Joyce Meyer - The Power of Restraint - Part 2
I wanna talk to you tonight about the power of restraint, which is actually self-control. But I thought I'd put a nice new name on it just to make it a little more inviting. Now, I'll tell you a story. When I first started gettin' serious with God, I still smoked cigarettes. I smoked about I don't know, 20 years, 25 years, something like that. And back then, you know, the three big sins for Christians was: drinkin', smokin' and cussin'. That was it. Well, the Bible doesn't say anything about smoking, although I don't, it's not good for you. It's not a good thing to do. But it says all kinds of stuff about gluttony. But it says nothing about smoking. I'll just slide on past that. And it does say not to use crude language. And it says not to get drunk with wine. But that was the big things: drinkin', cussin', smokin'.
So, I really felt like I needed to quit smoking. And I had said, everybody say, "She said". I had said for years, "I could never quit smoking". Well, the more you say something, the more you get yourself convinced that you can't do it. The more you say, "I can't," the more you can't. And the more you say, "I can," the more you can. So, I had always been a little bit of a fluffy teenager. That means I was a little bit overweight, a little pudgy. And so, I had always said, "I know if I quit smoking, I would gain weight. I just know if I quit smoking, I would gain weight. I could never quit smoking". Well, so every time I tried to quit smoking, I couldn't quit. I'd last for maybe a few hours. And then as soon as something put pressure on me, I'd run for the cigarettes.
And of course, Dave, he just said, "Well, God, I'm just gonna smoke until you take the desire away". And the next day he got up and never smoked again. And I'm like, I said to God one time, "Why are you so strict with me? And I know all these other people that are Christians too, and they seem to get to do so many things you won't let me do". But he said, "Look, you've asked me for a lot, do you want it or not"? So, see, I can't be up here, and be on TV all over the world in a hundred languages, and all that sounds so fine to say, "I'm this, I'm that," and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But I gotta stay on the narrow path, and off of the broad path that leads to destruction. So, that means to the very best of my ability for where I'm at in my spiritual growth now, I need to submit myself to God, so the devil cannot run my life. Amen?
So, I really wanted to quit smoking, but I was really having trouble. Well, we were going to what was called a charismatic church then, they're the gifts of the spirit, and we were all excited. And the services back then lasted three, four hours. And so, I would go out in the middle of the service, lay down in the car... Smoke a cigarette. I don't know what I thought people thought, but they must've thought the car was on fire, because, I mean, I did that. Well, nobody taught me what I'm teaching you. I had to get all this from God. So, just be happy that you're getting just dumped on you, what I had to suffer to get. Amen? So, nobody taught me this thing about the power of confession. But God did.
And so, I started driving down the highway at night on my way home from work, smoking a cigarette saying, "I don't smoke. Cigarettes stink. They make me stink. It's a terrible witness, and I don't smoke cigarettes. I hate smoking cigarettes". Do you know within two weeks I had quit. Now, I'm not trying to give you some kind of a little magic charm here. But I am telling you this, if you keep believing: "I'm addicted to this," "I'm addicted to that," "I've got a bad temper, I can't keep myself from gettin' mad. I'm this, I'm this, I'm that, I'm that". You're goin' about it backwards. What you need to do is instead of focusing on the wrong things you're doing, focus on the right thing you should be doing. Let me say it again. Instead of meditating on: "I'm so impatient". "I've got a bad temper". All these, this, this, that, that and something else, instead of meditating on that, you meditate on the Word of God.
What does the Bible say? In Joshua 1:8, "Meditate on the Word of God day and night, that you may observe and do". As soon as your mind is renewed, and you believe that you are who God says you are, and that you can do what God says you can do, then it's all over but the shoutin'. Because the next thing that happens is you'll do it. You believe that you receive it, and you will get it. What does the Bible say? "Be it unto you, even as you believe". Ok, do you agree with me, or do you think I'm crazy? So, stop saying all these bad things about yourself. Talk about who you are in the spirit. The Bible says in Galatians 5, that "The spirit wars against the flesh, and the flesh wars against the spirit. And they are continually antagonistic and opposed to one another".
