experts that speak into it? But I want to say this specifically, some of you, man, you're dealing with this in your life, you're dealing with pornography, you've got a spouse that's dealing with it, you feel trapped in it, it's impacting your home, it's impacting your marriage. And you keep telling yourself, man, I'm going to pray my way through it and I'm going to get over it on my own. That's not going to work, and so part of the no is, you know what, I'm not going to do that anymore, I'm not going to live in the shame, I'm not going to hide. I'm actually going to come and learn from people and connect with others who are on this journey with me, in the fight with me, and live in the light together so that you can experience some change in it. And even as I say it now, some of you, you need to sign up, you need to be there next Saturday. And I just encourage you, if it's you, if it's your spouse, if it's someone you know, stop by, I think at the Hub, they'll have representatives that can help sign you up for the conference. But we do these kinds of things because we actually believe in this process, we actually believe in the beauty of what Christ does, and we've seen that redemption, we've seen that change, we've seen people experience it in every area of life, and you can experience it, too.

Tim Lundy: [00:32:09] Now, as I say that, I just encourage you to recognize that God is more concerned with the why than the what as I look through this, because if you think about it, the what is the sin I'm struggling with, the action that I did, the thought that I have, and I can get real consumed on the what? Man, I did that again, I don't want to do that again, I'm focused on that, and sometimes I miss the whole big picture of the why. Have you ever asked yourself, why does God have us struggle like this? Man, he's forgiven sin, one day he's going to completely eradicate it. And part of it's the mystery of living in a fallen world with real enemies, and part of it is how God has chosen the journey for us. And so as we think about it, I would just encourage you, as you get into the struggle, don't just ask yourself the what. What did I do again? What do I need to do to stop doing this? Have you ever stopped to go, man, why, and what is God doing at a heart level here? Because remember, this whole thing is about the inside out, it's from the heart out. It's not just rules on the outside, it's God changing me from the inside out.

Tim Lundy: [00:33:15] I'll give you an example from my life. Does anybody here ever struggle with greed or envy? It's funny that we never confess to those two, and we probably all struggle with them a lot more than we know. I mean, literally, you can ask any group that question, do ever struggle was greed? Nope, no, not an issue for me. Really? Or envy, I mean, you know we never compare ourselves to others, we never want what they have? I'll feel it at different times, you know, it just wells up, that siren song sings, and I go, ooh. And one of the times I've noticed, sometimes we're on vacation and we'll be on vacation and we're staying at an Airbnb or renting someplace, and I look around and there's all these like beautiful, huge vacation houses, beach houses and I look at them like, whoa. And then we'll be like out to eat right down by the docks, and I start seeing boats, especially when I see boats, it hits me. And I see the big, you know, the big, big boats, and then you see the fishing boats, and then you see the little boats that go with the big boats. And man, that siren song starts singing. Do you know what happens? Then everything in my flesh says, I want this. You say, what do you want, what do you mean this? I mean this, I want the big house, and I want the big boat, and I want the little boat that goes with the big boat. And I want to do what they do all the time, to have all of this all the time. I want it all, baby, I want it all. Now, it'd be easy for me at that moment just to condemn myself. And even as I say at some you are like, Tim, are you saying that Christians can't have big beach houses and big boats and all that? No, in fact, I know I have friends, godly, wonderful people, they have all of those things, and it doesn't impact their walk in the least. But somewhere God has determined that I'm not one of those people. I could make it about rule-based, and tie myself to the mast and go, okay, bad Tim, don't look at the boats, don't think about that, you be happy. Does that work? No. See if I stop just focusing on the what, and then ask, okay, why am I feeling this way? Why do I want that? And as I investigated my own life, now part of the why is actually based on a good thing, I think God is actually made us to be attracted to beauty, to treasure. In fact, it's one of the reasons Jesus promises us in heaven, he goes, oh, I'll give you treasure, I know you're attracted to that, and I can't wait to lavish it on you. And guess what, when I give it to you, it's headache-free, there's no maintenance, there are no robbers, there's none of that stuff, so it's not all a bad thing. We always go, bad, I want that. God knows how we're wired, and I go, okay, yes, probably part of that, there's this longing.

Tim Lundy: [00:36:37] But then I go a little deeper and go, okay, well, why do I feel that way? Well, I'm telling myself somehow if I had that, I'd be happy. Even though I've studied these things, I've studied the hedonic treadmill, I've studied all the things. Like if you make a jump in wealth, the happiness lasts about nine months, and then your brain readjusts and you go, okay, this is the new standard, and you're not as happy as you thought you would. I know all that there, but at a soul level I go, why am I wrestling with it here? And somewhere in that I know I have a God who loves to give me good gifts and he's not given me this, so I'm not really embracing the good of what he is doing in my life and the joy of what it does mean to experience Christ in my life now. And at a core heart level, man, am I telling myself somehow that if I had that, I would be happy. Man, Jesus, deal with this, because if I'm not finding happiness in you, I don't care what I have, it'll never be enough.

