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Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups

Part 1 - Walking in Victory

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(3/25) We’re beginning a new series today called "Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups" based on Rick Warren’s "Road to Recovery". And we’re going to talk in this series about how to handle and how to overcome the hurts in your life, the habits that are messing up your life and the hang-ups that have cause pain in your life. Hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

The theme behind this series comes from Isaiah, and in chapter 57, God says, "I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far," says the Lord, who heals them." (Isaiah 57:18-19; NLT)

This is a great promise of God. If you have been hurt, God says, "I want to heal you."

If you’re confused, He says, "I want to lead you." If you feel as if things are hopeless and no one understands, He says, "I want to comfort you." If you are anxious, worried, and afraid, God says, "I want to offer my peace to you."

You see, the fact is… life is tough. We live in an imperfect world. We’re hurt by other people, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt other people. The Bible says, "All have sinned." That means none of us are perfect, we’ve all blown it, we’ve all made mistakes. We hurt and we hurt others. So this series is for everybody.

Everyone in this room needs victory, unless you’ve lived a perfect life… But if you haven’t lived a perfect life, if you’ve ever been hurt, if you’ve ever had a habit, or hang-up that you’d like to get rid of, then you need victory. And the good news is this: regardless of the problem you need victory from, whether it’s emotional, financial, relational, spiritual, sexual or whatever, regardless of what you need to conquer in your life, the steps to victory are always the same. And the principles for your victory are found in the Bible… in God’s Word. So over the next eight weeks we are going to look at eight steps to "Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-ups"

Now I imagine most of us have seen the movie The Nutty Professor… either the Jerry Lewis or the Eddie Murphy version. Well the Jerry Lewis version is my favorite and in that story Lewis is Julius Kelp, a nerdy chemistry professor who develops a serum that changes him into a handsome, smooth-talking, woman-chasing, Buddy Love. He's the exact opposite of the gentle and considerate Professor Kelp, but he keeps taking the serum, because it gives him a taste of life that he had never experienced before. He relishes the attention he receives… he becomes addicted to it… and he can't give it up... even though it nearly destroys his life.

Now of course this is a Hollywood movie and that means everything turns out well in the end. But in real life it's not quite so easy is it?

The Nutty Professor is loosely based on a much darker story, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And in that story Dr. Jekyll also creates an alter ego, the evil Mr. Hyde, who wanders the city of London at night committing savage murders. As much as Jekyll despises this character he has created, he cannot resist the powerful attraction to the sinister Mr. Hyde and slowly the dark side takes over his life.

Well, today we are going to read from the book to the Romans, in chapter seven, where Paul pours out his heart in an admission of weakness, a struggle with his flesh, and ultimately victory. But in this chapter, Paul reveals that we have a dual nature… each of us are, to some extent, a Jekyll and Hyde. This darker side of our nature has the potential to destroy our lives if we don't learn to conquer it. So here in Romans chapter seven Paul admits to this struggle and gives us the key to victory.

Lets read together at verse 15. Paul says...

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the 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.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

(Romans 7:15-25; NIV).

This morning, the first thing you must realize is that I’m not God.

Now that was easy wasn’t it? Well, step 1b is to realize that you’re not God either… so this morning we’re faced with a tension, an inner struggle, a tendency to do wrong, and yet we need to admit that we are powerless to change things and therefore life is unmanageable. For example:

Do you ever stay up too late when you know you should go to bed?

Do you ever eat more calories than you want and more than your body needs?

Do you ever feel like you ought to exercise but you don’t?

Do you ever know the right thing to do, but you don’t do it?

Do you ever know something is wrong, but you do it anyway?

Have you ever tried to control somebody or something and found it was uncontrollable?

If your answer is yes to any of those questions, welcome to the human race. We’re all in need of victory. We all need to conquer our Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups.

And so the first step to victory is that you must understand the cause of the problem. Why does this happen in my life? Then recognize the consequences of the problem… and lastly to receive the cure.

And so first of all, I want you to be aware that sin will never stop trying to get the best of you and to be victorious you need to understand the cause.

I. Understanding the Cause

You see there is a very real and malicious force at work in your life. The Bible has a word for it, it calls it our sin nature. And it never stops trying to get the best of us. My sin nature gets me in all kinds of problems. I do things that aren’t good for me and I don’t do things that are good for me. I often respond the wrong way when I’m hurt. I react the wrong way to people. I treat them in wrong ways… it backfires… I try to fix the problem and often end up worse than it was when I started.

You see because Proverbs 14 says, "There is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).

Paul goes so far as to say... "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." (v. 20)

I know this sounds awful close to, "The devil made me do it," but that's not what Paul is saying. We can’t shift the blame for our actions to anyone or anything else, but we do need to be aware that the sinful nature is a very real, very powerful, and a very destructive presence in our lives.

And today as followers of Jesus Christ, having been born again, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit into your life, you have two natures, almost like Jekyll and Hyde. You have a new nature that you received from God when his Spirit came to dwell within you. And you have the fleshly old nature, the sinful nature, whose presence remains with you as long as you are in this body. This nature never gives up. It never stops trying to get the best of you. It works against your desires to be holy and it sabotages all your efforts to do good!

The first step to victory is that you must understand the cause of this problem. And the cause of all our problems is this sin nature… that we want to be God… we want to be in control. So we want to control ourselves, other people, and even our environment. And that’s called playing God. This is mankind’s oldest problem. God put Adam and Eve in Paradise and they tried to control Paradise. God said "You can do anything you want except one thing: Don’t eat from this one tree." And what did they do? They made a beeline for that tree. So Satan is watching and waiting and he slithers over and says, "Eat this fruit… whatever it was… and you’ll be like gods."

