We must never want to return to our old life. It is important for us to not want to return to our former way of living, after we have been “Born Again.” John 5:1-14 says, “After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ” Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Notice what Jesus says in verse fourteen, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Jesus found the man who had just been made well of his infirmities of thirty-eight years and He says to the man, “Don’t go back to your sinful life anymore.” We all know that our sins have consequences, we must break free from our old habits and we have to stay away from things that will cause us to sin again. We must never want to return to our old life. The old ways will call us to come back, but we need to cast down those thoughts and put them under the blood of Jesus Christ. The devil will try to tempt us into going back. He will try to give the alcoholic just one drink, or the drug addict, one more taste of marijuana. He will try to get you to go into your old stomping grounds one more time. He does this in order for us to shut down our faith in Jesus. He wants to make us think that we are not “Born Again.” He wants us to think that we cannot change. When we return to our “Old Ways,” the Bible compares us to a dog returning to it’s own vomit (See Proverbs 26:11). We have all done this, none of us can say we have not, we have asked God to deliver us from something and without thinking about it, we go right back into it, because it has called to us. I was like that for years, I cried out to God many a night saying, “Please deliver me from my addiction to cigarettes, God, please deliverer me?” I would pray for it, I would ask people to pray for me, I would get delivered or I thought I was, then the stress and the withdraws would come and I would pick it up again. Not only did I fall back into the trap, but I was smoking more than before and I was trying to hide it from the church people I associated with, which made it even worse. I knew that God would deliver me, because the Bible told me that He would, but first I had to be willing to give it to Him. I struggled with this addiction for years, trying to hide it from loved ones, and people I knew, but I knew that I was not hiding it. Years passed, and I smoked from age fourteen through forty-four. All the time, trying to give it to Jesus, but taking back each time. I finally gave up my cigarettes while I was working patrol in Goldsboro, North Carolina. I had just finished an orange soda when I heard a loud ringing in my head, I realized I was in trouble, I got very sick and fell out of my cruiser throwing up. I tried to talk on the microphone to summon help from my fellow officers, but could not speak. I prayed because that is all that I knew to do. My sergeant, Ken Edwards found me and got help to me. I was taken to the hospital, and the doctors said I will never be able to be a police officer again, because of having a stroke. I prayed even more, my paralyzed state was restored to health in just days and I have never smoked cigarettes after that experience. I have been cigarette free for over twenty-two years. Praise God! It doesn’t bother me when people smoke around me, I have no desire for them anymore. I call this a miracle, because He delivered me completely and He healed me of the stroke.
We must never return to our old lives! We must instead go forward and not backwards. What does the Bible say? Turn to Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” If we do not let go of our old lives, it will challenge us in our new lives.
Don’t allow the devil to remind you of all the times that you have failed. He will remind you and you know this to be true, because he is good at accusing you. He will bring back to your memory of every failure that you ever made. Isn’t it so like him? He reminds of our shortcomings, but have you ever noticed he never tells you of the good you have done? Why? He can’t tell you of the good things, because that is not in his nature. He only knows the wrong you have have done. He will try time and again to tell you that you are not saved, you are not born again, you are not redeemed. He will tell you that you are not forgiven. As long as you allow the devil to remind you of your downfalls, then it will be harder for you to resist the old ways. What can you do? You must walk forward with your head held up high because you are the righteousness of God and let Jesus go ahead of you, shove the devil to the side and as you walk past him, his voice will become harder to hear and you will hear Jesus so much clearer.
Look at this in the book of Luke Chapter nine verse sixty-two, “But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Yes the devil is going to attack you in your mind, this is where the battle goes on. He will bring the thoughts of what the old life was like. We all have a past life, but we have to remember what Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart so is he….” If we think that we are the way we were, then we will live that way. If we believe we have a new life redeemed from sin, changed by the Lord Jesus Christ, then that is the way we will be. The most powerful thing that we can do is to renew our minds and take on the mind of Christ. We must flood our minds with the Word of God. Renewing the mind, makes us think good thoughts about ourselves as God sees us. We must think on things that build us up in faith, not tear us down. Sure it is easier to go back to the old ways, beecause it is something that we are accustomed to. It is harder to go forward because it is a challenge to us. The easy way may seem better to us, but in the long run it will be our destruction. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Turn to Matthew 7:13, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Our life as Christians was never intended to be easy. In our old life, we had it easy and it may have been filled with being fast paced living, but remember the verse that we just read, the road to hell is through a wide gate and a broad way. Jesus tells us to enter through the narrow gate. Read verse fourteen, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Lte us look at this verse through the Message Bible, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.” Satan does not want us to reach our place of destiny. This is the place of our “Anointing.” This is the place of our “Healing.” It is the place that our desires are let loose. We could not see it before, because we were blind to it, but when we reached it, everything seems just right. Paul said, that he had to press in for the mark, he had to keep pressing in to establish his destiny. He had to press into receiving the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14). Look at these verses in the Message Bible, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
“I am off running and I am not turning back.” Those are words that we need to live by. The devil wants you to believe that where you are at, is where you will stay for all your life. He says, that you are stuck in this life forever. He tells you that you can never change. But God says different! God says that you can change and all you have to do is “Press Forward.”
Did you know that Jesus had to do this as well? After He had the last supper with His disciples, He went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray because He was in great anguish. He prayed three times, for His Father to take this cup of wrath from Him. At the end of the third prayer time look what He does, turn to Matthew 26:46, “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” Jesus got up and He tells His disciples to get up. Jesus pressed into His Father and then He went forward. This is how we should be, “Pressing In” so that we can keep moving forward.
