Joel Osteen — The Two Yous
I want to talk to you today about "The two you's". There are two people living on the inside of each one of us, the strong, disciplined, confident you, and the weak, insecure, compromising you. The positive, faith-filled, big dreams you, and the negative, discouraged, not-going-to-happen you.
We all have these contradictions, inconsistencies. You're a good person. You love the Lord. Most of the time, you're friendly, easygoing, "Good morning, great to see you today". But if someone pushes the wrong buttons, if they're rude, harsh, the other you can come out. He may have been hidden for 2 months. You thought he was finally gone, but he was still in there.
There's a battle constantly taking place between the two yous. The scripture calls it, "Between the flesh and the spirit," between our old carnal nature, giving into our feelings, compromising, telling somebody off, and the new redeemed nature, and when you give your life to Christ, Paul said in Corinthians, "You became a new creation. Old things are passed away," and we celebrate that.
That's good news. But here's what I've learned. The old man may be dead, but sometimes he gets resurrected. He may have died, but don't kid yourself, he can get back up again. We see this in the scripture with Peter. Peter was a faithful disciple, a close friend of Jesus, strong, committed. His name even means "Rock". Jesus said to him, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church". Nobody God had more confidence in than Peter.
When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter was so loyal, so determined to stand up for him, he pulled his sword out and cut off one of the soldier's ears. He was ready to die defending Christ. That was the strong Peter, the faithful Peter, the rock. That would be great if that was the only Peter, but there was another Peter in there that came out from time to time.
When they arrested Jesus and took him to the high priest, Peter followed along and he was standing outside the house, in the courtyard, warming himself by the fire, and there were guards all around. A young lady said to him, "Aren't you one of Jesus' disciples"? He said, "No, what are you talking about? I don't know him". Another person came up and said, "Are you sure you're not one of his disciples"? He said it again, "I'm telling you, I don't know him". Then someone came out of the house. They said, "I know you're his disciple. I saw you there when we arrested him". This time, Peter got angry. He started cursing, swearing, "I don't know the man".
Just a little earlier, he was defending Jesus. What happened? The other Peter came out. There were two Peters in there, the kind Peter and the curse-you-out Peter, the defend-you Peter, and the deny-you Peter, the, "Great to see you today," Peter, and the, "I can't stand to see you today," Peter.
I would love to tell you that there's only one you in you. You're not like Peter. You didn't get the rude you, the compromising you, the curse-you-out you. But that's not the truth. The other you is in all of us. We are a new creation, but the flesh, even though it's passed away, it can get back up, and romans 8 says: "If you live by the flesh, you will die". It's not talking about physically. It means your dreams will die. Your potential will die. Your relationships won't be what they should.
If you're always saying what you feel, holding grudges, compromising, it feels good to feed the flesh, but you won't like the results. You won't get to where you're supposed to be. It goes on to say, "If, through the spirit, you will mortify the flesh, then you will live". "Mortify" means "You have to keep it dead". When it tries to get back up, when you're tempted to do whatever you feel, you have to say, "No, I am not going to let the flesh rule me".
When you do the right thing when it's uncomfortable, you're keeping the old man down, and the scripture says, "No discipline at the time feels good, but later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness". It doesn't feel good at the time to walk away when somebody insults you. It feels good to insult them back. It doesn't feel good to stay home and study for the test when your friends are out having fun.
The flesh likes to be comfortable, but if you're comfortable all the time, you won't grow, and the reason some people are stuck is not because they're not talented, not because they don't have favor. It's because they keep letting the old man get back up. They're not disciplined to do the right thing when it's hard. You have to be consistent. The flesh is not going to go away. You'll never get so spiritual that you don't have to deal with carnal desires.
Paul said, "I die daily". He wrote over the half of the New Testament, yet he admitted he had to deal with his flesh on a daily basis. Every day, we have to say, "No," to things. "No, I'm not going to make that comment. No, I'm not going to watch that. No, I'm not going to hang out with that friend that causes me to compromise". You have to tell the flesh, "You are not going to rule me. I'm not going to eat everything you tell me to eat".
