You Can Change 10: When do you struggle?

These are my notes and some reflections on Tim Chester’s book: You Can Change

This chapter invites us to consider what are the circumstances which cause our sin.  What sets you off?  Is there a pattern?  As you reflect on the circumstances of anger, bitterness etc it will most likely reveal what your heart sin is.

1. God cares about our struggles:

God sees our struggles and hears our cry for help (Exodus 3:7-8, many Psalms)

God has experienced our struggles first-hand – he knows the what it is to be hungry, assaulted, rejected, tired, lonely, tempted, opposed or busy.

God is with us here and now through the Spirit – we have both a divine Counsellor (who reveals God’s good promises to us) and a divine Comforter (who reminds us of the truth).

2. God has done something about our struggles:

God uses our struggles – Romans 8:28.  When we draw the link between suffering and growth then we can begin to understand all the biblical passages that tell us to rejoice in our sufferings.  We rejoice because God is using all these things for our good (becoming like Jesus) and His glory.  Sometimes we see this in our lives and sometimes we can only hold on to this truth by faith.

God has promised to bring them to an end – he has taken them upon himself to bring them to an end.  On the cross Jesus bore all the wrath of God, taking away the curse of sin.  And in his resurrection we see the in-breaking life of God’s new creation.

3. Our struggles reveal our hearts

a) My behaviour comes from my heart:

What we see is behaviour and emotions it is easy to focus on these external problems.  But our sinful behaviour is a reflection of our sinful hearts.  “Every sinful action and negative emotion reveals a problem in our hearts.” p73-74

b) My circumstances trigger my heart:

“Our struggles and circumstances often trigger sin but they never cause it.   The root cause is always the heart and its sinful desires.  We choose how we respond to circumstances and what determines our choices are the thinking and desires of our hearts.” p74

Jerry Bridges says we should not use the language of defeat when we speak about sin – implying an overwhelming by external factors.  Rather use the language of disobedience – it is a more accurate description.

This next illustration has been playing on my mind for a few days now – so I will quote it in full:

“If you saw me in my study at 7.30 in the morning reading my Bible or praying you might think me the most godly of men.  There I am: calm. peaceful, trusting.  But observe me half an hour later as I attempt to marshal my daughters out of the door and you’d see a man who’s far from godly.  I used to think of myself as that calm, gentle person the 7.30 me – and concluded I was pretty godly!  If I’m provoked to sin, then the problem must be whatever provoked me.  But I’ve come to realise that the real me is the 8:00 me – the person revealed when the sinful desires of my heart are exposed by trying circumstances and annoying people.   The real me is revealed when I’m too tired to keep up the pretence.” (p75-6)

c) We sin because we do not trust God and do not worship God:

Sin happens when we belive lies about God instead of God’s Word and when we worship/desire false gods instead of Him.  The answer is faith – trust God instead of believing lies – and repentance – worship/desire God instead of idols.


~ by John on January 3, 2011.

One Response to “You Can Change 10: When do you struggle?”

  1. It’s very good information…

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