by Pastor Tim Burt
I gave my life to Jesus Christ in 1977. That seems like a long time ago. I was 24 at the time which means I had 24 years to train my mind to think like the world thinks. That’s bad! Upon giving my life to Jesus, my hunger for knowing Him grew more and more. My desire to learn God’s word was like a thirst that couldn’t be quenched. I loved studying the Bible but I confess, there were parts I loved and parts that made me feel so condemned.
For example, I initially felt that way when I read the verses in Proverbs 6:16-19 NLT which say, “There are six things the LORD hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.” I was taught that the Lord loved me, yet knowing that all these things were a part of my past and that I was still struggling with some of them, made me feel guilty and condemned. His Word declared that He hated these things. The accusing thoughts Satan used to discourage me shouted, God hates these things—you still do some of them—therefore God hates you. I was tormented by thoughts like this continuously. I battled the fear that the Lord knew me all too well and had to be disgusted with my past and what was still clinging on within my thinking.
On every account I found myself overwhelmingly guilty. Of course I learned over time that Jesus didn’t hate me. He truly did love me and washed the sins of my past away. He simply hated these six sins because they would hurt my intimacy with Him and bring hurt to my life and to others through me if I continued to walk in them. It was gaining a revelation of God’s gift of righteousness that saved me from thinking that He hated me, and from tempting me to run away from Him and hide like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.
In Romans 3:22-24 NIV I found great forgiveness and freedom from the guilt and condemnation of the areas of my life I was still working on. These liberating verses said this: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fallen short of standing in God’s Holy presence without sin, yet we are rendered as innocent by the free gift of His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
I learned, That’s me! I have fallen short but Praise God, this righteousness—God justifying me and declaring me innocent—it’s by faith, not by my ability to live perfectly sinless. I had to take authority over these tormenting mind battles—mentally beating myself up every time I’d miss it. My thoughts were still far from pure in many areas of my life. Sometimes my attitude stunk. Sometimes my motives stunk. Sometime the thoughts I’d think were outright sinful even if I hadn’t acted upon them. I had already seen the Holy Spirit work great change within. Even so, the devil made sure to point out every shortcoming and failure within me. I had to accept this free gift of God’s righteousness by faith and let it further empower me to become even more like Christ in my thinking and actions. Beating myself up only discouraged me. Rejoicing that God saw me washed from sin liberated and encouraged me to run to Him with a heart of thanksgiving rather than run from Him in shame. I began to work hard to change my way of thinking and rid my life of these things that God hated. Yet, whenever I fell short, instead of beating myself up, I’d repent and work again to get it right. Throughout all this, I purposed to keep this glorious truth before me. He made me righteous by faith. I cannot do it in myself.
My mind is not the devil’s playground. Wandering evil thoughts and imaginations gone amuck are no longer what goes on in my head and heart. The tormenting condemnation and mind-battles of how God feels about me and the question, Am I ever going to get it right? are gone. God’s gift of righteousness, His love, His presence, His truth and the promise of His Word sit upon the throne of my heart. They anchor my thoughts and steps! I am still under transformation and always will be. I will continuously purpose to become more and more Christ-like. And while that work continues in me, I am loved by Jesus, living free from torment of inadequacy and failure, and living in His righteousness—joyfully loving and impacting the lives of others for Him. It is a wonderful place and one available to us all!
Romans 4:8 (TLB) “Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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