Struggle of Romans Seven
I earlier gave my testimony in the Intercessor. However, I have recently received a lot more light which I would like to share with you.
I’ll begin by briefly mentioning my background. The past I have come out of involved many compulsive, addictive behaviors. I abused substances, people and anything I could to try to make myself feel better. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, which I used as an excuse to rebel and to medicate my feelings.
I’ll start from the very beginning of my life. I have realized that the underlying problem from way back in my childhood, even as a newborn, was that I was first hooked-up to the spirit of Satan. I’m not a special case, of course, because the Bible says that we are all "of our father, the devil" (John 8:44). We don’t have a choice in this matter at the time we are born. Thankfully, God gives us a way out of this unfortunate circumstance by showing us we are sinners and by giving us Christ to accept as our Savior. Without fully knowing what I was doing, I accepted Christ at a young age, and I took as a fact through most of the years of my life that I was a Christian, and that because of Jesus, I was going to heaven.
So I’m supposed to be a right person, a Christian, joined to Christ’s Spirit instead of Satan’s. What was the problem? Shouldn’t my life be fine? Not only was it not "fine," but my life was miserable. I even thought I could give up on God (and tried) because if He was supposed to be the answer and I and my family (all Christians) were dysfunctional, then I really was not interested! But I had accepted Christ and am joined to Him forever, so I can never "give up" on Him. For as far back as I can remember, I had tried to find a way to make life work apart from God. I looked out at the world and thought there was something in the drinking/partying lifestyle. I liked drinking because it would change my feelings… temporarily. I liked the sense of rebellion but I’d always end up doing something I really didn’t want to do. There were also consequences which always seemed to get worse. I tried to make alcohol work for me, but I failed miserably. I have continued to feel lacking and needy with a longing for something to complete me. And I have tried about everything to satisfy it, to no avail. The result of all this, eventually, was desperation. I know now that this was a right sense of desperation and inability to satisfy my strongest need. See, my true desire is God, and no matter what I’d done to deny, suppress, avoid, or medicate, He will always be my true desire. He is God (I am not, and no other is); this is a fact. So when what I am doing is not in line with God’s will, then I shall be miserable.
In light of this, my ongoing problem is how I have continued to see myself. I have believed a lie about myself which began way back in my early years of life. (It is the SAME LIE presented by Satan to Adam & Eve in the Garden, and all people thereafter!) The same lie I believed when I was actively rebelling is the same lie that has kept me sick even in recovery. This is the lie: I THOUGHT I WAS AN "INDEPENDENT I", APART FROM GOD. I thought "I" had to change; I thought "I" was worse than others; I thought "I" was better than others; I thought "I" was bad at things; I thought "I" was good at things; I thought "I" should be able to do what "I" wanted; I thought "I" was hopeless and on and on. This same lie has kept me in bondage. When I believe I am just an alone "self," independent of Christ, then I think "I" deserve all the credit for the good, and all the condemnation for the bad. This lie comes straight from Satan, who wants to keep me (and any other Christian) blinded from the true light that Christ’s Spirit is joined to my spirit.
From my experience, accepting this lie results in a life of continual struggle (Paul’s same struggle in Romans 7) that the good I want to do I can not do, but the bad, this I do. Believe me, this will be ongoing as long I think "I" am capable of doing anything on my own. Giving up this idea of "independent I" and instead trusting Jesus Christ to live the life I cannot live is what allows Him to take over and operate through me. I simply say by faith that this is true and believe it.
I recently got a clear view of where believing Satan’s lie will take me. When I first came to trust Christ in me instead of "just me," I was at a point of desperation. Gradually (it’s taken years), I trusted Him more and more and me less and less. I saw Him stop drinking, Him sever unhealthy relationships, Him able to say my name in a room full of people, Him able to change, Him able to move away from home, Him able to move to NC, Him able to find a job, and Him able to look people in the eyes through me when I thought it all impossible.
My problem began when I had started to think and accept that it is "just I" who is able because "I" was now doing these things "I" once could not do. It looked like me and felt like me. This felt easier and more comfort–able, and I wanted to stay in these comfortable feelings. I held on to this rather than to Christ/I. The evidence of this believing showed up in many areas of my life. I went back to my original struggles of taking credit for the good and condemnation for the bad. This made me spiritually sick and blinded me from the light of Christ in me. The bottom line is that there is no "just me," and to believe the lie that there is allows Satan to act out through me in his self–for–self behaviors.
