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Well, I read the first page of our new lesson this morning and had to stop because these thoughts came immediately to me. Don’t give up! Don’t give in! If we give up, Satan wins. Why are we depressed and despairing when we see our sin? Again I have to confess this must be my pride. My flesh is still deceiving me into thinking there is some good in me apart from Jesus. My flesh is trying to get me to believe Satan’s lies that I’m okay; I’m not as bad as another; I’m not a murderer or thief or a prostitute. Or am I? Or are we? God’s Word says the answer is yes. That is precisely who we are apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Jesus told me if I have hate in my heart that is the same as murder. In fact He says, “and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Mat. 5:22). The book of Hosea is intended to show us who we are, spiritual adulterers. And the Lord says He will not give His glory to another (Isa. 42:8), yet my flesh works like a thief to steal His glory for myself.

This is why the Son of God had to die. This is why royal blood had to be shed! Instead of living in shame, despair, hopelessness — we have to look up and out. “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psa. 121:1-2). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

The flesh is one of our mortal enemies. Let’s not grieve any longer that she exists. Instead, let’s celebrate the triumph of Christ on the cross. Our sin has been dealt a mortal blow! “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13). We have been adopted, chosen by God before the foundation of the world. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…” (John 15:16). I am exhorting my own soul and hopefully my sisters’ along with me to stop identifying with the flesh. Stop looking within for salvation, hope, goodness, and righteousness! Remember? Charles Spurgeon wrote that there is nothing more deadly than self-righteousness and nothing more hopeful than contrition.

Our God has made a way where there was no way. We were under wrath, justly condemned to death because we are guilty of high treason. But our Judge had mercy. “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psa. 103:10) because another stepped forward to take our place. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Jesus, out of His great love, willingly endured the wrath of God that we deserve so we could be set free. What will our response be? Continuing to live in the filth of the flesh? Continuing to yell at our children or giving the cold shoulder to our husbands? Continuing to believe the lies of the enemy? Or will we choose by faith to believe the truth of our Savior? It’s not about how we feel. Just because I don’t feel like the Holy Spirit lives in me doesn’t mean it’s not true! “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” God’s Word is true and we have to choose to believe it by grace through faith. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The Lord has graciously granted us new life. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Let’s see this gift anew today. May the love of Christ be our motive from here on out for everything we do and say. May His life, death, and resurrection compel us to turn from our sin and labor to put our flesh to death by the power of the Holy Spirit and no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us. “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).

I love you all. And I know more than anybody that is the grace of God in the life of this introverted, judgmental, prideful, critical, angry, hopeless, and fearful woman (my old self that I must work to put to death). I thank the Lord for bringing us all together! I praise Him that I’m not in this battle alone. We are one body in Christ. “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11). Praise be to God for His amazing grace. Life can be so terribly hard and heart breaking. But this world is not our home. Christ is now preparing a place for us and He is coming back for us. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). I’m so thankful His mercies are new every morning!

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace

 

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