What about the Smoking habit?
Thank you so much for being so faithful in writing me back. You are so right in what you said about me. I am always looking at the sin problem, and I can't seem to get past it. I hate guilt and condemnation so much that I let myself get caught up in it. At the time I accepted Jesus into my life, and the Spirit came to dwell in me, many negative things were immediately gone - they simply vanished out of my life. I was quite a heathen and there was a whole lot of transforming to take place - and it did, with no self-effort. It just left.
But there was and is one thing that keeps me in bondage and really upsets me - it's my smoking. I don't really think it is so much the smoking that upsets me, but the fact that I have no power within me to quit, no matter how hard I try. It seems so natural for me in the comfort of my home to smoke when I sit down to read or whatever, that the thought of what it is doing to my body doesn't hit me hard enough to cause me to want to quit.
There are so many other things in my life that I seem to be able to rise above. But let me try to discipline myself and try to quit smoking, and I am a complete failure! Now, I know what you are thinking, Norman. There I go again, self-effort. But Romans 14:23 says that anyone who believes that something he is doing is wrong should not do it. He sins if he does. He thinks it is wrong, and so for him it is wrong. And I feel smoking is wrong for me because it is not taking care of my body.
As I have said, when I have had convictions in my life about some particular thing, and when I recognize it as being harmful or a hindrance to me, I can generally put it aside. But boy, when it comes to smoking, forget it. My smoking habit really makes me mad, because its such an unnecessary thing - but yet I can't let go of it. I have prayed, begged and anything you can think of when you are desperate, but to and behold, it hangs on to me. I feel especially defeated by it, because I enjoy it, and it makes me mad that I enjoy it.
So, this is where I am at right at this moment with this problem. I have said, "Lord, it is your problem. I belong to you. By your stripes I am healed of it and I will not be moved by what I see. I accept my healing and thank you for taking this with you when you died on the cross. I have confessed it to you and have stood in my helplessness before you, and I now leave it at the cross. I have taken enough guilt about It from myself and others, and I now hand it over to you."
Now, I am sure you will have some comments, but Norman, this is where I am today with the problem. By His word, I have the Victory; by His word, I have no fear In me; by His word, sickness can't dwell in me; and by His word, I've been set free! Now, if I can just let that register in my brain, how wonderful it would be. I am no good to God when I feel defeated, and I know this. So I have got to keep my eyes off myself and let Jesus do in me what he is wanting to. Glory to God!
Love, in Jesus, Nancy
My dear Nancy:
My dear, your problem is really very simple. The smoking "bondage" is to "force" you to see that you are still holding on to a false self-image in which you think you are a Nancyself who shouldn't smoke; and so you struggle against selfcondemnation in your smoking, and pray and "believe", and nothing happens!
You see this is the final form of the self-affirming self we got tricked into believing in at the Fall by the Enemy Deceiver. We there partook of the "tree" of knowledge of good and evil", and not just what we usually call evil. So really the worst evil (to which we were blinded) is that we can and should be "good" selves -just a final form of self-loving and self-affirming self. This is the final struggling "self" of Romans 7. In our spirit centers we are the redeemed who "delight in the law of God in the inward man," but we still don't recognize that our human self was never an in dependent, self-relying self, but only a slave and vessel and branch of Satan, that "spirit of error". But he "kidded" (deceived) us into thinking we were independent selves who could be good selves; though in that bondage to him our "good" self was just another Satanic form of self-loving self (which can take all kinds of forms of good works).
Because of this Romans 7 deceit, we are still blind to the fact that the moment we were delivered from Satan indwelling us and expressing his self-loving self by us, at the time of our faith union with Christ in his death (Paul's "I am crucified with Christ" of Galatians 2:20), we were immediately in that same faith-union "married" to our Other Husband (Romans 7:1-6). Instead of the Romans 7 lie of apparent independent self, we have become slaves, branches, vessels of and in Him.
The law was given to expose this lie of self-relying self and expose us to ourselves as slaves and expressers of Satan (John 8:44). We first saw that in our committed sins, and found our deliverance from guilt and wrath in His shed blood. But then, as redeemed ones, we have to move on to recognize the final lie of an apparent independent, self-relying self which holds on to its supposed goodness. This is the final form of Satan deceiving us, because the lie of independent self really means we are still in self-bondage to the god of self-loving self (that is Paul's "I am carnal, sold under sin" of Romans 7:14). There the law still says to us, "you ought"; and of course that independent self can't stop doing its self-loving things, as with your smoking. So the law has its final Romans 7 use in exposing to us this lie of being independent selves who "ought" to be good and do good, and resist any forms of self-indulgences or self-reactions, including self-esteem.
And so, at last, we are brought to the final discovery of Romans 7, that we are "dead to the law" in the dead body of Christ (7:4). Finally we see that there is no such thing as an independent self on which the law can lay its demands; for that lie of independent self was really my self enslaved to Satan, (Mr. Self-loving Self), and just fulfilling his "lusts". But now my same self has changed husbands and "bosses'', and instead of believing this lie of independence, I see that I am the vessel, branch, and wife of Christ, the Spirit of truth. and when I know that, and cease to respond to life by fussing about my own self-improvements and self-bondages, not only do we cease to listen to the laws of "you ought, you ought not" to which we are "dead", but we settle by this same faith into the fixed consciousness of we being Christ in our redeemed human forms (the second phrase of Galatians 2:20 - "I live, no not I„but Christ lives in me").
Knowing this we recognize the former temptations to try to improve ourselves or to take guilt and condemnation for our failures. And instead of resisting such temptations, we now accept them as mere temptations, and replace them by affirming and knowing Christ in us as us. We recognize deliverances can only be HE expressing His delivering Self by us in any way he pleases.
Thus, love, with your smoking. You recognize and accept (without resisting) your desire and enjoyment of smoking. You don't try to change yourself or stop smoking. You simply say, "Christ, you in me, will do the stopping in your own way and time. I take that for granted by faith.'' If then, the habit grabs you again and you smoke, you don't take condemnation (Romans 8:1), but again just reaffirm that He is the real you, and that He will easily and naturally cut off the smoking in HIS own way and time. Then go ahead with your daily living - without condemnation, but with faith. It looks daring, and looks like license, but turns out to be the only permanent liberty - HIS freeing HIS temple in the way HE pleases and does it.
So, love, you see your problem is not the smoking, but the false Romans 7 concept that you should not be a smoker and you should be rid of it. So it is God's good way of the final exposure of the lie of the self-affirming self of Romans 7 - the final form of sin which still gives Satan his ways of a temporary grab on us. I've loved talking this over with you, my dear, and let's keep talking. So I shall await the next line from you.
Ever loving you, Norman