Reflecting on What Jesus Has Done

Ephesians 4:22-24: To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (ESV).

It can sometimes be difficult to figure out just how we are to put off the old self. We develop character and habits that stay with us as we go throughout our lives. Our experiences have a way of shaping the way we think, feel, and react to certain situations. These ideas that we form along the way can be very difficult to refute, much less change. It is, though, something that we must do in order to live a new life in Jesus. How do we accomplish this daunting task? The truth is, we can't! The only way we can change is to allow God to change us from the inside out by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. When we turn away from our former way of life and ask the Lord Jesus to come live on the inside of us, we are then sealed with God's Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:30 not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This suggests that are actions we can take that will cause suffering to the Holy Spirit. This explains how, once we are in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, we find ourselves wrestling so much with what is good and what is bad. Before, we never really gave it much thought. We just did whatever brought us pleasure.

What is the solution? I am not saying that what I am about to share is the only way to solve the problem, however, I am sharing what has been very helpful for me. The way I allow Jesus to work in my life in terms of putting off the old self is through reflection. I try to make it a habit to reflect on what Jesus went through during his final days on Earth, mainly his suffering. You may be thinking, "How can reflecting on Jesus' suffering help me?". That is, I think, a very valid question. The way in which it helps is that it softens my heart and keeps my attitude in check. When I want to feel sorry for myself and my circumstances, or when I am struggling with a certain sin that is trying to keep its grip on me, remembering how Jesus suffered for me helps me to realize the power he has given us to overcome. Jesus thought it necessary that he suffer as he did in order that we might live a victorious life in him. This technique, if you will, also gives me patience and foresight when encountering difficult people. I remind myself that Jesus suffered for them also and it changes my posture toward them. Jesus really did pay it all for us and we can overcome our circumstances when we realize and reflect on what he [Jesus] went through to do it. By being in a mode of constant reflection, when the trials of life come our way, we can let what Jesus did wash over us and renew our thinking and our behavior. By encountering Jesus' life through the Scriptures, we allow the Holy Spirit to thread those powerful words into the intertwining of our very being.

Jesus' last days can be discovered through the four, Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is also much to glean about Jesus' suffering through the prophetic words of Isaiah. I suggest that you do not simply breeze through the passages, but that you read them carefully, chewing on the writing and absorbing the facts. Reflecting on Jesus' suffering is particularly fruitful for this time of year approaching Resurrection Sunday. It will allow us to understand the full implications of Jesus' victory over sin, death, and the grave and what that means for us. It is my prayer that God will bless you and remove the scales as you read and reflect on Jesus' suffering over the next several days/weeks, hopefully--continually.

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