Jane slumped into the chair as a long-overdue sigh escaped her pursed lips. Looking at the floor, she said, “I screwed up again. There never seems to be an end to it. No matter how hard I try, I fail.” After her reluctant confession gushed out, silence hung over the room. She twisted and worried a Kleenex in her hands. The words hung there, and I sat silently. Secretly, I was praying for a response. Well, not just a response, but God’s response. Then I said it.
“You are not the only one who fails. You are everyone. You are me. You are every believer. Everyone’s fleshly efforts of self-improvement eventually reveal that we are utterly incapable of improving ourselves. Jesus said, ‘Flesh profits nothing.’ We must confront the failure of our fleshly efforts to become aware of our desperate need for God to accomplish every victory concerning us.” Her eyes narrowed, and her head tilted slightly to the side. She slowly blinked, and the silence was louder than before. As the words began to penetrate her perspective on her ability, she asked, “What did Jesus mean by ‘Flesh profits nothing?’”
“Flesh is anything you do apart from the indwelling life of Christ. It is you relying on your ability, your wit, your planning, your energy, your willpower. It is the branch trying to draw life and fruit from itself instead of from the vine. And by “vine,” I mean capital “V,” Vine. The soft tick of the clock seemed to accentuate my words. The pinched-up wrinkles on her forehead softened as she pondered these truths.
John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
“Do you think that is my problem?” I smiled, and a chuckle rolled out of me. “No, I think that is every believer’s problem. We start Christianity living from our ability. We miss the point that Christianity is first the receiving of Christ’s life to give us access to Christ’s divine power for every aspect of life. We could not save ourselves from spiritual death. It had to be a gift. Through self-effort and willpower, we cannot duplicate the fruit of the Spirit either. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift also. God manifests love, patience, peace, self-control, etc., through the same childlike faith that saved you from spiritual death.” She stared at the corner of the room, and the silence returned.
Like a person finding her way out of a maze, she turned to me and said, “How do I get “divine power?” Again, I needed God’s response, not a formula for self-management. “First, you must know that you already have the divine nature and power of Christ in you. Then, like salvation, it is by faith. All the striving, planning, and redoubling of your already failed self-effort will never do what falling on your face and admitting your neediness to God accomplishes.” If silence was able to be weighed, this was a golden moment.
She refolded the Kleenex before lifting her eyes to me, and this time, she smiled. Her gaze softened as one who had just discovered something mysteriously wonderful, and a sparkle of hope was in her eyes. With a dawning awareness that she was not the problem, her healing journey and victory had just begun.
Many people, like Jane, come to the Life Center looking for help. God shows our clients that His indwelling life is a resource to freedom from unwanted lies and habits and the power to establish new patterns and paths of victory.
More than wishing you a Happy New Year, we are here to help you experience a Happy New Year.
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