In spiritual warfare it is important to know what battles have already been won so we don’t get confused and waste our energy on battles that we already have the victory in.
For this lesson I will share a prophetic experience I had early in my Christian walk. I must confess it took me years before I actually understood what the Lord was teaching me through this experience, but I have found it to be one of the key revelations that should govern the life of every believer, and a necessary understanding to be effective at spiritual warfare.
The Lord woke me in the middle of the night and said, “get a pen and paper and write down everything I tell you.” I quietly rolled out of bed and did as He instructed.
As soon as I sat down the Lord began to speak to me about my life and ministry. After a page and a half of correction, instruction, and exhortation, the Lord made this final statement to me,
“Don’t let sin distort your reflection of Me. I will confirm this word with a sign following to seal it in your heart.”
Seven days later while starting my daily routine, I was taking a prayer walk around a nearby lake. It was summer in central Florida and the sun was barely up. As I was walking around the lake, fellowshipping with the Lord, He instructed me to go sit on a certain bench that was facing the lake. As I sat down on the bench and looked out across the lake, I was mesmerized by what I saw.
The lake was completely still, not a ripple or a wave of any kind. It was a perfect mirror. Being a fisherman, I have been on many bodies of water early in the morning and seen water so still that you almost didn’t want to touch it and disturb its beauty. This was something more. It was still like a glass of water sitting on the counter. I have never seen anything like it, before or since.
As I looked across the 20 acre lake with the sun behind me, I could see the shoreline on the other side. I saw the rich green grass rising from the edge of the water with huge Live Oak trees on the other side topped off by a beautiful blue sky with a few puffy white clouds. As I looked at this scene, I saw that the reflection in the lake was a perfect mirror image of what I was seeing on the shore.
As I focused on the absolute perfect reflection in the water I realized that this reflected image was a perfect representation of the real thing. If I didn’t know this was a reflection from the lake I would not be able to tell the difference.
As I was having this thought, amazed at this perfect reflection, a tiny fish jumped in the middle of the lake, right in my line of sight. I sat there for over ten minutes and watched as the ripples from that tiny fish slowly spread over the entire lake, distorting that perfect reflection that I was admiring.
Then the Lord spoke, and said the same words He said a week earlier, “Don’t let sin distort your reflection of Me.” This was the sign that He promised me to seal the things He spoke to me in my heart. This was a prophetic word to make warfare with. It changed my life.
I won’t share the other things He said to me, but they were very precise in defining who He called me to be and I focused on these things that spoke to my identity instead of focusing on the sign and trying to gain understanding. This was a grave mistake on my part and cost me years of struggle with sin.
That is the point of this lesson. We have not only been freed from the consequences of sin, but freed from the struggle with sin as well.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ GAVE us victory over spiritual death and sin. It is a free gift! It was easy for me to believe that I have the victory over spiritual death and was going to heaven, but having faith to believe that I was completely freed from sin was just too hard to swallow. After all, I know me. I know my weaknesses. I know how many times I have fallen in the same area, so I battled against sin in my life for years not realizing that the battle had already been won.
This lack of understanding caused me to backslide repeatedly. I would get so wore out and so frustrated from trying not to sin that I would loose hope and give up on God, going back to my old sinful ways. I am so thankful God never gave up on me.
Romans 6:6-7 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
I was free from the slavery of sin and didn’t know it! My old carnal self was crucified with Him when I made Jesus the Lord of my life. The enemy made me believe that I would never be free from sinning and tricked me into fighting a battle that Jesus had already won.
I know I am not alone. I see this problem in the lives of many believers. Hopefully this will shed some light on why some of us struggle with sin.
God’s grace will transform us and restore us back into His image. If we make a mistake and fall into sin, we must quickly repent and forget it just like He does.
Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.
Notice that God blots out our sins and chooses not to remember them? He doesn’t do this for us. He does this for His own sake! He calls us to do the same, for our sake and His as well.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Admit it, quit it, and forget it! If we are diligent to practice this, we stop the ripple effects of sin before it distorts the reflection of His image, in and through our lives. Un-repented sin takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we can possibly pay.
If we don’t deal with sin immediately, we give sin a voice and a platform for expression that causes us to dwell on sin, repeat the sin, and develop a sin consciousness.
It is impossible to reflect the clear image of God with a sin consciousness. Sin has been dealt with by the only one ever qualified to deal with it, Jesus Christ.
We live in this incredible paradox of having two natures, but once we take on the nature of God we die to that old carnal nature. We no longer have to be slaves to sin. Instead, we have the privilege of waking up every day in Him, understanding that we are righteous in His sight and allow His amazing grace to reshape us and mold us into His image.
There is a modern paraphrase of the bible called “The Message” written by Eugene H. Peterson, an American theologian. He wrote this paraphrase so his young grandchildren would have a translation of the Bible that could be easily understood. While this is not a word for word translation and many people reject his writing, I believe he captures the heart of God and spirit of truth on revelations concerning sin and righteousness. Here is a wonderful passage in Romans that teaches this truth beautifully.
Romans 6:1-14 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer captive to sin’s demands! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
12-14 That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.
We can’t let sin distort the image of God in us. We will never experience the freedom from sin that Christ died for if we keep it in our language and in our thoughts.
If we take all the energy that we expend on “doing better, resisting temptation, and struggling to clean ourselves up,” and use it to pursue Him in relationship, He will remove all things that are not pleasing to Him and are hurting His child. He is a good Father. We can be confident that He will complete the work He started in us if we will just cooperate and believe what He said is true.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
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