Paul said, that he was “Pressing in for the high calling.” We all have this “High Calling” in our lives. We all have a purpose in life. The very reason He has put us on the earth is for His glory. Sometimes we cannot be satisfied with where we are at in the moment, because we know that this “High Calling” is bigger than we are. it is uncomfortable to us to remain where we are spiritually, because we know deep inside of our being that God has so much more for us. We must “Press In,” now more than ever, because God wants to make available to us the prize that He has for us. He wans us to come to Him and receive the blessing that He has made specifically for us. We must “Press In,” no matter what the cost. This is the only way to break through the barriers that are keeping us away from our destiny. Press into the Father! Press into the Father’s glory! Press through the veil that is between you and God and come into the Holy of Holies where His presence is.
Turn to John 5:14 again, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Why am I bringing this up to you? Jesus is telling us that we need to change from our old lifestyle so that we can maintain our healing. If we go back towards the old life, then what benefit would our healing have? if we are delivered from alcoholism and we go back to our old habits of drinking again, then our deliverance has no meaning. Why? It is because the damage it will do will be so much more than the first time. I have worked with drug addicts and alcoholics in my job as a probation officer. Each time I counseled with them, I would hear the same answer to why they returned to their drugs or alcohol, “I thought I could handle just one more drink with the guys or I didn’t think that one hit of the blunt would effect me.” These people would share with me that they were spiraling back out of control because they took that one drink or that one hit off the blunt. They would say, that it was different this time, this time it hurt so much more. Why? It was because this time they were in recovery and this time they knew who Jesus was. I believe, that this is why Jesus said to the man at the Pool of Bethesda, “You have been made well, sin no more, so that you won’t have worse come upon you.”
You know, we take a lot for granted. We receive our healing, which we say id do to our faith, but the first thing that we do is that we think of our old life. The thing that we do not know is that our faith is what keeps our healing. The people I have ministered to and the people I have prayed with for their healing and their deliverance needed to know one important thing, that their healing and deliverance came by and through their faith in Jesus Christ and in order to maintain it, we must continue to believe. They have to turn from their old ways and walk forward in their new lives.
Notice one thing about the man that Jesus healed at the Pool of Bethesda, he must have led a very sinful life. When Jesus met him, He only asked him if he wanted to be made well. Jesus never once confronted him about his sin, until after he saw him healed and in the temple. Why then do we always go to God after we try to clean ourselves up? Why do we shy away from from Jesus when we are sinful? We do it because we have been taught that in order to get anything from God, we have to change our lifestyle first. No other religion in the world can present a god that takes us just as we are. Jesus never turned a sinner away! Amazing at this is, Jesus came to the Pool of Bethesda to find this man. Just like He comes looking for us. Why didn’t He heal all the people at the pool? That is something that I will have to ask Him when I see Him. Jesus healed the man first, then He later confronts him about his sin. There are consequences for our sin, but it will not stop a miracle. Jesus told the man, ‘Sin no more.” He tells us the same thing, and He says, “Don’t remember the past!” It can be dangerous for us to remember our past life. Praise God that Jesus has brought us through to this point in life, where we can keep going forward and see the grace of God unfold before our very eyes. Jesus never brought up the subject of sin with this man, until after He had healed him. He healed the man then He confronts the sin. This was done to show us that we do not have to be holy to receive grace. We cannot earn our healing through our own works.
There are many people in the world today who think that they need to become right before God first then He will heal them. This is so far from the truth. The man at the Pool of Bethesda did not get his healing because he made himself righteous first, he received his healing because he believed in Jesus. We are healed because we believe in Jesus. We are delivered because we believe in Jesus. We prosper because we believe in Jesus. sadly though, there are still some people who don’t receive anything, because they believe that they have to make things right first. They believe that they must become holy first. They believe that is the only way God will hear their prayer. They want to dress things up first, then if it is God’s will they will get what they ask for. In reality, all that they have to do is believe in Jesus and they will have what they ask for.
Does our righteous acts make us acceptable for healing? Does our being good give us our healing? No, only believing in Jesus gives us our healing. Being sinless is not pre-requisite for our healing. This was proved in the Scriptures that we just read. I am in no way codoning sin in anyway. I just want you to understand, that sin doesn’t prevent us from receiving a healing. People, good church going people will tell you that the reason someone is not receiving their healing is because they have sin in their lives. But from these Scriptures we know that this is not true. It isn’t that these good people are intending to hurt others, it is the way they have been taught, Religion teaches this, but from what we have just read we know that this in is not true. A person who needs healing does not have to be without sin, all that they have to do is believe in Jesus and His finished works.
Why did Jesus confront the man about his sin after he healed him? He did it so that the man would allow his life to change. If we continue sinning after we have received our healing, then our healing may stop. In order for us to maintain our healing, we have to change our lifestyle and not look back where we came from, but “Press Into Jesus.”
How are we changed? There are four things that we must do. First, we must stop doing the things we did before. Stay away from where we used to hang out, and stay away from those who cause us to sin. This leads us into the second thing that we must do, change our relationships. Find people who are there to lift us up not bring us down. The third area we must concentrate on is find a strong Bible believing church, where the Word of God is taught so that we can grow and mature in Christ. The last things that we must do is to change the way that we think, because it will change how we live. What we expose ourselves to develops how we think. If we renew our minds with God’s Word, we will change what we do. We will change our relationships. We will change how we think and we will walk closer to God.