3-Fold Strategy for Rooting Sin Out of Our Lives

A number of years ago, on my way home from work, a guy cut me off in traffic and I became very angry. I honked and scowled at him to let him know what I thought of his driving. Then, instantly, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin.

I was crushed! How could I respond to others with such anger and venom? I felt soiled by my sin. I was deeply ashamed and desperate to have the Lord take this behavior from me. I needed his transforming power.

At home, I changed and went out for a hike. On that hike, I meditated word-for-word and thought-for-thought on 1 John 1:9, allowing its truths to wash over me.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.

My meditation on this passage was extremely helpful and it also prompted a thought in me I had never considered.

Up until now, I had always “hoped” and “prayed” that I would avoid such a godless reaction when a situation like this arose in traffic. But I saw that this approach was totally passive on my part. As a result, I was always dealing with this sin on the back side of it, after-the-fact, in a reactionary way having to “clean up” my mess.

I realized that all of us go through much of life hoping to avoid sin, but doing very little to aggressively root it out of our lives. Specifically with this sin, I decided I needed to go on the offensive and remove it from my life—but how?

Going to the Word and in conversation with the Lord, he led me to a three-fold offensive strategy:

  1. I daily practiced abiding in Christ asking him to change me.
  2. I shared my specific need for change with a confidant—a spiritual partner (and with my wife).
  3. I chose to replace anger and frustration, with Christ’s patience and love.

Over the next months, as I continued practicing this offensive strategy, I experienced the change the Christ wanted to bring about in me. He gives us victory!

However, I must confess that the second element of that strategy was the most difficult because I had to humble myself, admit defeat, and give my confidant permission to ask me each week how I was doing.

The second element of this offensive strategy is so crucial for victory:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

What pattern of sin would you like God to root out of your life? Go on the offensive, using this strategy and see what God does!

©2015 Rob Fischer

Wrestling in Prayer

 

In Colossians 4:12, Paul says of Epaphras, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” (NIV, emphasis mine) The ESV renders this verse, “Epaphras is…always struggling on your behalf in his prayers.”

What is this wrestling or struggling in prayer? For many of us our minds turn immediately back to Jacob’s experience wrestling all night with the angel of God in Genesis 32. Based on that text, many assume that the wrestling or struggling that Paul refers to is a wrestling or struggling with God. Let’s take a closer look at this.

When we think of a wrestling match, we automatically think of an opponent. One thing is clear—God is not our opponent as we pray for others’ spiritual growth! Epaphras was not wrestling with (against) God in his prayers trying to get God to do something He didn’t want to do.

Unfortunately, many of us view prayer as just that. Somewhere we got the idea that we’re trying to talk God into something that He’s hesitant or resistant to doing. But true prayer always seeks to align ourselves with God’s desires. In 1 John 5:14-15 we read, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Isn’t it true, that we really only want to ask God for that which is according to His will? The Lord’s Prayer directs us to seek God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven.” And Jesus prayed, “Not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36) Our wrestling or struggling in prayer should not be against God. If there is an internal struggle in prayer, it’s our struggle to align ourselves with God’s character and will and to abandon our own.

More accurately, we “wrestle with God” in the sense that He is our Team Mate. In prayer we join Him on behalf of others and struggle with Him on their behalf. Paul asked the followers of Christ in Rome “To join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (Romans 15:30) Since our struggle is not “against flesh and blood,” we must join God in prayer asking Him to do what only He can do.

The New American Standard Bible sheds more light on Colossians 4:12. It says of Epaphras that he is “always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers.” There’s an intensity and fervency about Epaphras’ prayers for his brothers and sisters in Christ. And earlier in this chapter, Paul urged his readers, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)

I am encouraged by this discussion to pray as Epaphras did with passion, fervency and intensity for others. I want to join God in prayer and see His will and His purposes accomplished in my life and the lives of others!

©2013 Rob Fischer

Power Through Prayer

Paraphrased excerpts from Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds:

We are on a constant search for better methods, more clever plans, and new ways to organize in order to advance the church. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men and women.

The church needs men and women whom the Holy Spirit can use—men and women of prayer—mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through people; people wholly yielded to Him.

The personal character of leaders has more to do with the spiritual renewal of nations than any other factor. The character and conduct of followers of Christ have more to do with the impact of the Gospel on a nation than any other factor. The individual makes the servant of the Gospel. God must make the individual.

The individual, the whole individual, lies behind the work of God. Our work is not the performance of an hour; it is the outflow of a life. Our work for God must be a thing of life. Our work grows, because we grow. Our work is holy, because we are holy.

Everything depends on the spiritual character of Christ’s servant. We must impersonate the Gospel. It is not great talents nor great learning nor great preachers and teachers and leaders that God needs. God wants men and women great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, and great in fidelity. Such people can mold a generation for God!

Prayer is the greatest weapon of the servant of God. Prayer places us in God’s presence—the place we become holy. Prayer calls upon and takes hold of the power of God. The real work of God is made in the closet. The man or woman of God is made in the closet.

Our life and most profound convictions are born in secret communication with God. Prayer makes God’s servant.

The pride of learning; the pride of past accomplishment; the pride of the newest trend; and the pride of our own creative genius all set themselves against the dependent humility of prayer. If we do not make prayer a mighty factor in our lives and ministry, our impact for God will be weak, powerless and without effect on the lost world.

“Devote yourselves to prayer.” Colossians 4:2

There is a danger in reading a challenge like that above. The danger is to feel overwhelmed with a sense of guilt over past or current failures, or to feel inadequate with regard to potential future victories. Lay aside those feelings.

Instead, simply flee to God’s presence, enjoy His company and let Him change you. In Psalm 16:11, David praises God, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

 

©2011 Rob Fischer