Now I'm getting real. At the mall, you can smell those fresh-baked cinnamon rolls 3 blocks away. You pull into the parking lot, and the aroma is in the air. You're new man tells you, "Walk on by. You don't need that". Your old man, he may be dead, but he can smell too. He'll get up and say, "You need three of those. You deserve it. You can work out extra hard tomorrow. You can pray and ask God to take away those calories".
You've heard of "The walking dead". Your old man may be dead, but he'll get up and walk around. He'll try to run your life. Now, quit telling yourself, "I can't break this addiction. Joel, I can't keep my eyes on the right things". Your old man is not that strong. The reason he's controlling you is you keep feeding him.
Whatever you feed is going to grow. Every time you give into the temptation, you're feeding it. It's getting stronger. Every time you're impatient, offended, you lose your temper, you're feeding the negative. Do yourself a favor. Quit feeding the old man. Start starving the temptation, starving the offense. Starve the negative, and it "Well, Joel, I tried. I just don't have the discipline". No, quit telling yourself that. Philippians 2 says: "God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what's right".
In the scripture, David and his men had been protecting the house of a man named Nabal. Nabal was a wealthy man that owned a lot of sheep. It was the time of year where they were cutting the wool and having a big feast, and David sent a few men to ask Nabal for some food and supplies, and since David was doing this good deed, being kind, you would think Nabal would be happy to give him something. But Nabal was rude and ungrateful. Commentaries say he was a harsh man, hot-tempered, and hard to get along with, that he spent most of his life drunk.
He said to David's men, "I don't owe you anything. I didn't ask you to protect me. What are you doing on my property"? He sent them away empty-handed, and when David heard how he had insulted them, David was furious. He told his men to get their swords. They were going to go take care of Nabal.
Well, Nabal had a wife named Abigail. She was not only extremely beautiful, she was very wise, and when she heard what her husband did, she loaded up animals with food and supplies and headed out toward David. They met on the road. She bowed down before him and said, "David, my husband is a fool. I'm sorry for the way he treated you, but I've brought you and your men these supplies. Please forgive us for what he did". She calmed David down and kept him from wiping out her whole town.
David thanked her and turned away, went back home. He knew that God had used her to protect him from making a mistake. Ten days later, Nabal had a stroke and suddenly died. David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. Now that the old man died, she was able to meet the new man. Nabal is symbolic of our old nature, hot-tempered, rude, addictions. The name Nabal means "Fool," and as long as the old man is alive, you'll never meet the new man.
I'm speaking figuratively here. I saw three ladies giving high fives. That old man is your husband. You are stuck. I'm talking about the old man that lives in you, the bitterness, the bad attitude, the compromise. Don't let the same issues keep you from seeing the new man, the same unforgiveness, the same hot temper, the same addictions hold you back for the next 20 years. You have the grace to overcome.
The temptation may be strong, but the scripture says, "Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound". That means God's grace, his enabling power is greater than anything that's trying to stop you, and it's interesting that Nabal died 10 days after Abigail did the right thing, and when you dig your heels in and do the right thing when it's hard, there will be times, like with her, you will come in to your 10th day, where that addiction doesn't have the power over you like it did. That bad attitude, that temper, it may not totally go away, but it doesn't control you anymore.
And I wonder how much higher we would go, how much more of God's favor we would see if we would get rid of the old man, if we would start saying, "No," to things that we know are holding us sometimes a little thing can keep you from a big blessing, a little bitterness, a little compromise, just this one friend I hang out with. "Joel, I've always been hot-tempered". No, it's time to get rid of Nabal. Can I tell you, nobody likes him? Nobody wants to be around him. You might as well put the old man back in the grave. We don't want the walking-dead you. We want the new you, the free you, the redeemed you, the blessed you, the confident you, the victorious you.
