I am a stubborn person. My stubbornness has caused me much pain. It's given me much victory and satisfaction as well. Of course, human nature is to function in the belief that if one can get away with something once, perhaps we can again!
This is why we get speeding tickets. Those "speed trap" towns that we know exist... We absolutely do not go so much as one mile over the speed limit there. We've learned that they are CONSISTENT in their punishment. But put us on a highway where the speed "limit" has come to be defined as "speed suggestion," and we are downright indignant if we get pulled over for a ticket! Why? Because the issuing of tickets is sparadic on highways. We do what we can get away with until we're stopped. Then we, of course, gripe and complain about the cost of the fine, the unyielding officer... Oh, the outrage!
My stubbornness has won me some good favors. Through maturity and experience I've learned to distinguish between the good and the bad uses for it. Because my endurance and tolerance levels aid my stubbornness, I usually end up the winner. But, I'm sorry to say that it has not always worked to my benefit. It has, at times worked to destroy me. I feel so indignant and cheated when I've been harmed by my self-will. I was at quite a loss for how to start over. But I've learned a secret for recovery and beginning with a clean slate. I hope my painful lessons can help others.
“But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.”
Leviticus 1:13 KJV
I've had many stretches of road on my journey with God that were outside the laws of limits. Much like my speeding on highways, because God didn't smack me down each and every time I stepped outside of covenant, I felt like my law-breaking speed was as acceptable as the actual law. In these time periods I would excuse my bad attitude, I would blow off conviction, I would get an attitude with the other drivers who were "in my way."
But a part of me would KNOW I was breaking the law of God. Even if it might have been a "lesser law." Much like our experiences speeding, we excuse the fact that we're literally breaking THE LAW, with the argument of, "At least I'm not killing somebody." But sometimes simple speeding DOES kill somebody., and so officers of the law take time where they pause their work on the more serious crimes to remind citizens that even the lesser crimes are a problem.
That part of me that knew my sin-nature was in opposition to God's law, and that I was out of sync with God's people would rein myself into the limits. I'd use my self-discipline techniques and present my body as a living sacrifice. But I discovered something in my offering that surprised me; unacceptance.
How was it that I brought myself into the confines of what God and man asked for, but I wasn't feeling that acceptance I craved?
I felt indignant! I really didn't like that I wasn't feeling approval. After all, I had brought my offering to God. Even though I didn't WANT to get in sync with God's plan, and I felt the people around me were unfair and judgemental. I STILL BROUGHT MY OFFERING! Why wasn't that enough?!
In the scripture I've included above, Leviticus 1:13, we see a step involved in sacrifice that many of us fail to do; washing the innards and the legs.
When we come to God without repentance we will feel the frustration Cain felt when his offering wasn't accepted. We're being STUBBORN. And it's not fixing anything. We want to appear before man as holy and "as good" as they are. (Ahem. NO man is good, but God. That's why we need him.) But we're still experiencing a breach. WHY?!
We've got to not only bring ourselves as a living sacrifice, but we've got to do some cleansing.
2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Cleanse YOURSELVES of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." We ask for God's forgiveness, but we have a part in the cleansing process as well.
We know when a part of our heart is stubbornly holding on to that thing we must let go of. And I'm sorry to tell you that this isn't a simple two-step process. Some stuff requires "wrestling" our spirit to rid ourselves of it. Sometimes there aren't more detailed instructions outside of the simple, "Just do it." And when we're experiencing these complicated wrestlings, we must use the same stubbornness that caused us to defy God's law, to come back into peace with God's law. Where there's a will, there's a way. Get STUBBORN about fixing it.
We most certainly will not cleanse ourselves if we're not continually putting ourselves into the waters of prayer. We must pray until the living water of the Holy Ghost comes pouring out of our inner most being.
Some heart matters require more than "a quick rinse." But stay at it, as many days or weeks as it takes. Get your inside clean.
The other part of us that must be cleaned for acceptable sacrifice is our legs. We have been with people we should not have been with. We have gone places we should never have gone. We have got to wash ourselves of the past. We've got to confess that these places and things were not pleasing to God. And we've got to cleanse the dust of our past from us. We must remove all traces of where we've been. Sometimes, in our cleansing we'll realize there was more mud than we remembered. And it may take, as with the heart, several washing to get that caked-mess out. But keep scrubbing because the fulfillment is WORTH it.
In this cleansing we will find the experience we crave of being an acceptable sacrifice. Our lives will feel useful. We will once again begin to live in the purpose we were designed for. Accepted and useful to both God and man.
I've had to learn to use my stubbornness to outlast the devil, not outlast God or his people. I've learned to use my stubbornness to rid myself of the people and places that were outside of God's perfect law of liberty. But I'm glad and thankful that I've learned to cleanse myself of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
Use your stubbornness to fulfill your acceptable sacrifice. You'll be glad you did!