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From the Garden to the Desert … and on to the Cross - Part 6

By: Arnie Cole & Michael Ross

My Story, Your Story …

There’s a tug-of-war going on in each of our hearts.

As much as we want to be in control, we also yearn to get home—our true home with Jesus; the eternal garden where we will walk with Him “in the cool of the day”[1] and “be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”[2] It will be a place without fear or shame, a place without pain, suffering, hatred … or regret. Just perfect harmony. You one note, me the other, and God the third—woven together in a melody of perfect relationship.

It’s up to us to choose Him.

It’s up to us to give up control—and surrender that ache to Him.

As God’s human creations, we are free to follow a life-path that will lead us to His eternal kingdom (a city that promises to be far greater than Eden) … or we can remain in the thorns. We can choose life by the spirit and work into our hearts the qualities of God: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Or we can choose the acts of the sinful nature and allow ourselves to degenerate with the cravings of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness.[3]

During the dark moments of my life when I find myself entangled with temptation and too often dragged away by sin, I’ve caught myself wondering if I’ll ever get there. I’ve made some dumb choices during my six decades on planet Earth. (I still do.) I’ve allowed that ache in my own soul to push God’s authority and power right out of my life. Thankfully, though, the ache that knocks me off course from time-to-time also drops me to my knees in humble repentance. I’ve made some good choices, too.

I committed my life to Jesus Christ fourteen-years ago, and every day since, I have given that same heart to my beautiful wife Char; I raised four one-of-kind kids, and I dedicated my life to supporting and building up the Church. (Researching and writing this book falls in the good category!)

Yet the spiritual tug-of-war doesn’t let up, and the apostle Paul’s agony often becomes mine ...

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … For I have a desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it but it is sin living in me that does it.[4]

If you’re feeling alone in your win-lose battle with temptation, listen to me clearly: Don’t fall for the enemy’s “isolate and destroy strategy.” He wants you to feel as if you’re the exception—a hopeless spiritual loser. The truth is, you’re not alone. We’re all spiritual losers! Every human soul is a battleground where a war between good and evil is being fought every second of every day: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”[5]

And through Christ, we can be spiritual winners, as well.

Remember Anne Barrett, the mom we wrote about in the previous chapter? Her story so perfectly sums up the state of every man, woman, and child who ever lived. In her words, “We’re all undeserving of God’s amazing gift of grace. We’re all like the prodigal son. Yet when we return to God, He embraces us, wipes away the tears, cleans away the grime—and He never gives up on us. And He gives us a home … an eternal home with Him!”

Get a few things through your head.

We are Anne Barrett.

We are the prodigal son.

We are Adam and Eve.

We are not alone.

God lavished the first humans with everything they needed—every advantage to succeed. He gave them the tools and the answers to withstand temptation and to resist the grip of sin. He’s still doing that today. The Bible proves it, and so does my research.

Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get practical! Whether you’re a man or woman, rich or poor, young or old, we’ve shown you that there are two universal truths in life: (1) we all struggle with temptation and sin, and (2) Jesus Christ can free us from the bondage of our soul-robbing choices. In the following section, let us nudge you toward real change … and true transformation! We’ve laid out a proven path here (and at the end of each chapter of this book) that will help you engage the Bible and hear God’s personal message to you; learn spiritual growth secrets that are helping other believers (based on current research findings); chart a realistic plan that can help you navigate any temptation trap you’ll encounter.

[1] Genesis 3:8

[2] 1 John 3:2

[3] See Galatians 5:16-26.

[4] Romans 7:15, 18-20

[5] Psalm 51:5

From Tempted, Tested, True

© Back to the Bible.

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