Since the beginning of this series, we have been learning the different principles to discover the blessings this year. Let's take a moment to review them:
Principle #1 God WANTS to Bless You!
Principle #2 Suffering and Sorrow help us obtain the maturity to enjoy the blessing!
Principle #3 To be blessed, you must love Him enough to obey Him.
Principle #4 To be blessed, you must meditate on His Word.
Principle #5 We must have a singleness of mind.
Today we will discuss a principle that will block the blessings that God has for us:
Principle #6 We must stop doing what we KNOW is wrong.
There are so many of us that are plagued with the issue of doing what we KNOW is wrong, but find that we are UNABLE to fight the temptation.
Even the apostle Paul found that he was unable to do what he wanted to do but did what he did NOT want to do. So much so (was his grief) that he cried out in Romans 7:24 "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"
Last week I felt led to visit a dear friend from our church who has a restored marriage. Planning to make it a short visit, the Lord kept me there a long time— spending a few hours there because the car that I was driving lost the power steering. The Lord made that divine appointment for me, and He used the car issues to keep it for the length of time that He wanted me there.
When I first arrived, my friend, too, like Paul, cried to me that something was terribly wrong! My friend confessed to not being the same person that allowed God to previously restore their marriage, but instead, became like Paul and was and “unable to do what he wanted to do but did what he did NOT want to do.” The old self was back again!!
When I had a moment alone, I asked the Lord for the wisdom He wanted me to give my friend. Surprisingly, the moment I came back into the room, even before I had a chance to say anything, my friend blurted out, "I wanted to talk to you about fasting." Well, that was the word from the Lord. Fasting.
There is nothing more powerful to the pulling down of strongholds, getting breakthroughs and KILLING the flesh than fasting! This is not the only solution, but it is a big part of it and often where He starts.
First, I told my friend, as I am telling you, that the Lord wants to show ALL of us that "apart from Him we can do NOTHING!" (John 15:5) The Lord likes to show us that He wants us to rely on Him and never attempt anything without Him.
The apostle Paul went on to say (when he cried out when he did what he didn’t want to do but still did) that the solution was to understand the difference between the spirit and the flesh. To fully understand, take time to read through these two verses, and I encourage you to also go to BibleGateway.com and read other parallels from different Bible versions:
“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
Romans 8:5 (NASB)—
“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”
The bottom line is none of us can change ourselves. It is only as God works "in us" that we are transformed. In addition to letting God work in us, we work with Him by KILLING the flesh through fasting. Fasting is one way that a believer who wants to grow in God can kill the flesh and increase in the things of the spirit.
Almost a year ago the Lord reminded me (ever so gently) that I was not fasting regularly. I repented to Him and then later to our Restoration Fellowship President at the time. It was true that I had failed to fast regularly as we encourage all of you to do. And once you get away from it, it is so easy to let it slide, sometimes for quite a while, as was my case.
Then with fasting again, it also began my spiritual increase. When we starve or fail to feed the flesh, then it begins to lose strength. And at the same time, our spirit gains the strength.
In addition to the fasting, I showed my friend the verse in Isaiah 58:6 that says, "Is this not the fast that I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?" I shared that recently the Lord had led me to "choose" which bonds of wickedness I wanted loosened, which bands of the yoke that I wanted Him to undo, what oppression I wanted to be free from. This fast that I chose needed to break every [enslaving] yoke that had a hold of me!
I confided in my friend that my "choices" for my fasts were fear, intimidation, condemnation, guilt and shame—which (at the time) were running my life, and playing on my emotions.
All of our members should SG about fasting at least two days a week, and should commit to doing it forever, even unto, and especially after, your restoration. Seek God for wisdom to know what you should "choose" to break during your fast.
However, keep in mind that even when you’re fasting if when you are tempted, and you simply "give in" to the temptation, then you are doing the very opposite of starving to KILL the flesh; you, instead, are FEEDING your flesh.
Feeding your flesh will greatly decrease you spiritually. It results in more and more temptations overcoming you until you are in a backslidden state. Each time you "give in" to a temptation the flesh is strengthened, because you "fed it." Then, when another temptation comes at you, your spiritual strength is often too weak and you fall into the temptation again and again, which results in a weaker spirit and even stronger flesh.
So to really KILL the flesh you need to FAST until you are physically weak but strong spiritually! AND when you’re physically weak you will find it’s much easier to refuse to "give in" to the temptation. I heard Joyce Meyer say that she had such tremendous trouble with her mouth that she finally resorted to "stuffing a towel in her mouth and running down the hall so that she didn't say something she shouldn't to Dave!"
So, back in 2004 when I first wrote this series, I made a list of a few things that I saw too many of our members doing, which were not only inhibiting their restoration but were also feeding their flesh, so that there were missing His blessings:
1. Arguing. Even though many of you have stopped arguing with your spouse, you continue arguing with others. Instead, remember that we are asked to live harmoniously (see 1 Peter 3:8) and be agreeable (see Matthew 5:25).
2. Stop asking questions. If you still ask your spouse, your encouragement partner, our ministry or anyone else you can think of to help you find the answers, then you have not given God the job of giving you wisdom (James 1:5), nor allowing the Lord to lead you (Psalm 23:2). If you turn to Him, He will continually guide you once you’ve stop "leaning" to your own understanding, and acknowledge (Proverbs 3:5-6) that only HE knows the path you should take along your Restoration Journey.
3. Stop asking for things. The only One who can meet ALL your needs (Phil. 4:9) is God. He provided His Son to be with you (Matthew 28:20). Trust me, you will never be satisfied with love or companionship that originates in a human being. And you will never enjoy the possessions you have been blessed with if they are not given directly to you from the Lord (because you asked Him). He wants ongoing moment-by-moment fellowship with you, because He loves you and promises to bless you with everything you need— if you make Him first in your life and first in your heart. Make a commitment to do it today.
4. Pursuing. Too many of you have still never let go. I know it, your friends know it, and your spouse knows it too. Unfortunately, you still don't know it and continue to deny it. If you still eat, sleep, think, and talk about your spouse (whats she or he is doing, feeling, etc., etc.) you have simply NOT let them go. We see it in every form you fill out. Even if you have told your spouse they are free, you will never be free until you let go. Trust me and everyone who has ever experienced a restored marriage—there is such freedom in allowing the Lord to be ALL you need! It will give you the freedom from fear, intimidation, dread and from the bondage of slavery of needing your spouse home. And, this is the freedom that God needs in order to work in and complete your restoration.
Make a new commitment this week to seek the Lord more fully, while fasting. And make sure you let go and give your spouse to Him. If you don't know how to do it, simply ask the Lord to do it. Become totally and fully dependent on Him for everything. And, if you have failed in your desire to fast, make a new start of it this week by beginning to SG for wisdom for what’s prevented it in the past. If you continue to fail, or you have trouble because of headaches or your health, talk to the Lord about it. Let Him make the way straighter and easier to lead you to gaining victory over your flesh so you begin being led by the Spirit.