From the LYWB.com team: Hey girls, meet Sharon! She’s interning here with us at Revive Our Hearts. God has put some cool things on her heart that we wanted to pass along to you.
Recently, I read a short clip in World Magazine about Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates. It quoted him as saying, “I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don’t know.” I barely noticed it until later when I was faced with the temptation to skip my Bible reading for the day.
That’s when I thought, There ya go, Bill Gates. This is a decision I make differently because I believe. I don’t skip my daily Bible reading.
But here’s the thing, I actually skip my daily Bible reading a lot. In fact, I almost always ignore it if I’m busy or tired. And to be honest, sometimes I skip just because I don’t want to hear from God.
I felt sad about that for a while, but my mind is a wondrous comforter when it comes to justifying my sin. And I soon remembered all my other righteous “don’ts” that come from my belief in God.
It’s not about the don’ts.
I don’t murder, drink, sleep around. There are in fact a lot of things I don’t do because I believe in God. But then, don’t we all?
Wouldn’t most moral people tell you they don’t murder? Why don’t they murder each other? Because they believe. They may not believe in the God of the Bible, but they do believe in something. Allah, themselves, the law—most people believe in something that restrains them from rampant wickedness.
But then I’m supposed to be different from the followers of other faiths. So what exactly does my belief in Jesus Christ really mean? How am I different from the devout Muslim who also believes? Or the ardent atheist who believes? What is it that I don’t do because I believe? It’s when I asked that question that I realized it’s not what I DON’T do, it’s what I CAN do because I believe in Christ.
Now, I don’t know about the rest of my fellow believers in Christ, but a lot of times I think, Don’t do that, Sharon. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, dishonor my parents, gossip, get angry, lust. I’ve spent the majority of my life saying, “I DON’T do those things because I believe in God—in Christ.” (Usually with quite a righteous air about me.)
But here’s the catch. I’ve done all those—multiple times. I’ve failed my Savior daily. I’ve spent weeks in frustration time and time again because I did what I wasn’t supposed to do. And it isn’t until I stopped focusing on the “don’ts” and started focusing on Christ that I gained victory over my sinful failures.
You see, what makes my belief different from that of Bill Gates or others is that it’s not about the decisions I make. But it is Christ’s work in me that gives me the ability to make good decisions.
Learning to walk in the Spirit.
First Corinthians 6:19 says, “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.” And again in John 16:13: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” Over and over again, God’s Word talks about the Holy Spirit working within us—moving us, guiding us, strengthening us. This means that the Spirit of an all-holy, all-righteous God lives inside of me—and inside you if you’ve accepted His gift of salvation.
I’ve known that most of my life. (I think most Christians would tell you they know that.) But my problem is a vast portion of my life has been focused on what I shouldn’t do. And in the standards, the rules, the “DON’T do that, Sharon,” I’ve forgotten about the Spirit. As a result, I’ve fallen into sin so many times that I’ve lost count. As I’ve groaned and ached under the burden of “don’ts,” I’ve found myself in the muck of “already did.”
If it’s just about the decisions we make, well, Bill Gates is right. In and of myself, I not only don’t, but I CAN’T do anything differently. Even the great apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 7:19 when he states, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” I may desperately want freedom from my sin, but a set of “don’ts” can’t and won’t free me.
You see, victory over sin starts when I stop assuming responsibility of the boulder of “don’ts” (that isn’t mine to carry), and instead, I start embracing the Spirit of God. Suddenly, I can do what I know is right because the Spirit carries the boulder for me. In and of myself, I have nothing—do nothing—which merits the term righteous. But when I live in the Spirit of God, I can do that which is righteous—I can be righteous.
I know this to be true not just from experience, but because Paul says in Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” While I’ve created the “don’ts” (standards) to keep me from the flesh, I must realize that if I really want to conquer it, I must learn to walk in the Spirit.
Instead of focusing on the “don’ts,” focus on the “cans.”
With that in mind, I’ve decided to change up my thinking. I no longer abstain from certain things because I believe. Instead, because I believe in God—in Christ—I can. I can know freedom from sin. I can love my Savior, as I should. I can enjoy peace with my friends and family. I can rest in Christ’s love and forgiveness. I can be counted righteous. No longer is it what I DON’T do; it’s what I CAN do because I believe.
How about you? What do you do differently because you believe in Jesus?
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