I Give Up! Why You Can’t Live the Christian Life/Program 2
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne A. Barber; ©2012|
|Dr. Ankerberg and Dr. Barber discuss the factors that make the Christian life seem impossible, along with what the Bible really teaches about living for God each day. You’ll discover that God has a plan that is perfect for your life because it is Christ living in you. As we realize that our lives are about “letting Jesus be Jesus in us,” we find that the challenge is not meeting a list of rules, but walking step by step in the power of Christ.|
Today on the John Ankerberg Show: Have you ever said, “I give up! I can’t live the Christian life”?
- Dr. Wayne Barber: I wake up some mornings, John, and I will be honest with you, I don’t even feel like a Christian. I could care less about wanting to be one. I mean, that’s just the way I wake up. You heard about the old boy who said, “Lord, I haven’t coveted. I haven’t had a lustful thought. I haven’t had lied. I have not cheated, but I am about to get out of bed.”
- I don’t have the ability to do what God’s told me to do. I can’t live the Christian life. So therefore someone lives in me to strengthen me, to enable me to give me the ability to do what He expects out of me.
- Yes, I have a brand new nature, I’ve partaken of the nature of Christ. But I still have my flesh to deal with and that is a battle royale that begins the moment we receive Christ into our hearts.
My guest today is conference speaker, author and pastor Dr. Wayne Barber, pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- Barber: He lives within us to enable everything He demands from us. That’s the good news. That’s the beauty of the gospel. It did not just stop at salvation. It started. Christ comes to live in us. He is our eternal life. He is our life and that’s what people need to understand. The same way you received Him, the same way you walk it. Just trust Him.
We invite you join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’ve got a terrific guest that I’ve been introducing to you, and I want you to know and love this man. It’s Dr. Wayne Barber. He is so much in demand around the world. He’s come back from Singapore, and from Europe and from Australia. I’m telling you, he goes to these conferences all over the world to help people with a problem that we all have, and that is, our flesh, as Christians, is addicted to sin. Now, folks, come on, don’t tell me, hey, you don’t know what we’re talking about. You know there are certain things in your life you seem to have a problem. They keep on. You say, “Lord, please forgive me of me doing that,” and, you know, a day later you do it again, or you might do it in the same day. That’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about. What’s going on? Why, if you’re a real Christian, do you have that problem? Some people say, “I must not be saved because I’ve got all these desires that are just going haywire.” That’s what we’re talking about today. And, Wayne, start us off. You’ve also felt this frustration in your own life as a Christian. Give me an illustration to start us off here.
- Barber: I was sitting at my table in a home in Mississippi when we lived there, and Roy Hession that wrote The Calvary Road and nine Christian classics was a mentor in my life, and he was sitting there with me. And I really loved the way that he was. He had food all over him, and he would talk with food in his mouth. I’m thinking, he’s just a normal guy like me, and yet God had used him. But I said “Roy, I confess a specific sin over and over and over and over. I get up off my knees; it eats my lunch all day long. What am I doing wrong?” He said, “Oh, son, victory is not you overcoming sin; victory is Jesus overcoming you. Why are you looking at the sin, because that puts you back up under the law? Why don’t you look at the Savior and develop your walk with Him? His Word cleanses you.” Well, that really triggered an “aha” moment in my life. I hadn’t seen that before. I was always taught what I was not supposed to do, but I never was taught what I could do, or what I get to do in Christ. Well, in Romans 6:14, he says, “For sin,” and it’s interesting he drops the definite article, sin of any kind. “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Now, I think that right there is where we need to start.
- Ankerberg: Okay.
- Barber: Because Romans 5 says we’re already in grace. That’s positional. But I have a choice of whether or not to live under grace or under law. Law demands me to perform. We reward performance in our world. God doesn’t. He’s not impressed with my performance. And the moment I put myself back up under law, and there are so many laws we can put ourselves up under. The quiet time law: I remember when I read a book once. They said if you get up at 4:00 in the morning God can use you. And I really wanted to be used. I was as sincere as I could be. I got up at 4:00, got down on my knees and did the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I closed my eyes. Woke up at about a quarter after 7:00 with the biggest cramp in my leg I’ve ever had. I said something is not right here, because I continued to try to do it in my own power, my own energy.
