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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Win The War Within

Joel Osteen - Win The War Within

Joel Osteen - Win The War Within
TOPICS: 15 Ways to Live Longer and Healthier, Inner Man, Spiritual Growth

There's a battle taking place inside each one of us. It's a battle between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh shows out in things such as jealousy, pride, compromise. Your flesh is the easy way to live. You don't have to be disciplined. You just do whatever you feel like doing. Someone's rude to you: you be rude back to them. When you see that coconut cream pie on the kitchen counter, you don't think twice about having your fourth piece. The flesh wants to rule. It wants to have control. In Romans 8, Paul said, "Those who live by the dictates of the flesh".

Notice he describes the flesh as a dictator. What do dictators do? They make all the decisions for you. They tell you what to do, when to do it. You just follow orders. If you get stuck in traffic, the flesh will tell you, "Get upset. This is ruining your day". The problem is, "If you keep giving into the flesh," Paul goes on to say, "You will die". That doesn't mean to die physically, of course, but your dreams will die: your relationships won't flourish: your gifts won't come out like they should. What's the problem? You're letting the flesh win the war. Anytime you're tempted to compromise, be lazy, give into temptation, there's another option: to walk in the spirit. That means you do the right thing when it's hard: you bite your tongue when someone is rude: you stay faithful in your relationship when someone is trying to lure you away.

How we handle the desires of the flesh can impact the health of our lives. Our health and happiness is often affected by our outlook. The scripture tells us you overcome evil with good. You never overcome disrespect with more disrespect. You never get ahead by doing to others the wrongs they've done to you. You can't control how everyone treats you, but you can control how you respond. When someone is rude, you don't have to get upset. When they cut you off in traffic, that day doesn't have to be ruined. When a coworker leaves you out, you can stay in peace, knowing that God is fighting your battles. When you take the high road, you'll enjoy your life more. You'll see God trust you with more influence and more favor.

Sometimes, we've trained ourselves to respond a certain way: "If that person says this, I'm going to get upset". "If my crazy uncle makes fun of me one more time, I'm going to tell him off". The problem is you're letting them control you. Why don't you take your controls back? Jesus said, "Stop allowing yourself to get upset". Someone can't make you get upset. You have to give them permission to upset you. You have to make the choice, "I'm offended," "I'm discouraged," "I'm sour". No, the next time someone pushes your buttons, just smile and say, "Not this time. I'm staying in peace. I'm going to protect my heart, my mental well-being. I'm going to enjoy this day".

The next time you're tempted to be jealous, find fault, say something critical, tell your flesh, "No, I'm not going there. I'm going to be happy for them. I'm going to see the best in people". When you feel like staying up late, playing on the computer all night, feeding your body junk food, tell your flesh, "Not tonight. I'm going to go to bed. I'm going to take care of myself". The next time the friend who's causing you to compromise wants to hang out, tell him, "Sorry, I can't hang out tonight". Paul said in Galatians 5, "The flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit, what is contrary to the flesh. They are constantly fighting each other".

Your choices will never be free from this conflict. Like it or not, this battle will never go away. So this is something we have to get skilled at doing over and over. In countries that are ruled by a dictator, often, we see the person in charge oppressing the people, pushing them down. People have to take drastic measures to rise up and overthrow the dictator. It's the same way with us. The only way our flesh is going to come off the throne is if we forcefully remove it. It's not going to go easily. When someone does you wrong and you choose to forgive, the flesh will have a fit: "Come on, get even. Pay them back. This is not right". You have to put your foot down. Say, "Sorry, but you don't control me anymore. I've taken you off the throne. I walk by the spirit and not the flesh". That's when you grow. That's when God can trust you with more. The scripture says, "No discipline at the time seems pleasant, but later on, you will reap a harvest of good things".