Tim Lundy: [00:37:52] See, in all of this wrestling, I just would encourage you, God's not weirded out by the what, he already forgave all the what. Every sin you do, he forgave it already, he's covered it. But he uses this struggle, he uses this process, to force us to wrestle with the why of our hearts. So that as we wrestle those things, man, we become more like Jesus. And here's what it means when you become more like Jesus, life flourishes more, and life is better in it.

Tim Lundy: [00:38:29] So to do that, the core of this issue really comes down to the issue of control, guys, it's all about control. I can't truly change me, no matter how hard I try. That's what Paul's teaching, and that's when theologians say, well, he's writing this as an un-Christian, he's writing this as a Christian and all that. It really doesn't matter what he's writing this as, if I try to do it in my own strength, I'll never get there, I'll never get there. And so God has allowed this struggle in my life so that I learned to depend on him even more. Guys, if I didn't have the power to justify me, I didn't have the power to save me, I don't have the power to glorify me one day, I can't change me completely, why do I think I have the power to sanctify me? Why do I trust so much for Jesus on those two parts of the journey? But then when it comes to this part, it's all up to me. Paul says, hey, whenever it's all up to me, I don't do what I even want to do.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:28] And so as we look at it, we're going to see more in chapter 8 as he unfolds what this means, will I position my life to allow him to be in control? Will I let him lead me? And again, you look at how Paul describes that in Ephesians 5:18, he says, "Do not get drunk with wine." Don't let wine control you. Do you know who needs to control you? "Be filled with the Spirit." Put yourself in a position where the Spirit's in control.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:55] Look how he puts it with the fruit, he says the works of the flesh, and they list all the things, sex, and impurity, idolatry, sorcery, all the things we struggle with, and he goes, this is what the flesh likes to do. Notice, though, he says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control." Even the contrast between these two words, works are something I can do, and when it gets reduced to me, this is the kind of stuff that shows up. Fruit, I can't fruit. I can't even go, I'm going to get some fruit, fruit is something he has to do, but I can position my life so that I experience his work in me, I mean, even in that there's an issue of control.

Tim Lundy: [00:40:55] He says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice." So that's that yes that I'm doing, that's my worship. "Don't be conformed to this world." The no, don't let them shape you. don't choose that. But notice the word here, "Be transformed." Transformed is a change from the inside out, that's something I can't do, he has to do it in me. And so I just ask you today, as you think about maybe the core issue that you're struggling with right now. Satan wants to condemn you in it. The world wants to tell you, oh just do it, don't worry about it. Jesus wants you to experience what a flourishing life really looks like. So he looks at you honestly and he said, you're going to have to say no, but the only way you say yes is you got to let him be in control. And the only way you trust him in that is, you know him well enough that you'd give him that kind of control.

Tim Lundy: [00:42:05] I would encourage you today, this is a real battle that we're all in as followers of Jesus. And the core of this battle every day comes back to that question, how am I today positioning my life, that instead of living in shame, instead of living in the temptation, I'm choosing today, to let him have control. I'm choosing today to live in the light. I'm choosing to say yes, not to a new set of rules, but yes to the Holy Spirit himself, who wants to lead me and guide me and actually produce fruit in my life and in your life too.

Tim Lundy: [00:42:55] Will you pray with me? Father, I pray for each of us today, I pray because we all wrestle with this, more than we admit to each other. And I thank you for just the openness of Paul as he's walking us through this journey. I thank you for the truth of your word, I thank you for the presence of the Holy Spirit here right now in my life and our lives in this church, that what Christ accomplished when he is here, the Spirit continues. Lord, I pray for those today that even as they walked in today, they feel so ashamed, they feel so beat up, the enemy is condemning them and they're believing the lie. Lord, I pray they'd say no to that lie, and yes to the truth of what you've said about them when you declared on the cross, it is finished, it has been paid for, it is done. Lord, I pray for those who maybe they're hiding in some sin that they just don't seem to be able to overcome, I pray, would they say yes to the light? Yes to the community? Yes to the fact that you've called us to walk this together and not alone. Lord, I pray for anybody, maybe they've never taken that first step of truly giving you control of their lives, I pray even today they would say yes to Jesus and experience what he only brings, and we pray this in His name.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032