Steven Furtick - How Do I Do This?
Ephesians 4:22. "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness". What caught my attention just then reading it was "You were taught to put off your old self. You were taught to be made new. You were taught to put on the new self. You were taught".
Paul is assuming the audience he's speaking to in the book of Ephesians has received instruction on all of those things. To put off the old self, to be made new in the attitude of your mind, and to put on the new self. I think there is a difference between being told to do something and taught to do it. If you tell me what to do but don't teach me how, I'll be trapped. I will know I'm not doing it right, but I won't know how to do it any differently.
I was trying to learn a few moves the other day with a guy who was doing jujitsu. I noticed that when he would tell me to do something, I would have a really hard time. "Switch this elbow, and put this arm now where the other…" I mean, it was like… I am not a very athletic guy. Maybe I shouldn't say that. Maybe that's me not doing the new me, but what I mean is I don't naturally just pick up a lot of physical movements and stuff. I don't know. The angles and the geometry of jujitsu or grappling, or whatever, didn't come naturally to me, but when he would get down and show me, I could do it a lot better. I think a lot of times, as I have preached through the years, it has been easier for me to tell people what to do than to teach them how to do it. It's easier for me to tell you to…I don't know; I want to think of one that's pretty applicable…spend time with God, to pray. But the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Teach us to pray".
There's a big difference between telling you to pray and teaching you to pray. One is "You should". Sometimes when somebody is just giving us a list of things we should do, it not only gets overwhelming, but we become frustrated when we give it our best effort. Like, with prayer, for instance… I don't think there's anybody who calls themselves a believer in Christ who doesn't feel like, "Oh man…" Well, I think there probably are some people. There aren't many of us who are followers of Christ who don't feel like, "I should pray more". So, pray more. "How do I do it"? "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name". "Okay, but after I pray that prayer, what do I pray"?
You know, teaching someone something as simple as this can be helpful. When you pray, a lot of times it's a good idea for you to be more specific about where you are in your walk with God than being generic about where you should be. Instead of praying, "God, I thank thee that thou art most holy, and I desire to do thy will today…" I think that's awesome, and I don't think that's bad, and I think we should magnify God and begin with thanksgiving and praise and adoration.
I'm not making fun of that, but I'm saying sometimes you have to start from the place where you are and go, "God, I need your help right now. I can't do this without you, but you are the Great I Am. You are the mighty God. You can do anything, God. I know you live in me. I know you love me. I know you want to help me. You said in your Word that I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Right now, I just ask you to flood my body with the energy I need for this task, and help me to have the words I need to say in this situation, because I feel like my own human wisdom has fallen short. I'm running out of…"
See what I'm saying? By starting with, "God, I need your help," it enabled me to tap into my need for God's strength, and then I praised him. That's a very simple example of it, but we could go on and on. Read your Bible more. How? How do I read my Bible? So, if you weren't taught to do something, but you were told to do it, you might find yourself, a lot of times, feeling ashamed because you feel stupid because you don't know how. When it comes to this thought of putting off the old self, a lot of people don't know how to do that. What we end up doing is just hating ourselves. "Oh man, I'm so selfish. I'm such an idiot. I'm so out of control. What's wrong with me? I'm a screwup, and I'm a failure," you know, all of these things I mentioned in the first week of my sermon that become identity things, like, "I'm not disciplined".
No, I'm just not being disciplined, but I am. I have the potential for discipline because of Christ in me. So, even the idea of putting off the old self and Paul saying, "You were taught to put off the old self…" A lot of people weren't. His audience… He had taught them to do it, but a lot of times, we haven't been taught, and a lot of times, as I mentioned several weeks ago on the daily devo, we were taught wrongly. Therefore, when God is bringing something into our lives to model something for us… You know, you meet somebody, and you see, "Oh, wow! I see an example of what it means to be kind. I see an example of what it means to be selfless. I see an example of what it means to think bigger. I see an example of what it means to walk in faith".
That example you see that God will put in your path… A lot of times, it's to show you a preview of what he wants to do in your future, that he wants to give you some of those same experiences. He wants to use you in some of those same ways. When we don't put off the old self, and when we don't actively cause ourselves to think, "Am I nurturing now the things that are in me that I will need for what God is calling me to be later"? When we're short-term focused… Remember my weird Scripture (I haven't gotten to preach it yet) from Deuteronomy 20:19? "When you lay siege to a city for a long time, they won't fight you, and you have to lay siege on the city to try to keep them in the city, don't go putting the ax to trees that can bear fruit. You can eat from them. God wants to feed you from those trees. Don't chop them down".
I think of that as being a metaphor for the things I cut down in my life. "Oh man! Right now I need this tree to be a battering ram. I need this relief, so let me run to this. I need this need met in my life, so let me get it this quick way". All of the quick-hit things we do to meet needs that keep us and limit us from experiencing something richer in our future. So, when I say, "Don't fight your future," I'm getting to the fact that a lot of us weren't taught how to deal with the things that come in our lives that God wants to use to develop us into the person he made us to be.
So, when correction comes in our lives, we reject it because we're insecure. We chop down the tree that has our future food on it. When relationships come in our lives that are new, we're too insecure, so we don't really step into them or we don't really develop them or pursue them, because we don't feel like we're worthy of that. We don't believe God is giving it to us as a gift, and we're not ready to receive it. So we chop down the tree of who we could be in the future, and instead of experiencing what God wants to give to us, we go for the short term.