- Remember again, everything that God demands from us, He came to live in us to enable in the Person of His Holy Spirit. And so he says, if you’re under grace, if you’re living that way, surrender. See, law demands performance; grace demands surrender. And if I’m willing to surrender to Him, yield to Him, it’s not a changed life alone, it’s an exchanged life: All that I’m not for all that He is. And that overwhelms me. I can’t hardly even say it enough to where it does not somehow impact me. Everything that Wayne is not, that I know what I’m not, and there’s probably a lot more I don’t know, I’m glad I don’t know. Everything that I’m not, He is in my life if I will just surrender to Him. The Christian life is a river flowing through us. It’s allowing Jesus just to be Jesus in our life. Well,…
- Ankerberg: Let’s be clear about that thing of grace. We’ve got law over here and we’ve got biblical law and then we’ve got law that Christians make up to try to perform for God. If I do this, if I do pray these extra hours, this will impress God, that God will be good to me. Or if I give money, you know, God will reward me. Talk about what you really have in grace that gets us away from this law deal.
- Barber: Well, to me grace is the enabling, transforming power of Christ who lives within me. That’s what grace is.
- Ankerberg: And we’re already accepted.
- Barber: Already accepted. All of our sins have been forgiven. Why? You say, well why do we confess sin? It’s to appropriate the forgiveness that’s already ours. And it’s to cleanse us in our walk with Him. It’s to clear out the clutter. It’s to let God be refreshed in our life. That’s all that is. It’s not like you get forgiveness, you already have it. So to me that’s the bottom line is just learning to say, “Lord, I can’t, You never said I could; but You can, You always said You would.”
- Ankerberg: Yeah, alright, take us to the Scripture now.
- Barber: Romans 7 to me is that wonderful chapter. Now Romans 6, 7 and 8 are our favorite three chapters, most people. But my favorite is not 8, although I love it. It’s 7, because 7 pinpoints where the problem really is. It’s almost like he says, okay, you want to do it in your flesh? Help yourself. You want to be religious? Go for it. However, this is what’s waiting on you when you do.
- Ankerberg: Alright.
- Barber: The first part of Romans 7 you know, he just talks about how that we’ve died and there’s been a death and therefore we’re free now to walk up under grace. But I want to go to verse 14, because there’s such controversy over verses 14 down through verse 25. Is Paul saved? Is Paul lost? Well, first of all, that’s the wrong question. I’ve got dear friends that disagree with me on that. It’s the wrong question. The thing is about the law. It’s not about whether he is saved or lost. If he’s lost it condemns him. If he’s saved it’s going to cripple him, and that’s the part I identify with in verses 14 down. But he starts off and says, “For we know that the Law is spiritual.” There’s nothing wrong with the law. “But I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” What that means to me is there is a proclivity of the flesh still here. Even though I’ve got a brand new heart, I still have my flesh to deal with, and it is totally addicted to sin, every bit of it’s addicted to sin.
- A young fellow walked up to me one day and, well, his daddy did and he had him with him, in a church I was in. He said, “We need to come and talk to you, preacher.” I said, “Really?” I said, “Why?” And his son was already embarrassed. He those splotches on his neck. And he said, “Well, I caught my son looking at the Internet at some bad stuff, and I need to come and talk to you.” And people were standing around in the hall hearing all of this, and it just embarrassed the boy to death. I put my hand on his chest. I’ve never done this before. Pushed him out of my way and said, “I don’t want to talk to you, but I want to talk to you.” And I pulled him over to me and put my arms around him and I said, “Welcome to the struggles of the normal Christian life. I would love to sit down and help you realize victory is Jesus overcoming you,” because he already knows his flesh is addicted to sin.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, that’s a true story.
- Barber: It doesn’t take anything.
- Ankerberg: Yeah.