A most noticeable area was my behavior towards my close friends, who see me not as "just me," but as Christ/I. But, I was deceived into believing that I am "just me" I suddenly had more and more to protect. My friends were honest while I was dishonest, and I’d often be scared I’d be in trouble if anyone knew this. I also had secrets, many from my past which I did not want to admit to others or myself. I didn’t want to admit how bad "I" really was. I was also medicating with food and busy–ness to escape my feelings. Thankfully, my friends, because they see me as Christ/I, knew something was wrong. They could see that I’d been quiet and would not con–tribute in conversations. Knowing Christ is able to speak and has some–thing to contribute, they wanted me free to speak and be a real person expressing Him. I agreed I really wanted this to be true, but I was holding on to this "self’ by thinking "I" could do this. I claimed YES, I will change, I will speak and be a real person. But, this never worked. In fact, the more I tried to change, the worse I got. I tried over and over again, always failing. I was struggling again, like Paul in Romans 7, because the good I wanted to do I could not do, but the bad, this I would do. I refused to believe that Christ, not I, is able to do the good I wanted. Because I would not change my believing, I was blocked from the light others tried to give to me. Others encouraged me to be honest and talk about my past (as well as present), as hiding it was keeping me sick. I didn’t want to be exposed and this led me to separating from them and eventually, out of complete frustration, giving up on God.
I made a decision to give up on God. I did not want to struggle any more. I claimed "I’m through with this, God!" I immediately turned to medicating with food, work, rebellious music and cigarettes. I was on the run. I wouldn’t speak to any of my friends (which included family members). I didn’t care anymore, I was going to do whatever "I" wanted to do. At first, I was enjoying my "freedom." But, I was heading to exactly where I came from, to the rebellious, substance abusing lifestyle which I knew resulted in misery. I held on, thinking: "it is too late. I’ve already decided to give up on God and I’m not turning back now. I know I’m not doing well, but I can’t face it now. at about my family? What about my friends? What about the future? How am I going to make it? I just can’t think about any of this now!" So on I went, until God sent out a rescue. I saw two of my close friends who were concerned for me and reached out to me. It felt painful to see them, and I could not medicate the pain. They also told me that I had missed out on something with my family that I really wanted to be a part of. This was very painful to hear, and I could not forget it. The last thing they told me was that God was giving me a chance to turn around, and I might not get another chance. A pinhole of light–God was giving me a chance? I could not forget any of this, and I admitted to myself that I was miser–able and needed help. During the course of this day, God changed my wants. At the beginning of the day, I was fixed in my choice against God. By the end of the day, I knew I had to have God and wanted to do whatever it would take to be right with Him.
It was hard to believe, but others reached out to me, starting with my sister, Sheryl, who, interestingly, called me the moment after I turned my life over to God and would do whatever it took to be right with Him. I was desperate talking to her, knowing I had given up on her and my family. Next, I talked to a friend who has poured herself out to help me many times when I have just hurt her in return. And here she was, again, reaching out to me. I was desperate talking to her knowing I could never reverse the hurt I had caused her and wondering how she could even talk to me again. She told me that no matter what I have done, I am still joined to Christ, and this is still true. This was unbelievable, but I clung to it. I talked to other friends who had refused to give up on me, continuing to claim me as Christ’s. All this was light and the truth began to penetrate more and more. I wanted the light. I knew this was God and I wanted Him in whatever form He was in. I didn’t deserve Him, and asked His forgiveness. I wanted and needed Him, and I gave up on everything but Him. I came to the end of "myself." And this is what broke the bondage I was in. It was not too late to turn back to God from this sin course I was on. I could see who I really am, as God sees me, joined to Christ, and agree this is the truth. Starting with that moment, and moment by moment after, I no longer believed I am an "I," but instead I am Christ/I. HE is able to be right with God. HE is able to be honest. HE is able to feel pain. HE is able to right every wrong. HE is able to know what to do next. THE SECRET IS THAT HE DOES IT, WHILE I KNOW "I" CAN NOT.
What a relief to know the sin was seeing my ability as independent from Christ, and now I see that He is my ability and is able through me. I just switched my seeing.
I am grateful that God did not let me go when I wanted to let Him go. I am grateful He rescued me from continuing in sin, as I could not limit where Satan would have taken me, and I know the hell on earth where I was heading. It was only by God’s grace that I was spared and am breathing here today.
I do not have a process to tell about or a guideline to help others who are blinded as I was, in sin, thinking they are an "alone I" I do know that this is a lie and to get back on track was just to accept my union with Christ as a fact. The process that follows is up to Him.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 11 No 1
- God’s Obsession
- Editor’s Note
- British Update
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Get-together in New York
- Our Weakness Is Our Glory
- The Divine Intercessor
- Straight and Narrow and Uphill
- The Letter to the Romans
- To Think About
- Struggle of Romans Seven
- Questions & Answers
- The Only Two Natures
- God’s Promises
- The Mailbox
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- A Look at a Book
- From God Unlimited
- Words to Live By