New Year, New Me

external-content.duckduckgo.comAs I write this, the year 2022 is quickly approaching. When this lesson is actually taught, it will already be the year 2022. All of us get excited about New Year’s Eve. Many of us make resolutions claiming slogans like, “new year, new me”. Usually we have health goals in mind when we make resolutions. Sometimes we have habits in mind, creating new ones and quitting old ones. What about our spiritual resolutions, have you considered making a spiritual resolution this New Year? I hope that you will consider one. I want to take a look at a group of people who needed a spiritual resolution and by examining their situation and response, hopefully, learn some applicable truths for my own spiritual life.

The children of Israel had witnessed miracle after miracle in their exodus from Egypt. They did not just hear about the mighty deeds of God, they witnessed them. A lot of times people will say, “If I could just see God do something, I would believe”. The children of Israel are proof that you can see God move in a tangible way and still not live by faith. So far, we have learned some very specific truths about God, about Moses, and about mankind in the book of Exodus.

The children of Israel faltered in their faith. It is possible to do, even when you have the best of intentions because as human beings, we all have a pesky sin nature. When we become followers of Jesus Christ by faith, we are born again and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is now in us so that we have the ability to say NO to our sin nature. Our sin nature is powerless until we engage it and give it power. In other words, if we surrender to faith, we will not engage our sin nature. If we engage our sin nature, our faith falters. This is a choice that we have to make moment by moment, day by day.

I. Sin nature on full display

As I mentioned in the above sections, the children of Israel had witnessed God move in miraculous ways. You would think that they would be set for life when it came to trusting the Lord and surrendering to faith. The Scriptures reveal the truth to us. This battle is not fought on past experiences. Instead, it is fought moment by moment, day by day.

2 The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.
5 “On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” (Exodus 16)

What does surrendering to our sin nature look like? We see it clearly in this passage. The children of Israel begin to grumble against their spiritual authority figures. Do you have a spiritual authority figure in your life who encourages and challenges you to surrender to faith moment by moment, day by day? Many Westerners do not understand the importance of a spiritual authority figure in their lives. Please don’t say something super spiritual like, “Jesus is my spiritual Authority figure”. If that is the case, great, because He set up the mentorship paradigm when He sent His disciples out to make more disciples. In other words, He established an earthly spiritual authority. When you do not have an earthly spiritual authority figure, you are not following Jesus as your spiritual authority figure either. I know that this is painful to hear but it is so needed in our modern world. Secondly, if you do have a spiritual authority figure, how do you treat him? The children of Israel grumbled against theirs. The Hebrew verb to grumble is an interesting word picture. It means to spend an evening whispering in low tones about someone else. The children of Israel were obviously upset with Moses yet, they did not go to him directly. Instead, a whispering murmur broke out throughout the camp. Everyone wanted to talk ABOUT Moses instead of talking TO Moses. What brought on their disposition? The had a rose colored view of the past. They had already forgotten just how bad it was in Egypt. They were hungry and they gave themselves over completely to their desires. They were being led by their fleshly desires completely. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever talked ABOUT someone instead of talking TO that person? That is what surrendering to sin nature looks like practically, in our every day lives.

Moses said, “This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.” (Exodus 16:8)

Moses reveals to us that when we grumble against our spiritual authority figure, we actually grumble against the Lord. This was grumbling over food. God met their needs and they were satisfied. What about the next time that they have a need, will they remember this event and trust the Lord, or, will they give in to their sin nature? I’d like to think that they learned their lesson, but I know myself all too well.

1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”
3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.” (Exodus 17)

As you can clearly see, the children of Israel did not learn their lesson. Instead, they fell back into the same pattern as before. This time though, they were ready to move from talk to action. They are no longer satisfied with talking ABOUT Moses, they were ready to stone him to death. This is what happens when we give in more and more to our sin nature. It takes us on a natural downward spiral until we do things that we are ashamed of. So, knowing this about ourselves, what is the key to victory?

II. Surrender to Christ

Moses was at his wit’s end and he was afraid for his life. He turned to God for help.

5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exodus 17)

The people, after all that they had seen, heard, and experienced were still not sure if the Lord were among them or not. Again, they have surrendered to their sin nature. God provides for the children of Israel to satisfy their thirst. How do this relate to us today? What can we learn and apply to our own lives? I want to turn to the Apostle Paul to discover these spiritual implications of what happens in this passage in Exodus 17.

1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;
2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 and all ate the same spiritual food;
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (I Corinthians 10)

The event described in Exodus 17 is explained by the Apostle Paul. The satisfaction that came to the children of Israel through the rock is a foreshadowing of the spiritual satisfaction that we receive in Christ. In their battle with their sin nature, the children of Israel lose more battles that they win. They seemed to be enslaved to the desires of their sin nature. They needed an intervention. They needed someone to rescue them from the power of their sin nature. This condition of being enslaved to the desires of sin nature is the condition of every human being ever born. We all need a Rescuer and Jesus Christ is the One who can rescue us from the power of our sin nature.

III. Walk in victory

The children of Israel had an age old enemy just as all mankind has an age old enemy.

8 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.
9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
10 Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (Exodus 17)

Amalek represents mankind’s age old enemy, our sin nature. Did you notice WHEN the enemy attacked? He waited until the children of Israel were at their weakest point and then he struck. This is what your sin nature and my sin nature does. When we are walking tall and strong in our faith, our sin nature is like a little lamb. It’s when we grow weary that our sin nature really works hard to tempt us.

11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.
13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. (Exodus 17)

It’s all about the surrender! If you surrender to faith, your sin nature does not stand a chance. If you surrender to your sin nature, your faith does not stand a chance. Did you notice one very important key to victory? In this battle against the enemy, Moses did not try to fight alone. He relied on others to assist him. I cannot win this battle against my sin nature if I try to fight alone. Moses reveals the secret to success, the secret to victory.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
15 Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner;
16 and he said, “The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17)

The Lord is our banner of victory. He has won the victory and gives it to us. All we have to do is walk in that victory daily. This is what the name Jehovah-Nissi means. This is a characteristic of the Lord that we must all know. The victory has already been won and all that we have to do is walk in that victory.

Are you ready for a new you in 2022? Have you surrendered to Christ? Are you walking in the victory that Christ provides on a daily basis? Are you losing your battle to your sin nature more than you would like to admit? You can make a change today but remember, victory is yours but it is not guaranteed. You have to walk in that victory every single day!

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