So, you and I can want to do something, and not want to do it at the same time. I work out at home all the time, but it's a lot easier there because I have a trainer, he comes to my house, he sets all the machines, he brings me my weights, he tells me what to do, he puts the weights up. When I go work out down here, I have to do all that myself. And so, sometimes when I'm away from home, I don't workout as often as I do at home. And not yesterday, but day before yesterday, I really knew that I needed to walk, take a walk about two miles, and I needed to work out. Well, I kept going back and forth. I wanted to workout. I didn't wanna workout. I wanted to walk. I didn't wanna walk. You ever feel like that? Paul, "O wretched man that I am"! What is my problem? The thing I wanna do, I can't do. The thing I don't wanna do, I do it.
What's my problem? Well, the problem is, is your spirit and your flesh are arguing with each other. But if you've even got a little tiny bit of spiritual information, you don't have to have counseling to know which one is the right thing to do. Amen? You don't need a prophecy, a special word from God. You don't need to go see your counselor. I knew the right thing to do was take the walk, go to the gym. Any time you do the right thing, then you feel so good... After it's done. And a little bit more of your flesh has lost some strength. And so, every time you do that, a little bit more of your flesh loses strength, and a little bit more of your flesh loses strength. And then pretty soon that thing has no control over you. Amen? You get this? All right.
Now, the thing that stirred this message up in me was actually something about Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 and 16 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to understand and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities". So, thank God, Jesus understands us, because he has been tempted in every way, just like we have yet he never sinned. So, he went through everything that we go through, but yet he never gave in to the flesh. He always did his father's will. He's our high priest and it's wonderful under the new covenant. Under the old covenant, the high priest could only go into the holy of holies once a year, and he had to go in with blood, and he had to get his sins and the people's sins, not forgiven, but covered. So, they never lost the sense of feeling guilty because their sin was always there, it was just hidden.
But this morning I read Hebrews 8:9 and 10 again, just to refresh myself. And it's so beautiful because God says this new covenant that I make with you, I will forgive your sins, and I will forget them, and I will remember them no more. He doesn't cover them, he annihilates them. That's why Romans says, "There is no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". Actually, if you can grab a hold of this, Jesus didn't just take our sin on the cross, the Bible says he became sin. Oh, how awful that must have been for him. For that wonderful holy thing to become sin. I can't even imagine. I can't even imagine. And so, when he died, he killed sin. And the Bible says it no longer has any power over us. Unless we give it power, ok. Stick with me.
Now, God would never expect us to do something if he didn't give us the power to do it. How many of you agree with that? That would be silly. It would be silly to say, "Joyce walk in love with your enemies, but I'm not gonna give you the ability to do it". So, everything the Bible tells us to do or not to do, we can do. But the world has given us so many, everything now is a disease. It's not sin anymore, it's a disease. And that's just a cover up. It kind of gives us an excuse to go ahead and behave that way, because now we have a disease. It's no longer sin that we need to repent for. Romans 6:9, "For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again: death no longer has any mastery over him".
Well, when he died, we died. So, death no longer has any control over us. You do not in any way, shape, or form, have to be afraid of death, because you are not ever gonna die. You are gonna cease to exist on this planet, but you are an eternal being, and you will never die. You will just slip out of this realm into one that is better. "To live is Christ to die is gain". Amen? Ok, now listen. "For the death he died, he died to sin once and for all: but the life he lives, he lives to God". Now, verse 11, is gonna back up what I said to you about believing you're free, and then you'll get it. "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin".
Now, the word "Count" means: to think or believe. "In the same way, believe that you're dead to sin but alive to God in Christ. Therefore", now, therefore is there because it refers to what we just read, "Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body and make you obey its evil desires". So, if I'm understanding this right, and I'm not a theologian or a Greek scholar, but I'm not stupid either. And it looks to me like that is saying, I've looked up the word "Count" and it means to consider yourself, to think, to believe. So, if it says count yourself dead to sin, then I need to stop behaving like sin is this huge problem for me, and I can't control myself, because I'm dead to sin.
Now, sin is not dead, it's still gonna try to aggravate the living daylights out of us. But we're dead to it. There is not a person in here, if you're born again, that wants to sin. You do not want to, and you hate it when you do it. And that's because you've got God living on the inside of you. Amen? So, count yourself dead to sin. And even if you do sin, when you're right in the middle of it say, "I'm dead to that". Repent, admit you did it. Ask God to forgive you. If you need to apologize to somebody, apologize. Do all the things you need to do. But still say, "I am dead to that, and I am not gonna continue doing that. Jesus has set me free".
