Learning to Possess Your Possessions
Many of us are not living up to our profession in Christ. I know a lot of Christians who are saved, but they’re not living victorious lives. Something’s wrong—something’s missing. There’s a gap between what the Bible says they are in Christ and what they are in reality. The Bible says we are complete in the Lord Jesus Christ—that is, in the Lord Jesus we don't have need of anything in the spiritual realm. But how many Christians would remind you of somebody like that?
The Bible says we are overcomers. But most believers I know are overcome, behaving like victims rather than victors. The Bible says when we're saved we have the “peace that passes understanding” and “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Romans chapter 8 teaches that in Christ we are “more than conquerors.” I wonder if we're conquerors at all.
Now where's the problem? I mean, what about this contradiction? Do you think you're right and the Bible is wrong? We want to somehow bring the Bible down to our lives rather than bring our lives up to the Bible.
In a battle once, it happened that the flag got out ahead of the regiment in the fighting, and a soldier asked, “Sergeant, the flag's out ahead of the regiment. Shall I bring it back?” Sergeant said, “No! Bring the regiment up to the flag.”
That's what we need to do in our Christian life—bring our lives up to the standard God has for us. The truth of the matter is, we are overcomers; we do have peace that passes understanding. Jesus Christ is made into us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Now what is the key?
Provision and appropriation.
God has made provision for us, but that provision does us no good until we appropriate what God has done for us.
What’s the difference between provision and appropriation? When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He died for the world. Jesus Christ is the propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins (First John 2:2) of the whole world. But is there still sin in the world? Of course! Why? Because people have not appropriated what Jesus did on the cross. "He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed" (John 3:18). Provision has been made, but he has not appropriated that which is his.
When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, going into Canaan, God told Joshua, “Every place the sole of your foot shall tread upon have I given you." Not “I will give it to you,” but “I have already given it to you. It's already yours.” It was theirs, but they had to possess their possessions.
You have so much that you have not yet possessed. There is God's provision, but there must be your appropriation. It doesn't matter what God has done for you. if you don't appropriate it, it won't be yours.
How many of you have books in your library at home that you haven't read yet? Now is that book yours? Yes. But you haven't possessed your possessions. you haven’t appropriated that which is yours.
With that in mind, in Romans chapter 7, we learn how to appropriate. The first step in possessing your possessions is:
Learn Dying and Start Living
You will never possess your possessions until you come to the end of your self. learn dying and start living. Die to the old ways. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him take up his cross." A cross is not for wearing around your neck, it's for dying on. You die! The old person within you dies so you can become a new person. "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall find it." When you lose your life for his sake and the gospel's, then you find it. You say, I'm sick and tired of the old life, I'm sick and tired of trying to please the law. I can't do it, Jesus. You died for me, I died with you, I come to the end of that old way. Learn dying and then you'll start living.
The reason that so many of us are not filled with the Spirit is, we're so stuffed full of ourselves, there's not room for Him. We have to come to the end of ourselves and learn dying, so we can start living.
Stop Trying and Start Trusting
"What shall we say, then, is the law sin?" No, there's nothing wrong with Mr. Law. "God forbid. No, I had not known sin except by the law…”(Romans 7:7). The law kept telling me to do this and not to do that.
And now I want you to notice something very interesting. From 7:7-24, three words stand out over and over and over again: “the law,” and “I,” one of them over forty times:
"What shall we say, then, is the law sin? God forbid. Nay I had not known sin but by the law, for I have not known lust except the law had said."(7) "For I was alive and I died,"(9) verse 10, "I found thee," (10) verse 11, "deceived me and slew me," (11) verse 13, "me," (13) verse 14, "I am carnal,"(14) verse 15, "that which I do I allow not, what I would, that I do not and what I hate, that I do." (15)
I, I, I, I! 40 times! Paul is talking about himself, but he’s also talking about all of us.
The next major word is the word law. That's used in this passage some twenty times.
A lost man cannot keep the law of God, and I'm telling you also that a saved man cannot keep the law of God in his own strength. Paul found that out!
"For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing, for to will is present with me but how to perform that which is good, I find not." (v.18)
You been there? Every one of us has. I want to serve God, I delight in the law of God in the inward man, but I find another law present in me.
Now what did Paul discover? He came to the place where he was almost brokenhearted. "Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body, or from the body of this death?" (v. 24).
There's the question, and thank God, he gives the answer (v. 25): "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." That is, deliverance comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.
You learn dying so you can start living. You stop trying and start trusting. The way you live the victorious life is not by trying. It’s not you and the law, but God has provided a victory for you, and that victory is with the new person you're married to, that's Jesus Christ. He is Love.
Love tells you to do something, then He just turns around and does it with you or for you. You say, “This is wonderful.” He says, “I want the bed made this way. Come, I'll show you how to do it, I'll help you to do it.” He puts His hands on your hands and guides you, and everything you need, every demand—listen to me, precious friend—every demand of God upon your life is a demand on the Jesus Christ who lives in you
You can't do it. The sooner you throw up your hands and you say, Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this dead body? hear the answer: I thank God deliverance comes through Jesus Christ.
"There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh," that is the old nature, "but after the Spirit."
In chapter 7 the Spirit is not mentioned at all. But now notice the change the atmosphere in chapter 8!
"There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit (1), for the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (2) "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."(4) "For ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (9)
How do you live the Christian life? Friend, it is the Holy Spirit of God in you. Now remember there's the law of sin and death. There's the law of God, the righteous law of Moses, but there's another law. In Romans chapter 8, "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
It’s like an airplane. You'd think it would never get off the ground because what holds it to the ground is a law—the law of gravity. But there's another law, the law of aerodynamics, and somehow the wind flowing over those wings gives a lift to the plane, and though it weighs tons and tons, there's another power greater than the law of gravity that lifts that monster off the ground.
The downward pull in your life is like gravity, but there's a new law—the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. "Unto those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
When you say, “Oh, God, I can't, and You never said I could, but oh, God, You can, and You always said You would. Now, Lord, I stop trying and I start trusting,” when you stop trying, when you bow your head and say, “I can't do it. Lord I trust you,” then at that time, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes you free from the law of sin and death.
Learn dying and start living. Stop trying and start trusting.
The third step is…
Quit Crying and Start Praising
Quit that crying “Oh, wretched man that I am…”(v.24), and start praising, “I thank God through Jesus Christ.” Begin to say, “God, you didn't save me to have me to live a failing life. Lord, You saved me that I might live a victorious life, and Lord, You have given all of this to me. Now by Your grace and for Your glory, I’m going to possess my possessions.”
What are your thoughts on new age thinking? Is there a choice in pro-choice? Is evolution fact or fiction? Does character matter to you? How has tolerance been affected by society? Pastor Adrian Rogers deals with difficult questions head on in this collection on current issues.