When Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, the once-dead man staggered, maybe even hopped, out of the tomb in his shroud. The grave clothes that Lazarus was still wearing were the bindings his loved ones had smeared with burial ointment to mask the odor of decaying flesh. They had wrapped his body thinking that he needed them. Jesus instructed the by-standers, “Unbind him and let him go!”
Jesus is still calling Christians today to unbind other believers by helping them get rid of the grave clothes of the past life.
Since we are no longer spiritually decaying, who needs to smell like it? But how do I get free?
When you see another brother overtaken in a fault, a grave cloth, the scripture instructs you to notice it, take the beam out of your own eye so that you can see clearly to help the other brother to freedom in a spirit of meekness. We are to remember that no matter how long we’ve been Christians; we can be tempted, too. This is why no one is better able to help another than that one who has also struggled and overcome.
What good is a renewal if it has no effect on moral character? Unbelievers want to know and even expect that when someone says he is a Christian, his life will change. They are often the first to notice hypocrisy. Like it or not, the devil is out to make a hypocrite of you, to make your life a slap in the face of Jesus Christ. He wants you to become a living testimony to the fact that Jesus Christ does NOT have the power to save and cleanse a person from sin. He wants you to live your Christian life wrapped up in the grave clothes of the life you once lived, so that you hide the Good News.
When you are a Christian, you are a new creation. Everything old has passed from your eternal spirit, which will now live forever with God. The problem is that the spiritual “you” is still wadded up in a physical body that is capable of being tempted. The Good News is that God’s power that lives in you is able to overcome and cleanse the outside to look like the new inside! What has already happened to the spirit in a moment will happen to the soul through a process called sanctification, the process by which the natural man gives way to the One who lives inside. You can actually die to sin and death by practicing resisting temptation. You can, with God’s help and that of others, learn how to take possession of your own body in sanctification and honor. (I Thess. 4: 4)
Overcoming an addiction is part of removing your grave clothes. For addiction to release its binding power over you, you first have to admit that you have it. This is breaking denial. The next step is surrendering to God and then asking for help from the bystanders who probably already “smell” your problem! The best ones to ask are those who know what the battle is like and who won’t condemn you in your struggle to let go.
We have asked several Christians we know and trust, ones who have struggled and overcome, to help you with the issue of sexual addiction and its hindering power. As you read this magazine, submit yourself to their wisdom, which comes from God and you, too, will be free---and smell like it, too!
Originally Published March/April 2008 Editor Melinda Fish
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