Oh, gosh, can I just have a few more minutes? The thing that brought this message about was, I started thinking about how hard it must have been for Jesus to control himself. Just think about when he was in the wilderness those 40 days, and the devil was taunting him. He was fasting, and when he was very hungry, the devil said to him, after him fasting for 40 days, "If you are the Son of God", the devil is always attacking our identity, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread". Well, if it would've been me, I would've probably whipped up a little snack. Maybe not a big one, but a little snack. Right away, "Jesus said, 'it is written'", we do not still understand how powerful this is, "It is written: 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'".
And then, this went on three times. I'm not gonna read 'em all, but I love this one. Jesus took him up... I mean, "The devil took him up on a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms in the world and all their splendor. And he said, 'all this I will give you, if you will bow down'", the Amplified Bible says, "'[just once]'". The just once lie. It's just a little compromise, just a little bit, and everybody else does it. Well, let me ask you a question. If I whipped up a big batch of chocolate chip cookies up here, and I put just the tiniest amount of dog poop in it and I said to you, "Have a cookie, you won't hardly taste it at all because it's just a little bit". There's not, you'd all be smart enough not to eat the cookie.
So, why are we so dumb? I mean, just a little bit. "They only take the Lord's name in vain four times in that show". Ok, I won't get started there, you won't like that. Help us, Jesus. One more thing and I'm gonna quit. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, my, my, my. "Jesus went to the Mount of Olives". I guess you wanna know where I'm at. Luke 22:39, "Jesus went as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. And he said to them, 'pray that you will not fall into temptation'". "'father, if you're willing, take this cup from me: yet not my will be done but yours'. An angel came and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood".
Now, I've studied that, and that actually can happen. But it only happens when a person is under the most severe stress that you could possibly imagine. So, that's how much he was resisting the temptation not to go to the cross. Let's understand tonight, that Jesus went to the cross and died for us, but he did not want to. I think we think he wanted to. He did not want to, but more than he did not want to go to the cross, he wanted to obey his father. So, here's what it comes down to. You may want to do the wrong thing, but do you want to obey God, more than you want to do the wrong thing?
"Well, I can't help it, I just got tempted and it's just a weakness for me". Well, I'll come back again next year or somethin'. Ok, then if you, well, you know, when the soldiers came in to get him, Peter quickly whips out his sword and cuts off one of the guy's ears. He must've been pretty good with the sword to get an ear and not get anything else. And Jesus said, "No, no, no, no, no". I don't know if he fixed the guys ear or what, but here's what he said. He said, "Don't you know that if I wanted to, that I could call for six legions of angels, and my father would send them right away"? That's 72.000 angels.
So, he was saying I don't have to do this. God won't get mad at me if I don't do it. But he's asked me to do it. This just blew me away when I saw this. And in Matthew, it says he went twice and asked God to take the cup away. In this book, it says three different times he went and said, "Father, if you can take this cup from me, nevertheless, your will be done, not mine". So, I guess what I'm asking tonight, well, not I guess, I know what I'm asking. Jesus did a very dangerous thing, he died on the cross. But that's not what I'm talking about. He went to hell, took the keys of hell and death away from Satan. That's not what I'm talking about. He rose from the dead, took his blood to the heavenly holy of holies, put it on the mercy seat. He came back. He revealed himself to his disciples, and some of the other believers for 40 days. There's nothing that says he revealed himself to any unbeliever. Then he left!
Well, that was the most dangerous thing that he could do. You know why? He left it, the job, with us. He said, ok, I'm gonna send the Holy Spirit, your helper, your strengthener, your intercessor. And you are now my personal representatives making an appeal to the world for me. He left it to us, to finish what he started. How dangerous! He just left! And he said, "I'm coming back". But he didn't say when. So, what we have to do, we have a job. And I hope you were not one of the 188.000 who looked at the post that said, "Sit back and do nothing". Because that is absolutely 100 percent not what God wants anybody doing. We all have gifts, we all have talents, we all have abilities, and we need to use them. C'mon, give God a praise.