- Barber: Well, in verse 15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” When would that be? When I’m trying to measure to the law, I’m ending up the exact opposite. He says earlier, “I didn’t know it was wrong to covet.” And then what did he do? He got up and told God he wasn’t going to covet since that’s what God wanted. And all day long, covet, covet, covet, covet, covet, covet. He suddenly realized what doesn’t work.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I love what you said in your book, you know. You and Paul have something in common here.
- Barber: Yes, big time, I identify. I’m so grateful that he’s so honest in this thing. But to me when he says, “I’m doing the very things I don’t understand.” I’m going to tell another illustration.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and I think one of the things we’ve got to realize, this is the apostle Paul talking.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: This is the guy that we’re reading his letters.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: He is the guy that people in the churches, they just listen to his words with a hush, with an awe, okay. And now he comes clean about what he himself is fighting that we’re all fighting. Keep on going.
- Barber: Yeah, well, I think of so many things. We were going skiing out in Colorado, spring skiing, which meant we were coming from the southeast and knew nothing about spring skiing, that it’s 20 degrees in the morning. It’s 70 at noon. So we had overdressed. We had long underwear, and the sweaters, the whole thing. I took my kids in to get their skis. They got their skis and their boots. Now I’m broke, and I’m kind of wishing I hadn’t done this.
- We get on the gondola to go up to where the lifts are. We get up there and I’m just frustrated. I’m sweating. I’m hot. I’ve got too many clothes on. I’m broke. I said, “Steven, put your skis on.” Steven put his on. I said, “Now, don’t move.” He has a tendency to move and I don’t see him the rest of the day. I said, “Stand right there.” I said, “Now, Stephanie, put your skis on.” She popped her first on in just beautifully. The second one she tried to pop it in, and it didn’t pop. And I said, “Stephanie,” I was so frustrated, I said, “Put your skis on.” She said, “I’m putting my skis on. It won’t work.” Finally, I said, “Stephanie,” and a word came out of my mouth.
- Now, I was on radio with Dr. Zodhiates, a lot of other things were going on in my life, co-taught at Precept Ministry. All of a sudden, where did that word come from? I don’t, I think everybody within 50 yards heard me. And my daughter went “Dad!” We got on the lift to go back down to where the shop was, and I could not look at her. We were facing each other. I just kept looking out the window. We get down there, he said, “All you had to do was cock the little thing back,” and I’m thinking I knew that, and then I really felt stupid. We get back on it going up. Finally, I looked at her and I said, “Stephanie, I want you to know that what you heard come from me was what your daddy is, apart from the enabling power of Jesus Christ. And I ask you to forgive me,” which is, by the way, became a household thing for us. And Stephanie said, “Daddy, I’m so glad you said it, I was about to say the same thing.”
- Ankerberg: Let’s hold that illustration. We have got a lot more folks. We are going to take a break, but we’ll be right back. Stick with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. And I’m talking with Dr. Wayne Barber and he’s talking about why is it that if I’m a Christian, why is it that I sin so much, and how do I stop sinning? What’s the secret here, because I’m missing a piece again? Alright, and you’re taking us through what the apostle Paul said, so kind of review where we’re at, and then let’s roll on.
- Barber: Well, it’s in Romans 7. And Romans 6, 7, and 8: Romans 6, you know, he talks about what has taken place in our life and how that we can walk and live under grace; Romans 7, to me, is a picture of what happens when I put myself back up under the performance mentality of the law. Now, I can do that as a Christian, but I certainly lived under it when I was lost. And so he draws a picture. It doesn’t matter, law is the same on both sides of the cross, and so is the flesh. It’s as wicked before the cross as it is after the cross. The difference after the cross is, I don’t have to live yielded to it. I don’t have to do that. I have a choice I can make.
- And so he says—I love Paul. I just love him; it’s like, hey, this guy knows me—he says, “But if I do the very thing I don’t want to do, I agree with the law, confessing that it’s good.” There’s not a thing wrong with what God requires in our life. The problem is not with Him, it’s with us. We can’t accomplish it. So now he says, “No longer am I the one doing it, but sin,” and there are those definite articles again. That old lawless whatever it is, that still remains in us, “which dwells in me.” And then he says something in verse 18: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me,” and somebody says, see there, he has to be lost. Well, now wait a minute, “that is, in my flesh.” There is nothing good in my flesh either side of the cross. Then he says, “For the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” And then he goes back and basically repeats himself.
