One thing that the Lord has taught me this last year was that wisdom is really, really important. I know, that’s a total “No, duh” statement, but it’s amazing how much wisdom is undervalued in many charismatic christian circles. In my opinion, this is usually due to our view of spirituality and how it often leads to doing foolish things in order to be “people of faith”. But God wants us to know in this hour that you can be a person who is full of the spirit, full of faith, and still walk in godly wisdom as a mature son or daughter of God. You do not have to throw your brain out the window in order to walk in the Lord’s ways. It’s a lie straight from the pit which says that wisdom and spirituality are mutually exclusive. Yes, we understand that there is a “human/fallen” aspect to the mind and intellect, what the bible calls “the carnal mind that is hostile toward God” (Rom.8:7). But once you’ve been born again, washed in the blood, and have begun to be transformed through the renewing of your mind meditating in the word of God daily, you can differentiate between the carnal mind and the redeemed mind that God has given you. You can think, you can solve problems, you can figure out ways to do things better and more efficiently in your life, and God absolutely wants you to!
At one time the Lord floored me when He said to me, “Many charismatics have to believe in a miracle for things they could easily have if they just repented (changed their minds)”. What an amazing statement. Here’s what I discovered as I looked to the bible to break down this word that God gave me:
The Greek word most commonly used for “repent” in the New Testament is metanoeo (met-an-o-eh'-o), which means to change your mind. Foolish thinking leads to foolish action, and many charismatics are forced to believe in a miracle to have God bail them out of situations where wisdom would have more than supplied for them to begin with. We see this a lot with charismatics when it comes to finances. Yes, God calls us to walk by faith, especially when it comes to finances, but many foolish money handling practices in the charismatic church (which are ultimately not biblical) are justified with the slogan, “I’m just walking by faith”. God wants us to know that we’re called not just to be people who move spontaneously in the spirit, but people who study the wisdom of the word and transform our behavior and habits to follow his ways. If you’re a hearer and doer of the word (Ja.1:22-25) then you are going to implement biblical wisdom in your life, especially when it comes to finances. If you’re a student of the word you’re going to implement the treasures of wisdom the word contains for every area of your life, including overcoming sin.
THE POWER OF GOD’S WISDOM COMING THROUGH THE BLOOD OF JESUS
In today’s article I want to talk to you about the role that wisdom plays in overcoming sin. There’s an old saying which says that a person should be more concerned with “working smart” then “working hard”, because if you work smart you’ll be able to accomplish just as much, if not more, than if you were just putting your head down and working hard and intelligibly. It sounds noble and hearty blue collar to be a “hard worker”, but we cannot reach our full potential that God has endowed us with and bear the fruit God has called us to bear if we do not endeavor to do things wisely as well. Many Christians today are struggling with sin because they are trying to overcome it with sheer willpower instead of using wisdom like the bible teaches. Yes, I believe that there is power in the blood, and yes I believe that it is ultimately the power of that blood that has set me free from the law of sin & death (Rom.8:2). But we must never forget that part of the “administration” of that power which came pouring forth from Emmanuel’s veins on the cross was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17), and one of the names for the Holy Spirit that was poured out is “Wisdom” (Is.11:2). The power of the blood and the wisdom of God given by the Spirit are not mutually exclusive. It is our own bad pentecostal doctrine and culture that has taught us to view them as separate things.
In my own life I have found myself struggling with sin at times, struggling with bad habits, struggling with bad behavior, which after what seemed like thousands of attempts at overcoming and failing, made me feel helpless and eternally bound. It wasn’t until God gave me “wisdom keys” to overcoming my bad behavior that I began to see the battle turn in my favor. Trust me, sheer willpower is rarely the best course of action when trying to do the right thing. We need to use the wisdom of God, which has been made available to us by the Spirit, to design our lives in such a way that walking in holiness becomes easy and walking in sin becomes hard.
