Cover Story Good Advice Feature Video Hot Topics

 

 

 



Hot topic of the week


Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

What do YOU think?


Click here join in the discussion.

Web Bonus


Miranda Writes: Dead Man Walking, Part 2




by Omar Miranda

Every day, we have to decide whether to die to self or not

Last week, we talked about making two New Year’s resolutions: (1) to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and (2) to love others as we love ourselves. But we quickly realized this was easier said than done because of the sinful nature we’re all born with. However, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit working inside each of us, we can overcome the old sinful nature and be kind, gentle, thoughtful, unselfish, and more Christlike individuals.

Sinners don’t feel bad or get frustrated when they can’t do right. To be honest, they don’t really think about it because it’s not in their nature. But we Christians do get frustrated about that. There’s a constant war going on inside of us. We struggle a lot with this issue, not because we’re worried about always being good and perfect, but because we want to be like Jesus. The most difficult war we Christians face is the war going on inside of us between the sinful nature we were born with and the spiritual nature that the Holy Spirit provides when we pray to be born again in Christ (see John 3:5-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

It’s really important to understand that when we’re tempted to sin, the temptation can come from Satan or the world—or many times, even from ourselves, because we’re born sinful. Now, this is an idea that you’ll rarely hear from people today. In today’s culture people say things such as “We’re basically good” and “We can change ourselves and fix our own problems because we’re smart enough.”

This is a belief that’s similar to the lie Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden: “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). But the Bible tells us that we’re all sinful and born into sin. The Bible also tells us in James 1:13-15: “Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead” (CEV).1

The apostle Paul (his Latin name) was called Saul (his Hebrew name) before his conversion. Saul was a psycho when it came to attacking the followers of Christ (see Acts 7:57, 58; 8:1, 3; and 9:1, 2)! On Saul’s way to Damascus, he had a personal encounter with Jesus that led to his conversion (see Acts 9:1-22). Obviously at that point, Paul put his psycho days behind him, but he still experienced within himself the discouraging struggle between flesh and spirit.

My own worst enemy

He describes this in Romans 7:14-25: “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (NLT).2

We’ve all felt like Paul, haven’t we? Maybe you’re feeling this way right now. But the solution is  simple—kill the natural sinful self! Now, don’t go calling the police on me. This is God’s solution to the sin problem. 

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ died in our place to take the penalty for our sins. He was perfect and sinless, but He became sin for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Yeah, I know; I still can’t understand that completely, either. Paul explains it like this in Galatians 2:20: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (NLT).

Did you catch that? Paul says that when he accepted Christ’s death by faith as a payment for his sin, his natural sinful old self was crucified [and died] with Christ, and the person that is alive now in Paul’s body isn’t Paul, but Jesus! I know it’s confusing. On your own, read Romans 6:1-14 for further clarification.
At the beginning of each new day, remind yourself that the sinful old you is dead. Instead, Jesus is in charge—but only as long as you choose for Him to be. God created us with total freedom. We get to decide whether to love and serve Him or not. But if we do choose Him, then we have to give ourselves to Him completely. Surrendering our will to God so that He can call the shots is the best—and also the most difficult—thing we’ll ever do.  Every day, we’ll have to make the decision all over again to die to self. We’ll be “dead men and women walking” for God!

Jesus said: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Luke 9:23, 24, NLT).

So, let’s go back to the question I asked last week: How is it possible for you and me to actually get outside of ourselves and truly love God and others with all that we’ve got? The answer is that we can’t—but God can. You and I need to always remind ourselves of this:“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

1Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
2Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





Top | Home