- I was thinking about an illustration. I was drawn for a once-in-a-lifetime hunt when I was in New Mexico. It was an oryx hunt, once-in-a-lifetime now. It was on a military base, White Sands Missile Range. And so, I was drawn. So I took two guys with me who knew no more than I did about hunting oryx, and we go out there. Well, first of all, you can’t take a camera, can’t take a phone, obviously, because all the restrictions of getting on a missile base. And so we went out, and we had no clue what we were doing.
- A long story short, we hunted the first day, I thought I was going to die. Out west there is no perception of distance. You think that’s just two miles. No, it’s 20. And so we walked and walked and walked and walked. I even shot at one just to, it was so far off, I just wanted to see how close I could get to it, but never even got close. He looked up and wondered what that was. The next day we go out and we’re dead tired. We’re dead tired, so we’re going to go home. We’re going to go home. We ran into a game warden. He said, “Hey, guys, don’t go home yet. You have 45 more minutes of shooting time. Go down highway, I think it was 12.” Okay, highway 12 on a military base is a little different than highway 12 someplace else. We started riding down that road and all of a sudden—I was half asleep, the other fellow was driving my truck—he just slams on his brakes and says “There he is, there he is.” I said, “What?” And he said “The oryx.” He said, “Get out!”
- Ankerberg: What is an oryx?
- Barber: An oryx is, they call them Gemsbok in Africa. They have those two horns that go way back. Now, they don’t do like this. That’s an ibex, but it goes all the way back. They’re great big animals, and by the way, they are not afraid of anything. The only natural predator is the African lion, so they are not sweating anything over here. And so I started to go across the road, because you’re not supposed to shoot across a paved road. My guys from the car say, “Shoot him! Shoot him!” And I said, “I’m on the wrong side of the road.” They said, “Nobody’s coming.” So I leaned over the hood, took him down.
- Well, there was a great; the only redemptive part of the story, it was a great shot. Well, we get him out. It liked to have killed us. I was the youngest of all of these other guys. And we couldn’t get him into my truck. It was too heavy, after we had field-dressed him. Here comes an officer of the base, and we said, “Awe, he’ll help us.” He says, “No, I don’t have mic that will reach.” I asked him if he would call the base and tell them we were running late. “I don’t have mic.” Long story short, he says, “Well, I will help you get the oryx in there.” But here comes a guy that his mic does go to the base. And he tells him what’s going on. The guy says “You shot you an oryx, didn’t you.” I said, “I sure did.” “Where did you shoot him?” “Right over there.” Second time, “Where did you shoot him?” “Right over there.” I should have known by now. He asked me a third time, “Where did you shoot him?” I said, “Right over there.” He gets on his mic and says, “We need a Game and Fish Commission officer. We have an illegal oryx that’s been shot.”
- I’m thinking, do what? He said, “Don’t you know that’s restricted? Don’t you have a map?” I said, “Man we’ve been hunting for two days. We’re dead tired, but a game warden told us to come down here.” Well, a long story, the game warden gets there. He comes up to me and he says, “Who’s the shooter?” And I told him, it was me. He said, “Do you have anything to tell me?” I said, “I’ve got a whole lot to tell you.” He said, “Well, tell me how it all happened.” I said, “I got out of the truck” and then it dawned on me, I shot across a paved road, plus I also shot it in a restricted area, not knowing. And so immediately my flesh said, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. And so I told him I got out of the truck walked across the road and shot that. Lied like a dog.
- Well, long story short, he took me back to the base. All the game wardens are in there like I had shot the President or something. And, I mean, it was like, what has he done, you know. Three days go by. They haven’t told me yet what the fine is. It could have been very much. Went on a staff retreat, didn’t have to worry about it. On a Thursday my wife left town to help her mom move. On a Friday morning about 4:00, God woke me up and, buddy, that’s when I really realized what my flesh, how wicked it really was. I began to see what I had done as sin. And I had to deal with it. And it’s like God said, “You call that man.”