THE GROUNDBREAKING VIETNAM STUDY OF 1971
In 1971 a group of American politicians visited the troops in Vietnam and made a disturbing discovery. While there in Vietnam they learned that over 15% of all the troops were addicted to heroin. Research done after this revealed that 35% of soldiers had tried heroin and that as many as 20% became addicts. The problem was worse than they thought. This revelation led to major action in Washington, including the creation of a special office called “The Special Action Office of Drug Abuse Prevention” under President Nixon to promote prevention and rehabilitation and to follow up with servicemen as they returned home.
In the follow up research, after the troops returned home, they made an even more startling discovery that became ground breaking in the field of behavioral science. They found that only 5% of servicemen were addicted to heroin after they came home, and only 15% of those who were addicted overseas relapsed after they had been home for a while. The study eventually concluded that addictions lost much of their power if they could change the environment for the addict. When the context changed, so did the habit (1).
In the context of war, when the men didn’t know if they were going to live another day, when heroin was very easy and inexpensive to get their hands on, yes a high number of troops became addicted to drugs overseas. But when they returned home their lives were no longer at risk, stress was greatly reduced, and heroin was much harder to get a hold of, state side, at that time. Environment truly mattered, and this study changed many behavioral scientist’s beliefs about both addiction and rehabilitation. This eventually gave way to the rise of “rehab centers” for addicts which focused on changing their environment long enough for them to break the bad habits associated with addiction and overcome the bad behavior. The people that are prone to relapse are the ones that end up going back to their previous environment where the drug and substance temptations are still in the environment. So how does this apply to Christians who are trying to stop sinning?
WISDOM TO OVERCOME SIN
If overcoming sin is truly a matter of “power”, and the blood of Christ had more than adequate power to break sin’s hold on us and completely set us free, then why do so many Christians struggle with sin? I believe one of the main reasons is because we make things harder than they should be because we do not think of wisdom as a key for overcoming sin.
“If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success.”
Now this scripture found in (Ecc.10:10) can be applied to a number of life circumstances. Take running a business, for example. The axe is the company you have for making money and serving clients, but unless you build that company according to wisdom then you are going to have to strive more and more to make a living. The dull edge is likened to those who don’t do well at business, who don’t run their business wisely. This scripture is a perfect picture of someone working hard versus someone working smart.
As Mike Murdock says, “One day of favor is worth a thousand days of labor”. The same can be said of wisdom, which is ultimately what Solomon is getting at in this verse mentioned above. Wisdom brings success. Wisdom sharpens your edge so you don’t have to kill yourself swinging the axe to knock down the tree. Wisdom makes things flow smoother. Wisdom saves you money. Wisdom causes you to be much more efficient. Wisdom maximizes the tools that God has given you to ensure success. If you are killing your arm to chop down the tree, even when, then the tool (the axe) is not working properly. When the axe is working properly it will make chopping down the tree feel much easier, and you will be able to chop down many more trees in a fraction of the time.
Many people who struggle with sin are like the lumberjack who is killing his arm trying to take down the tree with a dull axe. God has given us the tools to have success in this life, and that includes succeeding in living a holy life that is both healthy and pleasing to the Lord. As we search the scriptures and endeavor to grow daily in the riches of God’s knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, I guarantee you that God will give you wisdom keys to make overcoming the thing you're currently struggling with much easier. One of those wisdom keys is found in the story we just read about the Vietnam soldiers: take control of your environment.
WISDOM KEY: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
If you surround yourself with wise people, then you will be wise. If you surround yourself with fools, then you will end up becoming a fool just like your companions and you will reap the reward of fools, which is not good! The first part of taking control of your environment is assessing your friendships and relationships and taking the necessary steps to become the person you’re called to be. Obviously, if you’re trying to overcome sin and you’re hanging out with people who are openly sinning, then the chances are significantly higher that you will not overcome that sin. If you struggle with alcohol, stay out of bars, and if your friends are alcoholics then they can’t be your friend again until they become sober like you. Simple but wise.
