The first house I built had a stone exterior. When the mason removed the polyethylene sheeting protecting the soffits from mortar, he unknowingly left about a square–foot piece up high on the wall. I saw that tattered plastic every time I was out in the yard, but I needed a ladder to get it down. So I just got used to it. I'm not even sure I removed it when I sold the house.
When we get used to things we tolerate them—the squeak in the floor, the pain in the back, the lack of money, the fear of bad news. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why am I putting up with this?” Have you ever considered that you have a choice?
This study needs to be read in its entirety, so please catch up before continuing.
Because Jesus has overcome the world (see John 16:33), He has deprived the world of its power to harm us, and He has subverted the world's influence over us. Whatever has put us up against the wall, He has conquered. We do not have to be the man against the wall; we can be the man in charge. We simply cannot be controlled, against our will, by what Jesus has conquered.
If something has us against the wall, we are not powerless to resist—as if we were innocent tourists in Mexico being frisked by crooked Federales. No… we can turn around, grab the thing by the throat, and switch places so we become the ones in control.
For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died; And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake. (2 Corinthians 5:14–15 Amp Bible)
If we are controlled by anything other than the love of Christ, it is because we unwittingly choose to put up with it. (Yes, I could deliver that line in a sermon, while sucking in air and pounding the pulpit. But I deliver it to you as encouragement.) Jesus paid dearly so we would never have to be under the control of anything other than His love for us.
But what about those exceptions we talked about yesterday? “What about the cancer that had Aunt Sally against the wall… and she died?” “What about the missionary that was up against the wall in Iran… and he was beheaded?”
You and I barely know what is going on in our own minds, let alone in the mind of another person. Maybe Aunt Sally didn't know how to switch positions and put the cancer up against the wall. Maybe she was just tired of the fight. Maybe the missionary wanted to be martyred for his faith so he could be with Jesus. Maybe he was tired of the fight. (I've had plenty of days when being with Jesus in person sure was a lot more appealing than staying in the fight.) What's important is for you to realize you have the control; but it's your choice to use it.
I empty the power of God's Word in my life when I have more faith in the exception than I do the Word. There are a few things in my own life that currently have me up against the wall, but I am working quickly to change my position in these situations. I have learned to control past opposition and I will learn to control this present opposition. And things are not always as they seem.
Let's take a look at the ultimate exception—Jesus dying on the Cross. It sure looks like the “steal, kill, and destroy” crowd won that one. They at least thought they had won:
The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: 'After three days I will rise from the dead.' So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we'll be worse off than we were at first.” (Matthew 27:62–64 NLT).
But they were not in control. Jesus is, was, and always will be in control:
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:17–18 NKJV)
As a little kid, I remember thinking how unfair it was that somebody killed Jesus. I remember wishing Pilot had more backbone, then maybe Jesus' death wouldn't have been necessary. People who don't understand the power of the Cross will talk about the injustice of Jesus dying; they will spin a tale about the battle between good and evil.
But Jesus was never the man against the wall. He was the man in charge. Nobody could have killed Him without His consent. He couldn't have even been arrested without His consent.
Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53 NKJV)
He is the Man in charge. And He has made it possible for each of us to be the man in charge—in charge in “this” life to an extent we will probably never fully experience.
What are you putting up with? What has come against you that you've just become used to? Please think about it before we continue tomorrow.
Have a good day,