(continued from Part Two)
Master Yourself First
Remember the runaway bestseller The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck? The author could have started the book in an infinite number of ways, but Peck chose this as his opening sentence: Life is difficult. I think he started the book that way because that theme, the difficulty of life, is universal. Everyone could relate to those words.
As Christians, we also know that life is difficult. We are going to fact all kinds of problems. The good news is that no matter how difficult our present circumstances might be, God has got our back. He never presents us with something that we just cannot overcome. Bishop Jim Lowe, in his excellent book Achieving Your Divine Potential, makes the following cogent observation:
This is God’s promise. Every problem or issue you encounter in life has a solution. It is merely a matter of time before you discover it. Don’t give up hope; keep on pursuing your goal relentlessly. For all you know, the next thought you have may be the one that reveals to you how to subdue that one issue or problem that has been confronting you.
The word dominion basically means to “rule.” It implies the act of taking one’s authority over something for the purpose of establish order, discipline, and positive control. We have been given the divine directive to subdue, but that is only half the equation. The other half, dominion, means to take control of the situation by exercising your God-given, God-mandated authority.
Whenever you decide to exercise your dominion authority, however, be prepared to meet with resistance. This inevitable counter-force to your authority is, like most other obstacles that arise in the spiritual journey, comes from one of three sources – the enemy; the world; or yourself.
Of these three, most people think Satan is the hardest to deal with, but I don’t think so. True, the enemy is still a formidable foe, but he has already been defeated by Christ and his ultimate end has already been scripted in God’s overall plan. Granted, the enemy is still shrewd, cunning, and clever, but he has for the most part been defanged. His bark is still there but his bite is gone. Yes, he can still gum you half to death, but he can no longer chew you up unless you allow him to by abdicating your divine power. The world is also a considerable source of trouble but if we have established a solid biblical worldview and are grounded in its principles, we can consistently deal with the world.
Of the trio of troublemakers, I am of the opinion that we are the most difficult to get under control. I firmly believe that self-mastery is essential if we are to become the optimal version of ourselves. Now please understand that we can’t master ourselves under our own power – we must and do have the power of the Holy Spirit. But we can do quite a bit and we should work as hard as possible to discipline ourselves.
Often we are our own worst enemies. Paul spells this out clearly when he talks about doing the things he doesn’t want to do and not doing the things he wants to do.
One of the most significant lessons we can learn on the spiritual journey is the fact that we cannot effectively take charge of any situation, person, place, or thing until we have effectively assumed charge of ourselves. The words of Gandhi sum this inescapable principle up quite well:
I have only three enemies. My favorite enemy, the one most easily influenced for the better, is the British Empire. My second enemy, the Indian people, is far more difficult. But my most formidable opponent is a man named Mohandas K. Gandhi. With him, I seem to have very little influence.
I don’t know about you, but I can relate very deeply with Gandhi’s words. All too often we are our own worst enemy, sabotaging every noble thing we set out to do. I firmly believe, however, that the key to self-mastery, like all other directives we have been given, lies in the realization and application of our identity in Christ. As we have seen, we are far more powerful spiritual beings than we have realized and we need to apply this understanding to dealing with our own chronic tendencies to sabotage ourselves. Bishop Lowe offers the following sage advice:
God has given you authority and power to take dominion over all things on earth. Your first responsibility, however, is to subdue and take dominion over the only enemy that can defeat you – YOU!
You cannot triumph over the external world until you subdue and take dominion over you! You will have to wage war against every argument within you that challenges what God has said about you.
You have been taught by the world to see yourself as inferior to what God’s original plan was for you. Your years of conditioning and indoctrination will cause you to doubt what the Almighty said about you. You will find yourself struggling against what God has said. Doubt and unbelief will be unrelenting in their challenge to influence you to believe what God says cannot be true.
It will take some time to undo the conditioning of years of misinformation, but God’s Word is sure and powerful. If you continue hearing the Word of God over and over again, your thinking will become aligned with it and your mind will be renewed. Then, because of our persistent and diligent efforts, your life will be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
In conclusion, let’s keep one other important principle before us at all times. Just as David faced a seemingly unbeatable foe in the Philistine giant Goliath, we also face our own giants – giants of fear, lack, poverty, discouragement, depression, illness, abuse, addiction – the list goes on and on. But just like David, we must come to understand and accept that our victory will not come from our own power, but instead, will flow down like a mighty blessing from the spiritual realm. No matter the nature of our problem, the solution is always a spiritual one. That is why the prophet Zechariah reminded us of the Lord’s words:
Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
© L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved
- Compassion – a “spiritual technology”… (wonderingpilgrim.wordpress.com)
- Spiritual Maturity: Sensitivity to God’s Ways and Wisdom (Part Two) (lifebrook.wordpress.com)
- Essentials for the Spiritual Journey: Self-Mastery (Part Two) (lifebrook.wordpress.com)
- Essentials for the Spiritual Life: Self-Mastery (Part Three) (ldturner.wordpress.com)
- Essentials for the Spiritual Journey: Self-Mastery (Part One) (lifebrook.wordpress.com)
- Positive Words for Personal Reflection (christianoptimist.wordpress.com)