In my last post I tossed out the idea that when we choose Jesus to be our Lord and our Savior, our “old things” pass away… but, like gangrenous tissue, they are still apart us, threatening our new lives in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Although the old things no longer have the power over us they once did, until we remove them, they can still affect us in seriously detrimental ways. But what does removing our dead spiritual tissue look like?
Unlike a case of physical gangrene , there is no antibiotic to take or surgery that can be performed to remove our dead spiritual baggage – the lies we’ve believed our whole lives, the sinful coping mechanisms we developed before we met Jesus, and the erroneous thought patterns ingrained in our psyches as unbelievers.
No, the removal of spiritual gangrene requires two things: a desire to get better and a trust in the Great Physician performing the “operation”.
When we become believers, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts. The Bible says the Spirit’s job is to guide us into truth (John 16:13). One way He does that is by convicting us – giving us a feeling of “that shouldn’t be” when we sin or are tempted to believe lies. When we feel this conviction, we can ignore it, or we can pursue it.
We know we are pursuing what’s behind our conviction when we start asking questions like, “Why is this wrong?” and “How can I change?” When we want to get to the bottom of why we’re feeling convicted, we are almost ready for surgery.
The other part of our pre-op is emotionally preparing ourselves for the pain during the procedure. Dealing with parts of ourselves that are unhealthy is hard. Which is why most people never do. But the Lord says He is trustworthy. It will be painful, but He will use the painful process to heal us if we let Him.
When we want to get better and resolve to trust Him no matter how intense the pain gets, we are ready for surgery.
Unfortunately, we will not be anesthetized. We must be awake and cooperative during the entire procedure, or it won’t work.
We begin by allowing God to label parts of our lives – thoughts as well as actions – as “wrong”. In fact, we invite Him to do so (Psalm 139:23-24). And we wait for His reply. This can be quite a wrestling process, as He often points out things we had no idea were wrong. It’s okay to disagree with Him initially. Be honest with Him, and keep asking Him for understanding, for His perspective to become yours.
Once we agree with Him that a particular issue is indeed wrong, we repent. Even if we don’t feel very sorry, we acknowledge our wrongdoing. We ask for His forgiveness, and He gladly grants it.
Then we ask Him to correct that wrong thought or enable us by His power to no longer act in that incorrect manner. We feed our minds and our souls truth about who God is (found in scripture) to dispel wrong beliefs that are at the root of our wrong thinking and wrongdoing. We ask God to take away our desire to think or do this wrong thing and to give us new desires – His desires (Psalm 37:4).
Sometimes we must repeat the last 2 steps over and over again for months, maybe even years, on end. That’s ok. The important thing is that we have not gotten off the operating table and left the hospital all together. Like a skilled surgeon, He is slowly, tenderly, cutting our healthy tissue away from our dead, infected tissue. And no matter how long the process takes or how much it hurts, we choose to trust His hand. Don’t worry, He’s done this before.
Eventually, God completely detaches the dead tissue within us and removes it. The old hasn’t just passed away – it is gone (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
The death that was once a part of us no longer threatens our lives. We are free.
Congratulations, the removal of your spiritual gangrene is complete… for that one particular issue…
Take a little time to recover, then get back on the table.