God is able to make us stand

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When it comes to controlling our appetite we so often feel both weak and vulnerable.  The desire to live healthily and not to overeat is there, but in practice it’s often a different story. ‘The mind is willing but the flesh is weak,’ said Jesus. Amen to that!

So, if the flesh is weak, why do we continue to put our trust in it? “I must just try harder, I guess,” is the resigned cry I hear so often from those who are seeking to tackle their own weight issues. I know what you mean and you mean well, but ‘trying harder’ isn’t the answer – if it was, I think you’d have cracked it! Self-effort, in all aspects of our Christian life, is doomed to failure.  Paul wrote in Philippians 3:3 that he had ‘no confidence in the flesh.’  Furthermore in Romans 7:18 he asserts that in his flesh ‘nothing good dwells.’  It is the nature of the flesh to lust, plain and simple, and all the effort in the world, all the resolve, all the promises, all the deals, all the coaxing, all the threats even, are not going to make a scrap of difference. The flesh can’t do what the flesh can’t do!!  The sooner we realise this, the better.

Over against this dismal fact, however, God has given us some glorious promises.  He promises that ‘his strength is made perfect in our weakness.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9) He has said that in Him we are ‘more than conquerors through Him who loves us.’ (Romans 8:37)  He tells us that his grace is sufficient for us, whatever the need or temptation.

One of my favourite promises is found in Romans 14:4. In context we read: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Hallelujah! God is able to make us stand. Slimming clubs can’t make you stand; the loving support of friends and family (good as that it) ultimately can’t make you stand, and your own self-efforts can’t make you stand. If we are to withstand temptation victoriously, it is God by his grace who can enable us to do so.

But whilst God is our strength we are not just passive spectators. We do still have a part to play. Consider a weight-lifter:  even if his strength comes from God he still has to exercise and feed his muscles! How do we do this spiritually?  By exercising ourselves in prayer and feeding upon God’s Word.

In Ephesians 6:13, Paul said, “Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and it is alive and powerful even in the hands of spiritual babes. In Romans 16:25 Paul said, “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel . . .” The Greek word for establish is sterixai , from which you have steroid, meaning something that makes you strong. God is able to establish you and make you strong so that can withstand temptation. You do not have to be weak, wobbly and a push-over when it comes to food.

At the very point of temptation know that Christ is there. His grace is sufficient to enable you to stand under it and not to fall, that you may resist the Devil successfully. And even when, through our weakness and imperfect surrender, we do fall, that is never the end of the story.  The same grace which will cause us to stand when we fully trust in Christ will also forgive us when we mess up. A.W.Tozer (one of my favourite Christian authors) has written: ‘The Devil will taunt you with the fact that you may have stumbled in the faith—and perhaps more than once! The devil wants you to live in a state of discouraged chagrin and remorse. Remember, the Bible does not teach that if a man falls down, he can never rise again. The fact that he falls is not the most important thing—but rather that he is forgiven and allows God to lift him up. (Taken from ‘I Talk Back to the Devil,’ p. 7

Psalm 37:24 tells us that ‘though we stumble we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord upholds us with his hand.’’  Wonderful!

So if you had a bad day yesterday, don’t give up.  Failure is an event, not a person!  Today, you will do better.  Let your weakness humble you so that increasingly you learn to rely on God’s strength and not your own.  Surrender to him and seek to be obedient to his voice.  You will overcome, child of God, for this is your birthright!

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