I was reminded today of a truth that I often forget.
For most of my life I have tried very hard to not need anyone. To be self-reliant. When I fail I would just try harder to be better.
I’ve tried to be a good mom. A good wife. A good friend, sister and daughter. But no matter how hard I try at some point I have failed. I have let people down. I have disappointed them and I’ve hurt them.
Of course this same kind of thinking carries over into my relationship with God. I want to be a good child. I want Him to be pleased. I try to follow the rules and obey. But I can’t, so I beat myself up. I tell myself how awful I am. I have one wild pity party. When I am done feeling myself I resolve that I will try harder. I try to figure out what I did wrong and resolve not do it. again I will learn what I am suppose to do, how I am suppose to act and just do it.
But I would fail again, trying harder would get me no where. Then the party would start all over. A terrible vicious cycle of trying, failing and partying. (A pity party that is!)
What was I doing wrong? What was I forgetting?
I forgot that my works mean nothing. The works that I do do not make me good. My “good” behavior or trying harder will not save me or change me. (Romans 3)
I forgot that “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” Romans 7:8
So what’s a girl to do? How can I be good? How can I do that which pleases my Father?
I die to the flesh. I die to trying harder to be good. I die to what I think I should do. I stop trying to rely on my own strength and remember that I have the power of the “life-giving Spirit” who has freed me through Christ Jesus from the power of sin! (Rom 8:2)
I also need to remember that God destroyed sin's control over me by giving his Son as a sacrifice for my sins. Because of Jesus I no longer have to follow my sinful nature but instead I can follow the Spirit. I do not have to think about sin or be controlled by my flesh because I am now controlled by the Holy Spirit. And if the Holy Spirit controls my mind, there is life and peace. (Romans 8:3-9)
Okay but how do I live that out on days that I am trying to be good or trying in my own strength? I stop and ask God to help me. I fall at the foot of the cross and remember it’s there that real change takes place.
At the cross Christ died taking all my sins and worthless works upon Himself. The flesh is dead and no longer lives in me. But Jesus, who God raised from the dead now lives in me giving me the same power that lives in Him. I do not have to obey my flesh, I can rely on the power of the Holy Spirit that now lives in me. (Rom 8:10-14)
The chorus of the song Who You Are by Unspoken says
Where you are is never too late,
So bad, so much
That you can't change
At the foot of the cross
You can change, yeah
Who you are, at the foot of the cross
You can change, yeah
(Who you are)
You can change who you are,
You can change,
I can not change when I rely on myself. Real change only comes at the foot of the cross.