Being disciplined is not easy. Walking away when someone is rude, not giving in to temptation, getting up early to excel at work, that's difficult. Even now, when I get stuck in traffic, that impatience tries to get back on the throne. It wants to dictate my life. That's why Paul said to the Corinthians, "I die daily". Now, Paul is one of the heroes of faith, one of the most prolific writers of the New Testament. You would think he was so powerful, so mature, he wouldn't have to deal with these issues, yet he said, "Every day I have to take my flesh off the throne. Every day I have to put down carnal desires".

When you gave your life to Christ, when you were born again, the scripture says you became a new creation. "The old things have passed away". I'd love to tell you that means you'll never have any more carnal desires, you'll never want to be jealous, rude, complain. No, the old man may have died, but that doesn't mean he won't try to come back up. Ephesians 4, says, "Put off the old man and put on the new man". Even though you're a new creation, you have to put off the old. Every day that old man is trying to get back up and run your life.

"Well, Joel, I can't control my temper". "I can't break this addiction". "I can't keep my eyes on the right things". Quit telling yourself that. Your old man is not that strong. The reason he's controlling you is that you keep feeding him. Whatever you feed is going to grow. Every time you give into that temptation, you're feeding it. It's getting stronger. Every time you're offended, you're impatient, you say things you shouldn't, you're feeding the negative. Do yourself a favor: quit feeding that old man. If you'll start starving the bitterness, starving the jealousy, the bad habits, the compromise, it will get weaker and weaker. That desire may not totally go away: God may not totally remove it, but this is when discipline steps in. This is when his grace shows up. Ask God to help you. Ask for his strength.

When you admit your dependence on him, you humble yourself and say, "God, I can't do this on my own. I can't defeat this giant. It's not going away". That's when God will step in and help you fight that battle. The scripture says in John 4, "Greater is he that's in you than he that's coming against you". That force inside of you is greater than any force that's trying to stop you. Invite God into that struggle. Start putting on that new man. Instead of surrendering to the defeat of the dictator, of that flesh, you can thank God for empowering you, and overthrow that old man, something like, "Father, thank you that I'm strong: I'm disciplined: I'm anointed: I'm favored. Today I will make decisions that honor you".

I found that I'm at my happiest and healthiest when I'm with people who inspire me to pursue God's best. My wife, Victoria, is an incredible voice of wisdom and encouragement in my life and in the lives of so many others. I wanted to sit down with her and discuss some of these strategies that have helped our church, our family, and our relationships grow stronger and healthier over the years.

Joel Osteen: We're talking about winning the war within, and there's always that battle between the flesh and the spirit, between our carnal desires and, you know, who God made us to be. And I remember, Victoria, when we first got married and we were about to go somewhere, I said, "Victoria, are you ready to go"? And you said, "Yeah, I'm ready". And I'd go get in the car, and your "Ready" meant "I'm generally ready". "I'm going to be there in 10 or 15 minutes". That used to get me so uptight. You know, I'm all this, you know, I naturally deal with impatience. I'm a driver. I'm ready to go. I like to move fast. But it's funny how, you know, God uses people in your life to refine you. I sometimes like sandpaper to rub the rough edges off of you, but we have to be willing to let him change us. I mean, even today, I could still be impatient: "Let's get going". I was telling these guys, "I like to shoot fast". But you know what? We should be growing. We should be developing. Some of those things that we fight may not ever go away, but we can continue to rise higher. Now I've learned to just relax and go with the flow. You say that that may be in a few minutes but, you know, not getting stuck where we are, not saying, "Well, I'm just rude," "I'm just impatient," "I'm just critical," "I'm just negative". No, those are things that we can rise above, and, you know, if the situation is not changing, maybe God's using the situation to change you.

Victoria Osteen: I think that's so true because, you know, there's a lot of things that we do whether it's learned behavior. Maybe our families always did it or, you know, and it was just a learned behavior, but there's so many things that, you know, we can change, and I think God wants us to change. That's why he put me in your life because you had a lot of changing to do. No, I'm kidding, hah-hah, kind of. I'm not really kidding, but kind of. But, yeah, I think, you know, once we recognize those things that need to be changed, you know, because it could have been so easy for us to argue...

