Rats? Go Wireless!

Our selfish nature. Our old habits. Paul describes this continuous frustration we have in the war within ourselves. We know what the right thing to do is. So why can’t we do what is right?

Read Romans 7:15 – 25.

It’s our sinful nature. Even though we have decided in our hearts to follow Jesus and therefore are filled with the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that selfishness of our sinful nature lingers in our lives. This could be our old response patterns, anger, lying, criticism, self-absorption, or impulse reactions. C.S. Lewis called these lurking habits the “rats” that hide in the cellar of our hearts. They show up as automatic reactions to spontaneous circumstances. Now normally, if you have rats in your basement at home, you are most likely to see them if you go down there very suddenly. With the lights on. The rats are always in the cellar. In the same way, if we use anger as an example, the suddenness of what provokes the anger in you to have this old habit reaction doesn’t make you an angry person – it only shows you what an angry person you are.

Read Romans 7: 17, 20, 23, 5.

Because of God’s grace and forgiveness, there is no need to be afraid of this frustration. Let’s look at how we can tackle it and get rid of it over time. Grace means that when God brings His light to the cellar, our hearts, where the rats (our bad habits of our sinful nature) are, we can be sure that He wants to build us up. When God corrects us, His correction and discipline are about Love not condemnation.

Read Romans 8:1-2. And make a note to read Romans 7 & 8 later today and this week.

God continues to work on us, whether you are a “new” Christian or you have walked faithfully with God all your life and you are now 100 years old. We as believers have the purpose of becoming “mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Read Ephesians 4: 12 – 15

It’s obvious that we could never in this life reach such a high standard as the fullness of Christ. But we are called to persevere toward that as long as we are on earth to experience real substantial spiritual growth and maturity.

In Hebrews 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 3:2, the illustration of spiritual maturity is going from milk that babies drink to being able to digest solid food. This path of spiritual maturity, this path of righteousness for His names’ sake, though, is not for our own glory.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says what? By grace we have been saved through faith. Not from ourselves. It’s the gift of God. Not by our works. So that no one can boast. And because this has nothing to do with us, by God’s grace and forgiveness there is no need to be afraid. Grace means that when God brings His light to bear on the outposts of our selfish nature, we can be sure that He wants to build us up. When God corrects us, His correction and discipline are about Love not condemnation. We therefore are given the freedom to be transparent before God as David stated.

Read Psalm 139: 23-24

But how does this process happen? God brings light into our dark corners in our moments when we realize that we won’t change without Him. The Holy Spirit who is God – our triune God – the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – 3 persons in one God – uses His Word and our life experiences to do this. Have you ever read a Scripture for the second time, for the tenth time, for the twentieth time, maybe looked at a commentary or a different commentary in your study Bible, and gotten something different out of it? God’s Word is a reality check against all the other voices – the voices of our Adversary, more appealing voices, the voices of the rats in our cellar, our heart. As we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit, who as Christians lives in us, exposes our hearts and whispers to us. We may be doing good works but we might be doing them to be noticed or hear “Good job.” by our supervisor or our parents. Nothing wrong with hearing that at all. But we ought to please God, not men. If our motivation is not to please God, then our hearts are in no better state than the Pharisees and religious leaders during Jesus’ time. And what did they do? They rejected Jesus and crucified Him. That tendency we have to seek our own glory affects our relationships with each other and God. This healthy spiritual dynamic between the Scriptures and our hearts is an essential element of our spiritual growth and maturity. Scripture exposes our rats, unearths the stuff we want to bury. But God does it little by little because He loves us. We are His children. He wants to help us grow up. That’s why He allows us to go through hardship. It refines us.

Read Hebrews 12:7 – 11

Hardship in itself, experiences alone, don’t make us wise. We first need to realize we need help. Why did God allow Israel, His chosen children, to go through 40 years in the desert after generations of slavery in Egypt then enemy attacks continuously throughout the books of Joshua and Judges and in King Saul’s reign and King David’s rule? Why are the Old Testament prophets, like Isaiah & Jeremiah, filled with the messages of “This is what’s going to happen, Israel.” along with the Lord saying “Come back to me.” God’s Word enables us to understand what habits cause us to mess up our relationships. As His Word speaks to our experiences, we can – with His involvement – begin to correct our bad habits. To be humble before God is to have a willingness to learn from our mistakes and be eager for God to coach us and give us His counsel.

Read John 14:26

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. The Holy Spirit is our Coach, our Counselor, our Teacher, our Advocate, our Helper, our Strengthener, our Intercessor, our Standby, who always gives us guidance in line with the Scriptures and the character of Jesus. It’s a wireless communication link between the heart of God and our hearts. The Holy Spirit makes safe and possible the heart-level, day to day intimacy between us and God.

Read Psalm 11:1

True safety and refuge is found only in God. How about that for a bit of coaching and counsel from God? Here’s another:

Read 1 Corinthians 2:9 – 11

All this profound work of coaching and counsel happens quietly in our hearts. This work of the Holy Spirit powerfully and invisibly influences our heart and minds. The effect is apparent in a person’s attitudes and behaviors. And it renews our mind.

Read Romans 12:2

We need to care for our minds by reading Scripture. The paradox though is that when we are strong, it is not that we are strong – we are aware of our weakness and lean on God’s strength.

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9

Parenting, education, therapy, and self improvement methodologies can all be used by God to build our character and change our hearts. But the Spirit has to be part of that process as well.

Read Galatians 5:22 – 23

The fruit is of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is involved. With all this effort that the Holy Spirit goes through, through the Word of God and our experiences, we still have to respond in humility. We may not feel any different immediately, but the heart change happens through confession and prayer.

Read 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16 (and read v. 7 – 18 this week as well).