I don’t know if you can relate to this, but as stated in a previous post I was raised in the Church. When I started trying to “fit in” I started doing some really stupid stuff. I grew up listening to country…suddenly I found myself listening to Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Bone thugs and harmony, limp bizkit and many other “less than Christian” artists. I tried to pick up the habit smoking by snagging half smoked cigarettes out of the college ash trays…then I got into shop lifting…until I got caught! Smoking weed came next, followed by “borrowing” the parent’s car to sneak out and go drink, smoke and party. I then dabbled in pornography and I became sexually active. Essentially failing at epically at being a “Christian”.
It was kind of funny though because I was saved and had a working knowledge of my faith…I continued to go to church and youth group and play the christian part. Then would come summer camp! PRAISE JESUS MY LIFE WAS CHANGED! I got home and literally threw away all my “Bad” cd’s, started reading my bible again, stopped all the bad stuff….for about two weeks, then I slowly got bored of christian music and started re-burning all my bad music, started smoking again, etc.
Then a youth group event CHANGED MY LIFE AGAIN! And the circle continued…I went through this tug-o-war till I was 20 years old! There is not much in this life as a Christian more stressful than continually failing at being the person God created you to be. That in and of itself was a constant failure, success, repeat cycle that started me on the path of doubting that God could really sanctify me.
I would tell God, “The world is too strong for me”, “I’m weak and I need you to fix me”, but the struggle continued. I didn’t know how to be the kind of Christian that God wanted me to be…I mean…I had an idea, but lacked the ability to get outside my head. And the poor self image and lack of self worth only dowsed the fire with gasoline. I haven’t totally broken the tug-o-war battle and I’m not sure I ever will, but if you have gone through this or you are in the middle of it here’s my advice, what I had to do to overcome the major hurdles. Stop hanging out with people who bring you down and encourage you to continue in bad habits known in the Christian dictionary as “Sin”. Build relationships and spend time with people who model the type of person you want to be. If you’re habit involves something that needs to be purchased…stop purchasing it.
I happen to believe in the power of prayer. When I find myself being tugged by the world and it’s standards and my flesh, I first recognize that God would not approve then I stop and pray asking God to remove the desire, the thought, the words from me and tell Him I want to honor Him and to show me how.
To overcome the tug-o-war you truly have to put a higher purpose ahead of yourself. For me, my wife began as my reason to change and then it ALL came to a head when my first child was born. My whole perspective and purpose in life changed and that purpose meant making decisions for the betterment of me as my son’s role model as my wife’s Godly husband and as a child of the Most High God. Start today to develop a purpose bigger than yourself. You may not have a kid yet, but if you want one some day…do it for the child. If you just want to be a better follower of Christ, do it for the one who gave His life on the cross for you, who saved you from eternity in hell. Whatever your reason for making tough choices, make it big, make it important, make it something you get emotional about and run all your decisions through that filter and you will more easily overcome your flesh.