Have you decided that you want something better in life? Have you been told that Jesus is the way to a better life? Did you accept Jesus but are now struggling to experience His victory and freedom in your own life? You aren’t alone.
Many people who hear the Good News believe in it and are saved. They become saved the moment they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. However, even saved, they walk in bondage. They continue to walk in the ways that are known to them; the ways of the flesh.
The bondage of sin and fleshly desire runs deep in most of us. When we live many years doing things one way, we get used to it; I mean, really used to it. So, when we decide in a moment of emotion to turn to God and to follow Him, we might not be aware of what it means to “Follow” Him.
In this article, I want to reach out and encourage all who have accepted Jesus as Lord but are having a hard time experiencing His joy and peace and victory in their lives. I want to talk to those who keep making mistakes and falling back into sin, which leads to conviction from God, and, condemnation from the enemy.
I want you to know that it is hard at first to make the changes that reflect your choice for Christ, but that it is possible. With a few tweaks to your daily choices and thoughts, I am confident that you will find that victory and peace and joy that Jesus is promising His faithful followers.
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’”
Following Jesus is a choice. It’s a hard choice we must make daily, as it isn’t always the popular choice in society and among our friends. But Jesus gives us that power.
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How do I know if I’m even following Jesus?
Sometimes when we are trying to live for God, but struggle with sin and poor choices, we ask ourselves if we are even following Jesus. Sometimes we are saved when someone tells us about Jesus, but then they leave us hanging and don’t tell us how to follow Him.
To follow Jesus is to get to know Jesus. This means, read the bible to get to know His character; especially, the four Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These are the four books that showcase Jesus’ time here on earth. But Jesus is God, and the character of God is throughout the entire bible. Any page you turn to, you will see God’s love, His power, His wisdom, and His concern for our well-being.
As you learn who Jesus is, how He acted, how He treated others, and how He stood for what was right, you are given a direct example to follow. If you are trying to follow Him, but struggle to make good choices, you are also given the book of Proverbs. This book is the wisdom of God and it’s a great contrast between wise decisions and foolish decisions.
As you spend time reading the bible, which should be a daily practice for your benefit, you will start to absorb the wisdom from the book that you can apply in your own life and you will start to understand what it means to “follow” God.
1 John 2:3-6
“And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they believe in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”
The Old Sinful Nature vs. Jesus’ Spirit
We are also wise to get familiar, not only with the characteristics of Jesus, but also of our old sinful nature. As we go about our days, interacting with others in various ways and in various situations, we will experience many emotions. Our actions will reflect our thoughts. So, we must learn the right way to think and act if we want to be the example that Jesus was.
Before we meet Jesus, we have a sinful nature. This is our fleshly nature. We are born with a sinful spirit. When we hear the Good News of Christ and believe, we are to die to the old sinful spirit and become reborn to the new Spirit of Christ. But sometimes we hang on to remnants of that old spirit. If we want to walk in true freedom in Jesus, we must go back and sever all ties with the enemy.
Here are the characteristics of the sinful nature in us:
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Here are the characteristics of Jesus’ Spirit in us:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Take some time and analyze your behavior and thoughts throughout the day. If you experience any of the sinful thoughts or have desires to do the sinful things above, just know that you are perfectly normal. Satan tempts all of us the same; he even tried to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). He is called the deceiver and the enemy for a reason. But these are the two spirits we have to choose from. One will deliver destruction and the other, Victory.
Jesus can deliver you from your addictions
I spent many years trapped in alcoholism. In my teen years it was drugs. Upon marriage, my wife asked me to give up the drugs, and I did. But I traded one crutch for another as I turned to alcohol instead. The drinking started out harmless; a few here and there. But in only a short year, I started drinking heavier and heavier. Soon, I would spend seven years drunk almost every day.
I understand the traps of addictions. When we give in to it, it’s like we become powerless. Even when we ask Jesus to save us, we still can feel powerless to overcome the addictions. We must understand that Satan’s spirit is in alcohol and drugs. Even though we cry out to Jesus, we take the devil into us with every sip or every inhale of a harmful substance. What we are doing is giving up the power and control of our mind to that substance, and the spirit behind it.
Jesus sees this, but we take the power for Him to help us away from Him when we “choose” to engage in that harmful activity. When we spend each day under the influence of evil spirits, we become weak in our spirit. The main thing that Satan does to people with addictions is fills them with condemnation.
He says, “You are worthless. Go ahead; have another drink because you’re never going to amount to anything anyways.” If we listen to him long enough, we’ll even hear him say, “While you’re at it, you might as well kill yourself. No one will even notice you gone. In fact, you will be doing them a good service as you won’t be hurting them anymore.”
