God’s Pathway to Freedom
by Pastor Byron Sarracino
The Christian life is a battleground. Even though we are forgiven by God’s grace, we are still prone to yield to our sinful nature. As Christians, we do not have to continue living in sin, because through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can live victorious over self-destruction! We are going to look at Romans 8 to find some principles to help us on God’s pathway to freedom!
1) Remind yourself of what Jesus did for you! (Romans 8:1-4)
Every day we face a struggle with the carnal (sin) nature. We must develop the habit of reminding ourselves that God has pardoned us from the wicked and evil things we have done. If God has delivered us from His wrath against sin, why would we want to do something that goes against the revealed will of God? (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
The story is told about a man on the Navajo Reservation who went to visit his friend. When he arrived at his friend’s Hogan, he saw two dogs fighting in the yard. The visitor asked his friend which dog was going to win. The Navajo man replied, “the one I feed the most.” And so it is in our lives as well. If you feed the flesh, fleshly desires will get stronger. If you feed the spiritual man, you will desire God more.
2) We need to change our thinking! (Romans 8:5-6)
We live in the information age, and many people are viewing things on the internet and TV that are unhealthy. Controlling your thought life plays an important part in what God can do in your life. Uncontrolled thoughts have the ability to discourage you and lead you down a path that God does not want you to go down.
What should you do when you struggle with your thought life?
Choose to dwell on the truth. (Philippians 4:8)
Captivate new thoughts. (II Corinthians 10:5)
Renew your mind. (Romans 12:1-2)
3) We now have the ability to say no! (Romans 8:12-13)
If we are going to follow Jesus, we must learn to deny ourselves. As a child of God, the flesh is no longer in the driver’s seat. We now have the ability to say no to temptation and activities that are not right for us. In denying the flesh, we will find life! The best way to live the Christian life is to practice yielding to the Holy Spirit every day we live! (I John 4:4; I Corinthians 10:13)
4) Turn our thoughts to God when we are afraid! (Romans 8:15-16)
When anxiety and fear begin to creep in, turn your thoughts to God! People who do not have the Holy Spirit live in bondage to fear. It is not God’s will for us to live in fear. When your thoughts begin to wreak havoc on you, turn your thoughts to God’s promises. (II Timothy 1:7)
5) Focus on the future, not the past! (Romans 8:17-18)
Sometimes we let bad decisions from the past influence how we think about the future. We allow the past to discourage us, and we quit. Instead of focusing on the past, we need to remind ourselves that we are saved by God’s grace and continue by God’s grace. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Many people only look at today. Or last week. Maybe you made some bad choices. I can assure you, according to the Scripture, God still loves you with an everlasting love. We must learn to confess, repent, and press on! (I John 1:9; James 4:8)
6) Remember that God is still good and still in control! (Romans 8:19-25)
If we focus on the circumstances around us, we will become very discouraged. We must remember that God sent heaven’s best, the dear Lord Jesus, to die on the cross for us and rise from the grave! One day, Jesus will come and take us home to be with Him! (John 11:25-26) In the meantime, God will remain faithful and in full control of the events of this world.
7) Overcome your insecurity through God’s precious promises! (Romans 8:30-39)
In Romans 7, Paul is transparent with the struggles he faced in this life. It is sobering to realize that we are all only one choice away from starting down a trail that will lead us to a path of destruction. But God has something better for us! Our insecurity is defeated when we believe and trust in the timeless and unchanging promises of God!
Are you struggling with your sin nature?
Are you thinking thoughts that are defeating you?
Are you yielding to temptation?
Are you living in bondage to fear?
Are you focusing on the past?
Are you questioning God’s goodness?
Are you heading down a path to destruction?
God has a better plan for you! His thoughts toward you are thoughts of peace (Jeremiah 29:11). If you have never trusted in Christ as your Savior, God wants to give you the blessing of salvation. If you are a believer who is struggling with making bad decisions, God wants to give you the strength to obey as you yield to the Holy Spirit. Will you choose to follow God’s prescribed pathway to freedom?
Byron Sarracino is from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico where he currently resides and serves as pastor in his local church. He and Tricia have five children. His story of growing up on the reservation and finding hope while serving in the Armed Forces is one of several stories touching lives through the Native Voices Project (click here to watch his story).