David had to defeat his personal enemies before God could trust him with Goliath. Goliath, in one sense, wasn't David's enemy. That was God's enemy. Goliath was sent to establish the Israelites, to show the Philistines that God was on the Israelites' side, and when David was out in the shepherd's fields alone, when nobody was watching, he killed the lion and the bear. Those were his personal enemies.
He could have slacked up, thought, "Nobody can see me out here. If I lose a sheep or two, it's no big deal". But David was a person of excellence. He did the right thing when nobody was watching, and because he was faithful to defeat his personal enemies, God was able to promote him and trust him with more, and if you'll do like David and start defeating the things that nobody knows about... may not be a sin, it's just a weight, a small thing that's keeping you from being your best, sour attitude, being jealous of a friend, showing up late to work.
Are there personal enemies you're not dealing with, thinking, "Oh, come on, Joel, everybody deals with something"? No, if you'll start defeating those small things that are holding you back, God will release the big things that belong to you. But sometimes we're waiting for the temptation to go away, thinking that we're not going to have the desire anymore, and there are times that happens, but most of the time, the temptation will still be there. Your old man will want to get back again and again, but God has given you the grace to overcome.
I'm a very goal-oriented person, very focused. It's my personality type. When I go to the grocery store, I'm on a mission. I'm going to get in, get out, be efficient. I don't like waiting around. I used to be impatient. I wouldn't let anybody see it, but if there was a long line or if the waiter didn't come to the table right away, I'd get stressed out.
But living with Victoria all these years, I've learned to slow down, enjoy the journey. I'm much more relaxed, learn to go with the flow. But even now, if something is not happening as fast as I would like, if the car in front of me on the freeway in the fast lane is driving 40 miles an hour, my old man still wants to get back up. I've had him down for years. We buried him, had a nice funeral, but every week, he's trying to get back up.
What am I saying? God doesn't take away every temptation, and remove every negative desire where you're never tempted to be impatient, to be rude, to compromise. That's why Paul said, "I die daily". You're still tempted to get off course, join the crowd. This is where discipline steps in. This is where the grace of God shows up, and yes, I know people that God delivered from an addiction. They don't have the desire anymore. That's the mercy of God.
But if it doesn't happen that way for you, don't use it as an excuse to let the old man get back up. Keep Nabal in the grave. Nabal doesn't look good on you. Nabal is not your style. Keep the old man down so the new man can shine, and here's a key. What you defeat quickly is not your real enemy. What you conquer in a short time is not what you have to be concerned about. Be grateful for that, but your real enemy doesn't go away easily.
I'm not tempted to curse, to do drugs, to be dishonest. By the grace of God, I don't struggle in those areas. But being impatient, that old man has been trying to get up for over 30 years. He's stubborn, he won't go away. For me, he's a real enemy. David defeated Goliath in a few minutes, a victory that changed the course of his life. But Goliath wasn't David's real enemy. He was gone in a moment. His real enemy was Saul. Saul pestered David for years, threw spears at him when David was being nice. He chased David through the desert. David had to live on the run.
God could have delivered David from Saul like he did Goliath. He could've taken care of him in 1 afternoon, no big deal. But there are some enemies God doesn't deliver us from, some temptations he doesn't totally remove, and if God is not taking it away, that means he's giving you the grace to stand strong. You have the power to keep the old man down.
Now, you may be tempted to hold on to bitterness. Somebody did you wrong. They hurt you. It's been years, and that temptation is still there. That's your real enemy. Keep the old man down. Do the right thing when it's hard. Bitterness doesn't look good on you. Maybe you have an ongoing temptation with alcohol or to compromise in a relationship, to be negative or critical.
Every person has a Saul. Don't let the Sauls wear you down to where you think, "This is just who I am". No, announce to that Saul, "You will not keep me from my destiny. If you never go away, I'm not giving in. I'm not letting the old man get back up. I'm going to keep resisting, standing strong, doing the right thing".
But too often, we want a quick fix. "God, deliver me instantly. Take away this hot temper. Lord, make me patient and kind and do it overnight," and you will defeat some giants overnight. You will conquer some Goliaths quickly, but most of the time, God will deliver you little by little. When he sees you doing your part, being patient when you could be stressed, forgiving the person that did you wrong, resisting the temptation, as you keep passing these tests, one step at a time, God will begin to change things.
