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I have never been able to pray Psalm 35 against any human being. However, I have frequently used it to pray about three enemies that we all face: the world’s system, the way that we personally resist God’s work in our lives, and the devil.
Yesterday, we caught a glimpse of how the devil is active in our lives and the schemes he uses to kill, steal and destroy us. We also had some examples of how we can use the words of Psalm 35 to ask God to protect us from demons and the devil.
Today, we will consider the part that we play in what is basically self-destruction.
The Bible is very honest about the failures of its heroes. The founding fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all had personal and moral failings that had one thing in common. They acted out of self-interest and self-will without seeking God’s direction.
The history of Israel’s leaders such as Samson, Saul, David, and Solomon is filled with examples of tragic decisions that were made separate from God’s guidance. The result was pain and grief for the nation.
Isaiah lived in a turbulent time, when the nation’s leaders refused to follow God’s leadership. Instead, they pursued their own self-interest. As a result, the nation had to experience God’s corrective judgment.
God counseled Isaiah to not follow the crowd or his own self-will. God said, “Do not join in the schemes of the people and do not be afraid of the things that they fear. Remember that I, the Lord Almighty, am holy; I am the one you must fear” (Isaiah 8.12-13).
In short, God warned Isaiah to align his life with God’s will and to not live out of self-will.
Paul on Self-Destruction
The Apostle Paul wrote more about our tendency to live apart from God than any other New Testament author. He said, “For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do” (Galatians 5.7).
What Paul calls “human nature” or the “flesh” is what I have been trying to describe with the words “self-will” or “self-destruction.” Our self-will chooses to live apart from God’s direction and the result is drama, trouble, conflict, pain, and grief.
Paul describes the effect of self-will apart from God’s guidance like this: “What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft.
He continues, “People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these” (Galatians 5.19-21).
There is a Better Way.
Paul presents an alternative to living according to self-will and self-destruction. By God’s grace, we can live in a relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will produce in us a different kind of life.
Paul writes, “The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.” (Galatians 5.22-23)
A comparison between the effect of self-will and the work of the Spirit is quite dramatic. How can we have the power to be free from the obsession to rule our own lives? How can we live in a cooperative relationship with the Holy Spirit?
The answer is to pray and to ask God’s help.
Using Psalm 35 to Pray for Victory
I believe my biggest enemy is my own self-will. I am aware of demonic forces and the world’s system, but I maintain that my own profound desire for life on my own terms is the biggest enemy I face.
Below are some suggested verses from Psalm 35 and suggested prayers for victory over self-will. I hope they will help your effort to be free from self-will and open to the direction of the Holy Spirit
Verse 11 – Evil people testify against me
and accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
God, I am often my greatest accuser. I think of myself as stupid, worthless, and undesirable at times. Please draw me into the life of your Spirit, so I can see myself the way you see me.
Verse 13-15 – But when they were sick, I dressed in mourning;
I deprived myself of food;
I prayed with my head bowed low,
as I would pray for a friend or a brother.
But when I was in trouble, they were all glad
and gathered around to make fun of me;
strangers beat me . . .
God, I have given my very best to my own self-will. In return for serving myself, I get trouble, problems, difficulties, and pain. It is like my own self mocks my self-will. Please deliver me from the obsession to always have it my way. May your good Spirit rule my life.
Verse 17 – How much longer, Lord, will you just look on?
Rescue me from their attacks;
save my life from these lions!
God, please rescue me from myself. My own self-will is out to tear me to pieces, both inside and out. Please save me by helping me surrender to your direction and guidance for life.
Praise for Victory
Faith gives God praise for the victory, whether it has arrived or not. We can be confident that God will answer these prayers to have victory over our own self-will. He deeply desires to give us his Spirit to rule and to bless our lives.
We can pray verse 18 in full confidence and joy.
Verse 18 – Then I will thank you in the assembly of your people;
I will praise you before them all.
May We Pray for You
Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team who is honored to pray for you. Please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the prayer team to pray, too.