So they eat of the only thing in Paradise that God said was off limits. And that’s been the problem from the very start. I want to be God. I want to call the shots. I want to run my own life. And yet I imagine God walking through the Garden that day in Paradise saying, "Hi, I’m God and you’re not." So that’s the first step to freedom. Understanding the cause and realizing you’re not God… you’re not going to get well on your own…. you have got to face it… and you can’t deny it.

II. Recognizing the Consequences

As long as you and I live and breathe there will be this tension and you'll never be satisfied. You'll always be troubled by your tendency to sin. And I remember reading these words in Romans chapter seven for the first time. I was struggling, I was ready to give up on myself, and certain that God had already given up on me, when I read Paul's words: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…" (Romans 7:15).

The apostle is acknowledging this tension in our lives and likewise we need to recognize there are four consequences to playing God:

1. Fear. When I try to control everything I get afraid. Afraid that I may lose control… afraid somebody’s going to find out that I really don’t have it all together, and that I am not perfect. So I don’t want to let anybody get real close to me because they’ll find out I’m scared inside. I’m afraid that somebody’s going to reject me, not love me, or not like me, because if they really knew what I was like... And so we’re filled with fear when we try to play God.

2. Frustration. It’s frustrating trying to be the general manager of the universe. My son Jacob likes to play the game with the mallet at Chuck E. Cheese. You know the one that has these things sticking up and you hit them down. The moment you hit one down another pops up. Jacob loves it, but it’s frustrating because every time you hit one another pops up and you slam that one down… and well you know… that’s life isn’t it? We whack down one urge, desire, or temptation and another one pops up. We whack down one problem and another one comes up. We whack down one relational conflict and another pops up. It’s so frustrating because you can’t get them all knocked down at the same time.

So I walk around pretending I’m God… I’m powerful… I can handle it… it’s frustrating. Because I am not God… and I can’t control everything… it’s frustrating.

Paul recognized this and cried out... "When I want to do good, evil is right there with me…" (Romans 7:21).

3. Fatigue. It’s tiring playing God. Trying to control everything, pretending you’ve got it all together, takes a lot of energy. In Psalm 32, David said: "My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin… and you forgave the guilt of my sin… You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalms 32:4-5, 7). Today, if you’re always worn out, ask yourself, "What am I running from? What problem don’t I want to face that motivates me and drives me to go, go, and go?"

4. Failure. When you try to play God that’s one job description that you’re guaranteed to fail at. Proverbs 28:13 says, "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." You need to be honest and open about your weaknesses, your faults, and your failures.

So first you must understand the cause… and second… the second step to victory is recognizing the consequences of the problem…. four consequences to playing God: Fear, Fatigue, Frustration, and Failure.

Paul finished his dialogue, seemingly in frustration saying, in verse 24, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" We could rephrase that saying, "Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?" Then he answers his own question, saying, "Thanks be to God… through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25). The answer is number three: "Receiving the Cure" through Jesus Christ!

III. Receiving the Cure

Even though sin never relents and your behavior will always be bothersome, the good news is that you don't have to spend the entirety of your Christian life living in frustration. Victory is the birthright for every believer. You can become an overcomer. Paul in chapter six says, "Sin shall not be your master." And in chapter 8 he says, "In all these things we are more than conquerors." You will experience victory in the Christian life, when you allow Jesus to resolve the tension between who you are and who you want to be.

So the steps to Conquering Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups are that first you must understand the cause. The second step is recognizing the consequences of the problem. And third... is receiving the cure. It’s when you let go and let God take control… when you admit your powerlessness… and when you allow Jesus to resolve the tension between who you are and who you want to be.

You see when I realize that I am not God and I can’t control everything... I recognize three important facts of life.

1. I admit that I am powerless to change my past. It hurts, I still remember it, but all the resentment in the world isn’t going to change it. I’m powerless to change my past.

2. I admit that I am powerless to control other people. I try, I like to manipulate them, I use all kinds of little gimmicks, but it doesn’t work. I am responsible for my actions, not theirs. And I can’t control other people.

3. I admit that I am powerless to cope with my harmful habits, behaviors, and actions.

Good intentions are not enough. Will power is not enough. You need something more than will power. You need a source of power beyond yourself. You need God, because He made you to need Him.

James chapter four tells us: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (vs. 6). Grace is the power to change. Grace is the power God gives me to make the changes in my life that He wants me to make. And for you to recover from hurts, habits, and hang-ups in your life, you need God’s grace. So how do you get it? Only one way: He gives it to the humble.

Some of you today feel like you're living a Jekyll and Hyde existence. One part of you wants to be good, holy, and righteous, while the other part of you sins and fails. If you're in the midst of that struggle, I want you to know that you can have victory. "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

Let me ask you, what needs changing in your life? What hurt, habit, or hang-up have you been trying to ignore? For many this step is the hardest step.

Its saying, "I’m not God and I don’t have it all together as much as I’d like everybody to think that I do. I don’t have it all together." If you tell that to somebody, they’re not going to be surprised, because they know it, God knows it, you know it, and you just need to admit it. It means being honest and facing a problem that you’ve wanted to ignore for a long time.

In the meantime, there's something you can do today to ensure your Victory tomorrow.

Your reach will always exceed your grasp, but don't stop reaching as far as you can.

When you fall down, get up and try again. Remember Paul's words: The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Cling to him and his mercy. Rely upon his grace. Let the fact that he offers you full and complete forgiveness be the driving force of your life… let it motivate you to try and try again, until you’re walking in victory and leave the frustration of Romans 7 behind.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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