Saturday, May 31, 2008

How to say no, chapter 9

Continuing on with my notes from How To Say No to a Stubborn Habit by Erwin Lutzer:

Chapter 9, The Taming of Your Will

Lutzer defines our will as our decision-making faculty, often caught between our thoughts and desires. "Your emotions express how you feel; your mind says what you know, but your will tells you what you want."

"God does not save you by circumventing your will. He works through it, giving you the ability to choose...Your will does not become passive when you yield to God. A surrendered will experiences struggle, as Christ's conflict in Gethsemane demonstrates."

Our will is influenced by our goals and priorities; i.e., we may not want to get up when the alarm clock goes off, but if we value our jobs, we will get up anyway. Short term goals can help give direction but they are not enough for "a meaningful and satisfying life...Only eternal values can give meaning to temporal ones."

Moses is one example of being motivated by eternal purposes: "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:24-27). Christ is another: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38).

We also need to "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (I Cor. 4:18).

"Your goals are the foundation of your larger beliefs about life and about yourself. Within the framework of your ultimate you forumate your short-term goals.""Your momentary feelings are not a good guide toward fulfilling desirable goals. Paul had his body in control: 'But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.' (I Cor. 9:27)."

We have God's help to do His will, but often the very point of conflict is wanting our will instead of His. We think we need our wills to be stronger, but they are plenty strong enough! What we need is a surrendered will (Psalm 51:17). When we yield to Him, then we find the resources to do what He requires. "You can't say no to temptation unless you say yes to God."

(Disclaimer: My purpose in jotting down these notes is not to post "the answer" so that people don't have to buy the book: on the contrary, I hope anyone struggling with persistent sin will buy the book. There is so much more there that is so rich. Rather, this is just an exercise for me to review what I have read and studied.)

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