- So I called him and by the time I called, he wasn’t there, so he put me on hold for a whole day. He was out in the field. The next day he calls me back. Well, by that time, I had worked myself out of it. “I don’t have to tell him. That was just a test.” So he calls and I said, “I just wanted to know the number that I need to call to get my fine.” And he said, “Is that all?” I said, “That’s all.” Boy, the Holy Spirit just liked to have killed me. So I had to call him back. And when I called him back they put me on hold for 20 minutes. Finally he comes on and says, “Wayne, I thought we just talked.” I said, “Yeah, we did. But you’ve got to understand who I am. I’m a believer and I’ve my flesh to contend with every day of my life. And I want to tell you something. I lied to you like a dog. I shot across the road. Now, I didn’t shoot from the car or from the road, but I did shoot across the road. I just wanted you to know that everything else I told you is true.” And he said, “Wayne,” he starts laughing. Is that good or bad? And finally he says, “Wayne, I knew you had shot across road.” I said, “How did you know that?” He said, “The shell casing was in the middle of the road.” I’m thinking, oh, gosh, I forgot all about that.
- But the amazing thing was how quickly our flesh responds. And that’s what we’ve got to see as believers, whether it’s on a religious camp or whether it’s a rebellious. It’s all rebellious whether it even looks religious or not. The root of all sin is unbelief, period. And if belief started it all, belief is going to have to carry it all the way through.
- Ankerberg: Alright, show us from Scripture what the answer is, because, hey, you folks that are listening right now, we’ve all got that same problem and there have been times when you’ve lied like a dog too, and I’ve lied like a dog, and then the Holy Spirit starts to convict you, and you’ve got to confess your wrongdoing. But how do you get over this thing of, when it comes up, you say let’s go with the flow, let’s go with the sin? What does Christ propose here?
- Barber: Well you know Paul says “I see in me a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law in my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members, that I’m supposed to be set free from.” And then he said “Wretched man that I am!” The word “wretched” is “nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.” It’s that idea. He says, “Wretched man that I’m!” Who, not what, “Who will set me free from this body of death?” Verse 25: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, if it’s my flesh it’s always serving the law of sin.” No matter how good I try to make it.
- And then he says in verse 1 of chapter 8, “Therefore,” and I love this, “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” He’s not talking about losing your salvation. He’s talking about shifting gears and exchanging your life. Come back to where grace is and trust Him to do in you and through you what you cannot do. Lord, I have a lustful feeling, or covetous, or whatever the sin is. Lay it before Him. Say, Lord, I’m honest about it, but I don’t how, I cannot whip it. And God says, “I never said you could. Now, look at Me, and let Me exchange you, let My life flow through you.” And that’s when we start walking in victory. It’s not a seven months penalty that God puts on us. It’s Christ in us coming right back to where we departed.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I love it. You confess your sin to the Lord. He forgives you. He says, hey, I know that’s the way you are. And I think for folks that have struggled with some of these sins, again, they’ve got to remember if you don’t even have an inclination, you just know it’s wrong, you say I could never live that way, the way you’re talking about, Wayne, what God is talking about, tell God that and say, “Please start to change me.” And read the Scripture and just say, “Lord, change me.” Because this is, again, not something that you manufacture. We cannot. You say, “Lord, You’ve got to create these desires, these feelings in my heart,” and then you say, “Lord, now help me in action to actually do what You want me to do. You have got to live through me at that moment.” So when you come to that next moment, you say, “Jesus, I can’t do it. I’m here again. Live Your life through me.” And you learn by experience what the Scripture is talking about. That’s why I love what we’re talking about.
- Alright, next week, Wayne is going to talk about, what’s the motivation for surrendering to God. What are the promises of God that surround all that we’re talking about? Wayne calls this “having a blast with Jesus,” okay, living life with joy and power. He’s got some fabulous stories that are going to illustrate what the Bible is saying, so I hope that you’ll join us to hear about the promises of God that apply to you that we’re really not enjoying until we understand what God is saying, and it will motivate us to say, “Lord, live Your life through me.” So I hope that you’ll join us next week.