Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Offense Trap - Part 2

Last week we spoke about the dangerous trap of offense and how our hurt and disappointment will lead to our destruction if we don’t deal with it as the Word instructs us to.  We learnt how rehearsing and nursing the offense just aggravates and empowers it, causing a root of bitterness to enslave our hearts, contaminate our minds, and even defile those around us.

When I told you about casting that hurt onto the Lord, and surrendering to His love, I showed you how forgiveness is the only key to be set free from the trap of offense.  And what keeps us free, is that overwhelming, never ending, powerful force of God’s unconditional love!

Romans 5:5 says the Holy Spirit Himself pours the love of God into our hearts - He gives us His unconditional, perfect love to do exactly what His Word tells us to do - to forgive and love, not hold onto grudges and curse.  Do you remember what Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them.”

Now, let me tell you something else about the Wonderful Holy Spirit, Who is our counsellor and teacher.  According to Philippians 1:6, He has promised to complete this good work which He has begun in us, and see it carried through to completion.  What good work is that?  It’s allowing His love to override and dominate our own negative feelings and hurt, so that we can sincerely bless and love those who have wronged us.  

That means there’s no quitting on this act of obedience.  You can’t just try mumble a few niceties under your breath about the person you’ve forgiven, and then say, “I tried, it didn’t work, I’m done here...”.  No, that’s not what you’re going to do.  The Holy Spirit is faithful to do exactly what He has promised to do - in and through you - and His ways are not only perfect, they are to see you free, keep you healed, restored and moving forward in victory!

So let’s take a brief, but closer look at what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”

There are two things I want to point out to you from this verse.  Firstly, Paul said the work the Holy Spirit began in us, He will perfect and complete in us.  That good work will be anything that involves our surrendering our wills to Him, and choosing to be influenced by His heart and attitude, so we can sincerely obey His Word.  

In this case, it is to surrender to His love, forgive and bless those who have disappointed us.  Now, one translation says the Holy Spirit will not only complete this good work, but perform it in us.  That word perform translated from the Greek, conveys the idea of God’s own supernatural power and ability actually picking us up and carrying us onward.  

Don’t you just love that?  In other words, when we have humbled ourselves to refuse our flesh and submit our wills to the Holy Spirit, as an act of obedience to His Word; He rushes right in, and strengthens and equips us with His love so we can do it!  Then, He carries us through the process, so we don’t get stuck, but move forward!  It’s that simple and brilliant at the same time!  All it takes is our willingness to submit to Him, obey, and trust Him to be exactly Who His Word says He is!

The second truth I want to point out, is how Paul says he is convinced of this happening to us.  He isn’t even suggesting, or saying it’s a possibility for us.  No, Paul said he is convinced this is exactly what we will experience!  

One translation says he is persuaded and completely convinced that this is exactly what the Holy Spirit will do in and for us.  That means we can fully trust and expect it to happen.  And I second Paul in this statement - I have first hand experience that it is absolutely true!

So, where do we begin?  We start agreeing that God’s Word is the final authority in our lives, and that obedience to its truth is what will see us walking in victory instead of bitterness and defeat.  

Then we stand up strong against our flesh and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We can only do this through the strength of the Holy Spirit.  This is how: We tell the Holy Spirit we want to obey His will and not our own, and we ask Him to fill and flood our hearts with the love and empowering grace of God.  

In other words, we ask Him to give us His heart for those who have wronged us.  We deliberately speak out forgiveness towards them and expect the powerful, supernatural love of God to go to work, through His Precious Holy Spirit inside us.  We can trust that power to pick us up and carry us through to sincerely bless and love those who once hurt us.

Let me tell you, in an instant, what the devil set up for our downfall has been turned around for our blessing and God’s glory!

Now, just before I end this letter, I want to leave this thought with you.  Remember the verse that began this series, Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them.”?  Well, it’s interesting to note the Greek tense of this verse describes a continuous action.  

That means, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are expected to bless and speak well of these people again and again.  This is not a once off deliberate act of obedience.  It must become a lifestyle.  

The more we yield to the Holy Spirit and allow His perfect love for others to flood our hearts, the more that disappointment will lose its power over us.  Our words of blessing will begin to have a powerful effect on our own well-being, and set us free from the trap the enemy set up for us.  God’s love is so liberating and continuously builds us up, heals us, and satisfies us in Him.  

So, when an accusing thought pops into your mind - instead of lingering on it, call on the Holy Spirit, submit to His love, forgive, and speak God’s blessing!  You will be amazed at how those negative thoughts will begin to diminish.   

This is how to live in victory when we’ve been hurt.  We have a wonderful, faithful partnership with the Holy Spirit - He enables us to speak blessing where it’s humanly impossible, and then keeps us in a place of  blessing - as His love does its perfect work in us.  

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