Satan will not stop until you are completely destroyed
Suicide rates among addicted people is high. My dad took his life when I was ten because he too heard the voice of Satan while under the influence. We can’t expect to make right decisions in life when we give away the control of our mind.
For me, when I prayed truthfully and sincerely to be delivered from the alcohol, Jesus was able to come in and help me. But it wasn’t only because I prayed; it was also because I was finally ready to walk away from the harmful substances, no matter what I needed to do.
If you want deliverance from addictions, Jesus will deliver you. He is literally right there with His hand out waiting for you to grab on and walk with Him. But first, you must let go of Satan’s hand. First, you must choose that you are finished with his lifestyle and you must be willing to do whatever it takes. You must be willing to fully surrender to Jesus and send the devil away.
Jesus will give you strength to walk with Him daily
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
When we choose Christ over Satan, Jesus will help us. He knows the enemy will keep trying to pull us into his traps, and He knows that we are weak on our own and will surely get captured easily. But Jesus says, “Hey, take my hand and I’ll pull you out of this mess. I will give you the power and help you need to break free from the fangs of the serpent. All you need to do is trust me, and me alone.”
God will not tolerate disloyalty. If we go to God and ask Him to save us, we must understand that He is expecting us to be 100% loyal to following Him. So, when we ask Him to save us, but then we go on walking in our old ways and not surrendering only to Jesus, He will allow us to live in the consequences of our choices.
When we get tired of fumbling around in the dark, we will cry out to God, and He will still be there with His hand out ready to forgive and help. Instead of this back and forth living, we are wise to make a choice first thing of every morning to get into fellowship with God and to seek out His Will for our day ahead of us.
If we do fully surrender ourselves to the service of God each morning, our day will look much different than when we don’t. God will put us in all kinds of situations where we can live as an example for Christ. We will get chances to encourage, to help, to give, and we will make better choices as we think more clearly.
Jesus will help us, but we need to give our attention and focus to Him. We need to become loyal only to Him as we make an effort to say “No” to anything that will harm us. As we walk with the Holy Spirit in us, which we receive when we accept Christ into our lives, the Spirit will guide us and prompt us in right and wrong. We must learn to listen to this voice inside us.
“Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.”
When we walk with Jesus faithfully, we share in His victory and blessing
“Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
Learning to follow Jesus fully is a process. It doesn’t just come to us. But we must put in the effort. Daily prayer and bible reading are the best ways. Understanding the example of Jesus and then doing our best to do the same is what we’re called to do. We don’t need to do good works to be saved and have victory in our lives. The good work God calls us to do is to believe in Jesus.
“Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.’”
When we trust and believe in Jesus and when we have His Spirit living on the inside of us, we won’t be able to help but to love others and want to help them and share the Good News of Christ with them. We will do good things because that’s what the Spirit of God does.
When we walk the in the way God wants us to walk, He is faithful to help us and protect us. Things might still go wrong here and there, and we will be met with trials and hardships, but God will be there to keep us upright through these times. When others are struggling, we will be maintained.
We must learn to see the hard times as God’s test for us; He is testing to see if we have grown in faith and trust for Him (James 1:2-4). If we pass the test, that is, if we don’t crumble under stress and anxiety, but instead, turn to Him for direction and help in our hard times, He will see our obedience and faith in Him. This pleases God.
God is a God of increase and multiplication. But God is a God of justice. If you do well with what He gives, more will be given. If you do poorly with what He gives, all will be taken away (Matthew 25:14-30).
If you are having a hard time following Jesus, consider giving more of yourself to Him. This means, spend more time reading the bible and praying. It means, spend more time giving praise and worship to Jesus for all He has done. If you need to be delivered from an addiction that keeps bringing you down, go to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to deliver you from the addiction for good. Ask Him to help you walk only with Jesus and to strengthen you to make better choices.
Walking with Jesus is a daily process. If at any time, we decide to take our focus off of Jesus, the enemy will be right there. When we are new or struggling believers, we are ultra-vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. We are weak when we are alone. If you need strength from Jesus, you need to get close to Him and stay under His wing of protection. This might mean abandoning harmful relationships with others who continue to engage in the old lifestyle you want to escape from.
We are called to be in fellowship with other believers. This isn’t because God is an extrovert and wants the same of us. It’s because each believer is given different strengths and gifts from God; strengths and gifts that are to be used to help fellow believers remain in fellowship of the church. We are weak when we are alone. If you keep messing up, don’t get caught up in feeling bad about it. Instead, take a stand today to fully surrender to Jesus and cut all ties to the enemy and immerse yourself in your local bible believing church with other faithful followers of Jesus!
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you can follow this link (Prayer for Salvation) to find out how. Also, if you need prayer for your life or your family, feel free to fill out a private prayer request in the provided prayer box in this article. My wife and I would love to pray for you.