This is what happened to Jacob in the scripture. He was dishonest. He went around tricking people. He deceived his brother out of his birthright. Being dishonest was his Saul. He struggled with it for years. He wasn't disciplined. He didn't try to overcome. He accepted it for who he was. But in Genesis 32, when he wrestled with the angel, God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. This was to symbolize his new beginning. God was saying, "Jacob, I'm giving you the grace to conquer this dishonesty," and Jacob did his best to change and live with integrity. He started making better decisions.
But just because God touched him didn't mean he suddenly turned into a different person and he didn't have these temptations anymore. In Genesis 48, he came to the end of life. Verse 2 says: "When Jacob was told, 'your son Joseph is here to see you,' Israel gathered up his strength and sat up in bed". He was near death, and look who was there, Israel and Jacob.
You would think the scripture would just refer to him as Israel. Jacob was over and done. But this was put there to show us that he never totally got rid of Jacob. He lived as Israel, his new name, but Jacob didn't go away easily. Jacob kept trying to get back up and come again and again.
It's the same way with us. God made us a new creation. He says, "You are no longer Jacob, the deceiver, the compromiser, now you're Israel. But even though you're Israel, Jacob is going to get up out of the grave and try to work his way back". There will be a conflict between these two men, who you're called to be, and who you used to be.
Somebody cuts you off in traffic, Israel says, "No big deal. It's not going to ruin my day. Bless them, Lord". It would be easy if Jacob were totally gone. The problem is, the old man, Jacob, he's still in there. When Israel says, "I'm going to bless them," Jacob gets up and says, "No, I'm going to curse them". Israel wants to overlook the offense. Jacob wants to tell them off. Israel wants to resist the temptation, set a new standard. Jacob wants to take the easy way out, not be uncomfortable.
When you find yourself wanting to compromise, be impatient, give in to the temptation, just say to yourself, "No, Jacob, you're not getting up. You're the old man. Stay in that grave. Israel is in charge, the redeemed me, the free me, the blessed me".
"Well, Joel, it's hard to take the high road. It's hard to walk way when somebody insults me". Yes, it's difficult, but you won't come up higher if you're not willing to be uncomfortable. These are tests that God allows so we can grow, and the scripture talks about how God uses difficulties to separate the chaff from the wheat. The chaff is the unusable part of the plan. If you don't get rid of that part, then the valuable part will go to waste.
In Bible days, they didn't have machinery, so they would take the wheat to the threshing floor. They would put it on the ground and have the oxen walk over it again and again, grinding up the husk and the straw, and the valuable part of the plant, the grain, would come loose from the chaff.
And when you're in a situation you don't like, you're uncomfortable, instead of being sour, recognize you're on the threshing floor. That's God working on you to try to get rid of the unusable parts, maybe the pride, the jealousy, the impatience. Whatever it is, do your part and be willing to change. Stay pliable, stay moldable. You may not like it, but if you'll keep the right attitude, it's refining you. You're going to come out better.
This is what happened with Peter. Even though he had all these inconsistencies, even though one moment, he was defending Christ, another moment he was denying him, because he was pliable, because he kept growing, his old man didn't keep him from his destiny. On the day of Pentecost, a very important day in the church, out of all the disciples, Peter was chosen to give the inaugural address. He had the honor of leading the church.
And you may have let your old man get up way more than you should have. Be encouraged, it is not going to keep you from your destiny. Now, draw that line in the sand and say, "This is a new day. I'm not letting my flesh rule me anymore. I'm done taking the easy way out. I'm going to be disciplined and keep my old man down". If you'll do this, I believe and declare, bondages that have held you back are being broken right now. You're going to step into a new level of freedom, new level of favor, a new level of growth. Like Peter, you're going to rise higher, overcome obstacles, and become everything you were created to be, in Jesus' name.