Personal Power

Scripture: Philippians 2:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 8:5-7
There is an inner struggle in the heart of every person, conflicting voices that call one way or another. How do you gain personal power in dealing with this battle between good and evil? It all begins in the mind. This broadcast talks about conversion and how God wants to change our minds and not live by our own strength but by His power.
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Today we shall open the Bible on an age-old problem that has baffled and troubled hearts through countless generations. Today with God's help we hope to find some answers to these questions. For ages men have been asking, "What are those mysterious, conflicting voices that speak to the souls of men." Behind a pleasant smile and a cheerful greeting there often lies another world of which others little dream. What is the secret of peace in those inner spheres?

First of all, let's try to understand where victory must actually begin. Do you know that a person's mind is the greatest factor of all in achieving personal power? We speak about giving the "heart" to the Lord Jesus, but actually we are talking about the mind being given instead of the heart. It is the mind which must be brought under the control of the Spirit of God. When we speak of an individual being sanctified of God, we speak of one whose mind has become holy and pure. When we say that an individual has been saved, we speak about one whose mind has been changed from evil to righteousness. A converted individual is one whose mind has been transformed from being bad to being good. In Philippians 2:5 we read, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ, Jesus." So actually, friends, it is the thoughts of the mind which have the greatest degree of influence in our conduct.

Some people have been confused in their theological terms on these things. We want to try to put it in very simple down-to-earth language. In the mind, of course, we find the great conscience control-center which regulates the activities of the entire body. The body has its five senses; the eyes for seeing, the ears for hearing, the nose for smelling, the mouth for tasting, and the hands for feeling. The entire being centers around these emotions or these paths to the mind. Everything in life appeals to one or the other. And all of these emotions are tied in closely to the central nervous system and the brain.

Now, a sinner, or one who is not converted, has a mind which is in subjection to the five senses. The body rules over the conscience or the will in the case of such an individual. A drunkard sees liquor, he smells it, or tastes it and immediately his senses take over, and he drinks and drinks until he is under the table or until he is out of money. In other words, a sinful, carnal nature actually controls the mind instead of the mind controlling the body. When an individual is converted, the process is exactly reversed. A person then sees or smells the things of temptation or sin, but the converted mind, now ruled over by the Holy Spirit, controls the evil desire and resists it. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are told that such a person is "a new creature in Christ Jesus, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." This is the essential difference between the saved and the unsaved individual.

Now let's make it just as clear as possible. In one's own strength there is no power at all to control the mind. In Romans 8:5-7, we read "the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God and neither indeed can be." People who are spiritually down and out are that way because their minds have gone out of control and been brought under the power of Satan. Emotions have stepped in to take over the rule of the individual, instead of a conscience or reason.

Now, the majority of people lack personal power because they lack mental discipline. This all leads us to the conclusion that a mighty battle is taking place in the mind of each individual. The outcome of that struggle will determine the destiny of the person. This leads us up to that baffling question concerning the inner conflicts, the inner voices, that seem to be speaking to us all. One tries to lead us off into paths of disobedience and sin. The other tries to lead us in closer to the ways of Christ. No doubt you asked, "Why is it that the man of the world has only one nature, the one that he was born with, the carnal nature. There is nothing to oppose the way of life that he has chosen so no battle takes place. The spiritual has never been introduced to his experience. But the man that has given his heart to Jesus, has not only the carnal nature by physical birth but the spiritual nature as well. So a titanic struggle usually revolves around such people. You can perhaps recall the experiences you have had since giving your heart to Christ. At one time you surrendered to Him. The inrush of a new life so silenced the voice of the old life that you thought you would never sin again. The refreshing power of God came upon you and you felt that you could conquer the world. It was just like a spiritual honeymoon for you.

Some months later, though, you began to hear strange voices and the old temptations began to rear their ugly heads. You discovered the tendency was still there to have a bad temper. You were shocked and stunned to discover things that you thought would never arise again. Many people get discouraged at this point and give up. They say, "Well, I'll just never make it, I can't possibly succeed in the spiritual life." Listen, friends, we are dealing today with a very practical problem, and it is also very, very real. Many a new-born soul dies to the kingdom of God just a few weeks after making a start. We must understand the secret about this business of being a Christian.

Some time ago I boarded a huge airliner that had about 80 or 90 passengers on board. I was told that it would take 65 gallons of gas to start rolling that mighty plane down the runway. And it would take over 100 gallons of gas to lift it off the ground. Well, on the takeoff, of course, there was a tremendous roar and vibration throughout the plane. It just seemed loath to leave the earth, but finally ,with one terrific pull, we were air borne and the great airliner was skimming through the air with the greatest of ease.

