Be Yourself and Conquer

NOTE: Time went by fast this past November, at least it did for me. I promised we’d have guest posts on the topic of identity, but we didn’t debut any this past month. But, starting next week, a friend will share her guest post for the next two weeks (part I and II). She’s new to this community, so I’m thrilled to introduce her so you can hear a different voice.

Garden of Eden, self effort, grace, liberty, freedom, programming, God

Photo Credit: Light Storm Studio (CC)

What’s the enemy of my soul?

Self-effort.

I groan hearing this word. It conjures up years of toiling to please God where I relied on a disciplined lifestyle of prayer and fasting to please him and walk in his ways.

Although I believed I was saved by grace, I relied on self effort to transform. If I prayed and fasted long enough, I’d liberate myself. And God would be pleased that I chose to pray instead of spending time “sinning”.

So, why did I feel depressed and condemned?

Whenever I discovered an imperfection, such as when my temper flared or thoughts were worldly, I’d feel guilty and depressed. Somehow, I hadn’t prayed or fasted enough to change. I’d have to pray and fast longer until I’m completely set free.

Prayer and fasting are tools to yield to him, but they aren’t my salvation. In other words, I can’t make myself change no matter what I do. Why? Because I’m trying to work to a place of transformation instead of receiving it. Jesus already paid the price so I could be like him. See, I thought I was praying and fasting to be like Jesus, but I already am.

But God led me to the Garden — a place of rest and liberty.

“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” Genesis 2:8-9 NKJV

God provided everything Adam needed: food, water, and companionship. Adam didn’t lack for anything, nor did they have to sweat to meet his needs.

Adam’s job?

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 NKJV

Since they were created in God’s image, Adam and Eve just needed to be themselves. They were given authority over the earth and ability to procreate. Anything they needed to learn or discover, God showed them. He didn’t leave them alone to figure it out or remain independent. They worked together as a family.

We have a Garden of Eden within.

Our new nature is this cultivated garden — a place of rest and authority.

What does that mean?

I’m not completely sure, because I’m exploring this garden myself. But Paul shares in Galatians what God intends for us in this “garden”.

“Those who have been made holy will live by faith! But keeping the law does not require faith, but self-effort. For the law teaches, “If you practice the principles of the law, you must follow all of them.” Yet, Christ paid the full price to set us free from the curse of the law. He absorbed it completely as he became a curse in our place.” (Galatians 3:11-13 TPT)

How do you walk free?

“Circumcision doesn’t mean a thing to me. The only thing that really matters is living by the transforming power of this wonderful new creation life. All those who live in agreement with this standard will have true peace and God’s delight, for they are the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:15-16 TPT

Allow the transforming power of the new nature work its salvation. You can’t control this power, but yield to it. How?

“I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship. Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” (Romans 12:1-2 TPT).

What did Adam and Eve eat in the garden? 

Fruit from the tree of life. Although this is a literal tree, it also represents abiding in him. Receiving truth and identity from God, not from yourself or the world.

The Tree of knowledge of good and evil represents self-effort. We rely on ourselves apart from God to live. That’s the definition of religion. Man trying to be like God through self-effort.

God informed Adam and Eve that this would lead to spiritual death.

That’s what Paul was referring to in Romans 12:1 when he says, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you.” In other words, stop relying on what the world teaches and preaches. This isn’t easy though, but requires surrendering to God’s grace. For we’re born into this world’s culture, and programmed to its ways until we get born again.

Then as believers, we walk in faith to surrender to God’s computer programming.

When we hear his truth through the written word and revealed truth, He’s downloading a new chip for our mind. This chip installs his mind, replacing the old programming.

As you look forward to conquering new mountains in 2018, always walk in surrender. He’s the one who transforms us, but he needs us to lay ourselves down at his altar as a sacrifice. So, he can do the work he wants in us. And it’s all to let us see who we are: we’re his creation!

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About the Author

sarahsoonwriter

Friend of God. Writer. Resting in His grace daily.

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