Joel Osteen: Yeah.

Victoria Osteen: You know, because I was like, "Well, I'm coming," and you were waiting, and, you know, it could've caused an argument. And so, you know, we have to avoid those things. We have to give each other room to be who we are and then again realize that there's those things inside of us that we could work on, and so I think that's really great. And I think, to feed that, you know, how do you do that? You know, how do you feed the good and starve the bad? You know, and I think with the Word of God, you know, you come to God, and you go, "Help me with this impatience," or "Help me with this anger issue," or "Help me with, you know, being worried or suspicious". I mean, I had a friend who was suspicious about everything, suspicious about anyone. You know, if they were talking, she was always looking at the angle they were coming from, and, you know, and so she had to work through that because you can't go through life just being suspicious. Yeah, you want to have wisdom, but you just can't go through life being suspicious of every action that someone makes. But I think we have to take those things to God, and we have to say, "God, you know, I'm recognizing this in myself. Will you help me"? Find the scripture and try to, you know, like you and i, we didn't argue about that. We understood one another.

Joel Osteen: Yeah.

Victoria Osteen: So if it's in a spousal relationship, you know, there's going to always be things that, you know, there's things today that really have been the same. They've always been, but we've learned to grow with it, and go with it. So, like you said, there's some things that may never completely go away...

Joel Osteen: Yeah.

Victoria Osteen: But you can work around them, and you can manage them with good communication and with the fact that we try, you know? I try. I think I've done way better. Now I'm in the car, waiting for you.

Joel Osteen: Haven't got over that lyin' spirit yet. I like this. I like to think to myself, you know, I don't want to be where I am at this same place next year as I am right now. In other words, every year we should be growing. I think, five years from now, we should look back and "Am I kinder? Am I more patient? Am I more considerate? Am I better off in my career"? So these are things that, you know, let's don't let the flesh win. Let's let the spirit win and become all God's created us to be.

Remember the story of Abigail? She had a difficult husband, Nabal, who insulted and deeply offended David before he was king. David and his men would've killed Nabal along with every man in his house had it not been for Nabal's wife, Abigail. This wise woman intervened, keeping David from carrying out his vengeance. Abigail described her husband as a fool. The scripture says he was rude, harsh, hot-tempered, hardheaded, dishonest, ungrateful: that he spent most of his life as a drunk. It's interesting that Abigail was the opposite of her husband. She was not only beautiful in body and spirit, but she was very wise. When she and her servants met David and his armed forces with a large provision of food and wine, she bowed down in humility and apologized for Nabal's offense. She calmed David down and kept him from making a mistake that would have impacted his destiny.

Nabal is symbolic of our old nature, hot-tempered, rude, ungrateful, stuck in addictions. The name Nabal even means "Fool". As long as the old man is alive in us, we'll never meet the new man. The old man is seen in bitterness, bad attitudes, compromise, but your destiny is too great to let the same issues keep you from seeing the new man. Nabal died not long after that, and all he's remembered for is his hot temper. What a sad way to go out. I wonder how much higher we would go in life if we'd start putting off the old man. Sometimes a little thing is keeping us from big blessings, maybe a little pride or a little compromise, "I just have this one friend I still party with," "Just this one temptation I give in to," "Just this one person I won't forgive".

No, it's time to get rid of Nabal. Put the old man down. Put on the new man, the free you, the blessed you, the happy you, the victorious you. Another man in scripture, Jacob, was known for being dishonest, cheating people. His name even means "Deceiver". He lived up to it. He tricked his father into giving him the family blessing instead of his firstborn brother, Esau. After living deceitfully for many years, Jacob finally decided to return to his father's home and face up to his wrongs. On the way, one night, he went down to a brook alone. It was there that he had an encounter with God. God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. His old name means "Deceiver," but his new name means "Prince with God".