In the same way, friends, it takes about twice the power to get a Christian started on his way. Old habits have to be broken. New ones have to be introduced. Every day that he lived Paul faced this problem of the two natures, as you will find by reading Romans 7:15-19. A clear picture now begins to emerge. The average man knows what is right. He wants to do the right thing, and yet, he fails because of this other power contending for the control of his life. At last, just like Paul, he cries out and says, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Well, how shall we handle these two voices, friends, the spiritual and the carnal? Tomorrow, when you arise, ask yourself this question, "Which power is going to rule over my life today?" Do you know which voice will rule, friends, and which nature will control? I'll tell you which one: the one that is stronger will be the ruler. Furthermore, whichever nature is supreme when Jesus returns, will determine your eternal destiny. At that time your standing will not depend upon some petty mistake or momentary lapse, but upon which nature is stronger in your life.

Here is a text which I'll read from Weymouth's translation in Romans 6. "The thoughts shaped by the lower nature means death. The thoughts shaped by the spiritual nature means life and peace." Now, there the mind enters the picture again. When we speak of giving the heart to Jesus, we mean giving the mind, giving ourselves. Now, back to this question, "Which will be stronger?" Which ever one you feed is going to be the strongest. What feeds one is going to starve the other, or vice versa. Listen, after knowing Christ and walking in the Christian way if the battle is still raging there strong as ever, it might be, friends, that you are guilty of feeding both natures just enough to keep them alive. Nobody is truly happy in the midst of such conflict. Some folk have just enough religion to make them miserable. They have just enough of the world in their experience to rob them of the power of God. May I appeal to you now to cut loose from this lower nature and stop feeding it at all.

Suppose two fierce dogs were fighting, and they seemed to come to an absolute draw. If we take one of those dogs and starve it for two or three weeks and bring it out again and put the two dogs in a circle, what will the outcome be? Of course, the one will gain the victory who had been fed the most. If you've been compromising, giving way to habits and weaknesses, of course, you will not be able to win the battle at all, and there can be no peace in your life. Every moment of living, we are faced with choices. "Which book shall I read, which friend should I cultivate, what music and radio programs should I allow to enter my mind? What principle should lead me in regulating these things?" Friends beware, every surrender to the carnal nature will weaken the moral fiber of the being. Soon, it will seem that there is no purpose in resisting. You will begin to feel unable to fight against the odds of evil. One reason the world is so very rotten with sin today, is because of those who give way with no will and purpose to resist.

I've had sincere young people confess to me that they were joining the trends of compromise and conformity. They started the practice because everybody else was doing it, and it seemed the popular thing to do. But the reinforcements of the mind slowly surrendered until there was no power of resistance left. What can I say today, my friends, to arouse you to the great danger of this situation. Christian experience is lost by degrees. Most people wake up long, long after the power has departed from them. The strength of the will, oft over-ruled by the emotion, loses its power to govern the body wisely.

Did you know that conversion can even affect a change in your subconscious mind and thinking? All of us know, of course, about those deeply buried inclinations and habits of life. Sometimes they seem to rise up like a scum on the surface of the mind. But the power of God strikes down to the very depths to purify the whole thinking process. This is why the Bible describes conversion as a new heart and a new mind.

Now in closing, let's consider the most important thought of all. May you never forget this, friends. Temptation is not sin. There is no guilty secret about being tempted to do wrong. I'm afraid many people fall into sin from the very fear of being tempted. The enemy cannot overcome the individual who cooperates with the Spirit of God. It is no sin at all until we encourage the tempter by thought, word or deed. Temptation may allure us and distress and harass us, but it cannot contaminate us without an act of our own will. We must consent to it before we become guilty. By the way, there is no power in heaven nor earth which can compel us to do wrong. The decision must be made within our own heart citadel, in our own mind. But friends, if we decide to let sin enter the mind, there is no power in all the universe that can save us from the results of that sin. We are never safe while our thoughts are caressing sinful ideas and imaginations. The psychologists have it right when they say that the battle of imagination and the will is always won by the imagination. Temptation can result in greater strength, every time we rise or fall we become either stronger to conquer or be conquered. Friends, the easiest thing in the world is to yield to that feeling that sin is a permanent part of things, that our case is different and peculiar and we can't win the battle. That defeats us in mind even before we start. I think the secret is, where are we looking? Remember, that Jesus has won the battle already long before we came on the scene. We will never have the strength or power to win the battle against Satan ourselves, but we can yield and surrender ourselves to the mighty power of God's strength. Since Jesus has defeated the devil, He is the only one who knows how to do it. He must come into your heart and life before you will ever be able to win that victory.

They were building a giant bridge across New York harbor many years ago, and the engineers were searching for some base upon which to rest the buttresses for the bridge. But an old barge full of bricks and stones had sunk to the bottom of the harbor and they could not seem to budge the barge out of its place. Finally, one of the engineers gathered several barges around and when the tide was at its lowest ebb, he fastened chains to the old wrecked barge below. When the tides came in the chains tightened and the old barge was lifted right up off the bottom of the ocean. It was actually raised by the lift of the Atlantic Ocean.

Is your mind like the old barge full of bricks and rocks, held by age long yearnings and leanings and habits? Are you bound by fears and unholy imaginations? Has every human device failed in bringing you deliverance? Let me tell you, friends, God is able to shatter those chains right now.

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