When the Vietnam soldiers were overseas they were surrounded by other people that were addicted to drugs. This greatly increased the soldiers chances of becoming addicted themselves while in that environment. The moment they got away from that environment and away from those people, many of them broke the addiction and never went back to it again. What does your environment look like and who are the people in that environment? Are they helping you walk with the Lord or making it difficult? Are they helping you walk out your call or making it difficult?
If you’re struggling with overeating or eating too much of the wrong thing, then quit making the junk food so visible and accessible in your home. Put the fruit in the bowl right out on the counter and put the potato chips on the top shelf, in the garage, in the very back. Studies have shown that when people take junk food off the counter and put it on the top shelf in a closed cupboard, the likelihood that they’ll eat it goes down. Studies also show that if they take the junk food out of the kitchen and put it somewhere hard to reach in a completely different room (like the garage), the likelihood they’ll eat it goes down even more. The same studies have been done in office spaces with candy bowls that are on the desk, in a cabinet in the kitchen, or down the hall in a completely different room. Hospital and school cafeterias that put water bottles in heavier traffic areas while putting soda machines in slower traffic areas increased water bottle sales and decreased soda sales by a significant margin. Design your environment to help you be the person you want to be and achieve the things you want to achieve. This is wisdom from the Lord.
If you’re a married man and you’re struggling with looking at pornography, then quit staying up late after your wife has gone to bed. If you’re not married, quit staying up late. Why? Because studies show that overwhelmingly most pornography is watched after 10 pm (2). Most people don’t have a problem with porn, they have a problem with lifestyle. If you are a purpose-driven person then you don’t have time to always be staying up late. People that are purpose-driven have a reason to get up early, jump out of bed, and attack the day to achieve great things! The most productive successful people in the world are early morning risers, and the most productive successful people generally don’t have problems with things like porn, because they don’t make time for it.
Christians are told that they need to have more willpower, that they need to spiritualize their desires away and try to be holier than their natural God-given sex drive. But Paul had a “wisdom solution” to the sex drive. He said, “if you cannot control yourself then you should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor.7:9). He didn’t condemn his followers for being aroused all the time, He gave them a wisdom solution: get married and sanctify your sexual activity within the bonds of holy matrimony. In Paul’s day, this might have sufficed since there were no computers in people’s homes and smartphones in people’s pockets which give anyone instant access to millions of hours of free porn. We need more wisdom solutions for the day which we’re living in, and I’m giving you one here. Your chances of being tempted to watch porn dramatically spike after it gets dark, so heed the biblical wisdom of “early will I seek you Lord” (Ps.63:1-3). You start getting up early to seek the Lord, then you’ll have to go to bed early, and you almost completely wipe out your chances of visiting a porn site. With this one adjustment to your lifestyle, with applying this one wisdom key, you design a life which is much more conducive to holiness & productivity, as opposed to late night temptation and unproductive time-wasting activities like binge watching TV.
67% of all porn is viewed on smartphone devices (3). Why? Because sin seeks the path of convenience and ease. Add the “wisdom key” of shutting down your phone at a certain time each night to the wisdom key of going to bed early and rising early, and you make your environment that much more conducive to not sinning in this way. Now yes, of course, anyone can sin if they go out of their way to do so, but I’m not speaking to those people. I’m speaking to Christians who have the desire to live a life that’s pleasing to the Lord and a desire to be faithful to the ones they love and are looking for solutions. These are some wisdom solutions to a few of the behavioral sins that many Christians struggle with today in our modern world, and hope these solutions help.
As I stated in this article, there is power in the blood of Jesus to break every chain and deliver us from whatever binds us! But as I’ve also stated (and hopefully proven) wisdom plays a significant role in the administration of Christ’s power over sin. Quit attacking your problems with a dull axe. Put an edge on that tool by using God’s wisdom keys for life and watch how much your life changes! 2022 is your year to overcome things that you’ve been struggling with for a long time. Do it with the power of wisdom! Do it with the wisdom of God’s word!
In his Service,
- Atomic Habits, pg.91-93, by James Clear
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