Now, from this time on, you would think the scripture would refer to him only by his new name, Israel, but the scripture goes back and forth between naming him Jacob and Israel. One moment, he's Jacob. Few verses later, he's Israel. The key to living in victory is to respond as Israel, not as Jacob. There's a Jacob in all of us. There are things that can hold us back. But there's also an Israel in all of us. There's a prince in you. There's a holy, righteous, favored world-changer in you. Let me warn you though: Jacob will try to come out. You can be driving to work, singing praises, enjoying the day. Israel is feeling good. Then someone cuts you off in traffic. Out of nowhere, Jacob shows up. Jacob wants to complain. Israel wants to praise. Jacob wants to hold a grudge. Israel wants to forgive.

I'm asking you to be an Israel, not a Jacob. It's time to walk into your new name, your new identity. I was at a drive-through recently just minding my own business. Life was good. After ten minutes of waiting in line, I finally pulled up to place my order on the microphone, so I rolled down my window. A man's voice came through the speaker and, in an irritated tone, said, "Sir, there are other people waiting. If you don't place your order, you're going to have to get out of line". I just pulled up. I hadn't been there for two seconds, and out of nowhere, Jacob showed up, giving me some great ideas of what to tell this man. At that moment, I had to make the choice: was I going to be an Israel, a pastor with a smile, or was I going to be a Jacob and tell him something else? I did what I'm asking you to do.

I said very politely, "No problem. Let me give you my order". After I ordered and I thanked him, I said, "God bless you. Have a good day". When I pulled up to the window, he had all of his coworkers gathered around, staring. He said, "I thought that was you, pastor Joel". I wanted to say, "This is me, Israel". Every day, you have to make that choice: "Am I Jacob, or am I Israel? Am I going to hold on to this offense, or am I going to let it go? Am I going to hang out with these friends that cause me to compromise, or am I going to stay on the high road and be a person of excellence"?

I'm asking you to be an Israel. Put off the old man. Don't let the flesh dictate your life. Let the spirit rule. Honor God with your decisions. The choices you make don't just affect you. They affect your children, even generations to come. God is calling us higher. Whatever you know is holding you back, this is the time to make a change. This is a moment of grace to do what you couldn't do before. Your decision can save your marriage. It can take you to a new level in your career. It can break mediocrity and lead you into abundance. It can move you toward a healthier, happier life and lengthen your days. If you'll do this, I believe and declare you're going to break bad habits, resist temptation, and become the prince you were created to be in Jesus' name.

An abundant life starts on the inside and works its way out. You should be your biggest encourager because your happy, healthy life can't happen without you. Here are some words to live by. Every day, I choose joy. God has me in the palm of his hand. I never have to worry. As a child of God, I am unoffendable and quick to forgive. I forgive because I am forgiven. As the scripture says:

I am strong in the Lord and the power of his might.

in all circumstances, I will bless the Lord, for this is the day he has made.

God is on the throne. He is ordering my steps. He is providing for my every need.

I can surrender my worries, my burdens, and all my cares into his hands.

I look forward to tomorrow, but embrace the present.

I have grace for today, and God will give me grace for tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

I'll fight for those who cannot fight for themselves because my God fights for me.

my rest comes from God. He is the one who restores my soul.

I am who God says I am, and I will reach my full God-given potential no matter what comes my way. I have everything I need to live an abundant life.

Perhaps you're wondering who is this old man and new man that I keep talking about. The scripture tells us that "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". That's the old man, the angry, embittered person. But the new man is something different altogether. 2 Corinthians says, "If anyone's in Christ, he's a new creation. The old is gone, and the new has come". That new man is simply the new person, the new creation we become when we receive God's gift of salvation. I don't want to close without giving you that opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, "Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and Savior". If you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. I hope you'll get into a good Bible-based church and keep God first place.
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