Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: You ever feel that way? I know I do. Why do I keep on sinning when I know I don’t want to? When I know not to? When I don’t want to? Why do I do it?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, June 23. God’s people have sometimes had to pick up swords and literally fight enemies. We read those stories in the Old Testament. We live in a different time and we’re not being called to strap on a sword today, but doesn’t life still feel like a battle sometimes? Nancy will help you find the courage to face it as she continues in a series called Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time.

Nancy: Well the tables are in the process of turning and, oh, how quickly now that God is bringing to fruition His plan for the Jewish people. But we haven’t come to the end of the story yet. Haman has been hanged. The wicked man is out of the palace. God’s servant, Mordecai, is now in the palace, but the edict still exists. Nine months from now the Jews are going to be exterminated if there isn’t some intervention.

So Esther has gone yet again to the king. She has interceded before him on behalf of her people and she has asked him to revoke the edict that wicked Haman had put into place that would spell the annihilation of the Jews. The edict is still in place. Esther has said would you please revoke the edict.

Now in chapter 8, verse 7, we have the king’s response.

Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”

Now what does all that mean? The original edict, the original law spelling out the doom of the Jews could not be revoked because it was a law of the Medes and the Persians and those laws could not be rescinded, not even the king could revoke the original decree. So he’s caught here. He doesn’t want the Jewish people to be condemned. What does he do?

Instead of revoking the law, which he can’t do, he gives Mordecai and Esther the freedom to issue a new edict, a counter-edict, that will override the original decree so that the Jews can defend themselves. He gives to Mordecai his signet ring and his name. Now Mordecai has the power and the authority of the king’s name, which is the only way we can approach our King—in the power and in the authority of the name of Jesus.

So, verse 9, “The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day.” Now this is about 70 days after Haman’s original edict. It has taken just a little over two months for the wheels of justice to turn—God’s wheels of justice—to get Haman out of the way. We still have nine months until “D” day—until the day that the edict is to take effect.

An edict was written according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring.

Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal stud, saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar” (verses 9-12).

The very day, the very month that the original edict is to take place, now there is a second edict under which the Jews are given the right on that very day to assemble and to defend themselves, to plunder their attackers, although as we’ll see, they did defend themselves, but they did not plunder their attackers. There’s a new law that allows them to unite to defend their lives, their families, and their possessions.

A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies (verse 13).

Now note that the victory of the Jews over their enemies was not to be won by fiat. There was no decree that could just revoke the original edict. Rather, they would have to take up arms. They would have to defend themselves. They would have to wage war against their opponents.

God could have supernaturally intervened and let them triumph without a fight as God did at other times in Israel’s history. But keep in mind why the Jews were in Persia in the first place. They were being disciplined by God for their idolatry and their waywardness. I think it’s possible that this conflict that was required may have been a part of God’s chastening process in the lives of His people. A way of turning their hearts toward God and making them conscious of their need for Him.

Now in this account I think we see an Old Testament type of a powerful New Testament principle that we need to understand as believers. I want to take some time today to just explain that as best I can. Haman is dead. He’s been impaled on the gallows. He’s out of the way. But there’s still a battle ahead. The Jews are going to have to fight for their freedom. They’re going to have to wage war against their attackers.

Does that not sound to you something like the battle between the flesh and the spirit that we have to engage in as Christians? The old man—that old nature that had to sin, that Haman in us—has been crucified. That old man has been crucified with Christ, but we still have to deal with indwelling sin.

You say, “Why do I have to fight such battles inside? If I’m a child of God, why do I struggle with lack of self-control, with self-indulgence, with my tongue, with my temper?” Because you’re still in this flesh and there’s this residue of sin that wants to take over in your life. From now until the time you see Christ, you will have to do battle. I will have to do battle against our flesh.

So what do we do in that battle? Are we hopeless? Are we helpless? No. The book of Romans tells us about two laws that come into place in our spiritual life. The first is what the apostle Paul calls the law of sin and death. This is like unto Haman’s first edict. It’s an edict that condemns every man, woman and child ever born to death. The wages of sin is death. The soul that sins it shall die. The law of sin and death. This is the law that keeps you defeated in sinful habits, wrong relationships, morally, in relation to your tongue.

Paul describes this battle against the law of sin and death in Romans chapter 7. Let me read to you selected verses from that passage. The apostle Paul says,

I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Do you identify with that? I know I do.

Now if I do what I do not want, [Paul says] it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand (Romans 7:19-21).

Do you recognize that law? It’s the law of sin and death.

He goes on to say,

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being. [That’s a sign that you’re a child of God, that you want to obey God’s law. You don’t want to obey the law of sin and death. There’s a battle. That’s a sign you’re a believer.] But I see in my members [inside of me] another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. [That old edict is still in effect.] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:22-24).

Do you ever feel that way? I know I do. Why do I keep on sinning when I know I don’t want to? When I know not to? When I don’t want to? Why do I do it? Who will deliver me from this?

That old law—the law of sin—is binding and it cannot be rescinded. But—praise God, glory hallelujah, thank God for Jesus, thank God for the gospel—that old edict has been overcome by a higher, more powerful law. Through the death and resurrection of Christ God put another law into effect. What is the new edict? It’s called the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

That’s what Paul says beginning in Romans 7:25. Who shall deliver me from this body of death, this law of death, this law of sin?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Mordecai’s in the palace now. Christ is in the palace now. He’s been exalted He is my hope. He has issued a new edict that gives me the ability to overcome the law of sin.

He goes on to say in chapter 8, verse 1,

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Yes, that old edict is in effect, but no, it does not have to rule your life. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death.

Think about how the law of aerodynamics overcomes the law of gravity. It doesn’t break the law of gravity. The law of gravity is still in effect. But the law of aerodynamics overcomes the law of gravity and allows a great big, super jumbo jet to take off and soar in the air. That’s how the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus works in our lives, overcoming the pull, the gravity, the law of sin and death.

So this new law put into effect in Christ—the law of the Spirit of Life—overrules the law of sin and death. It gives us hope that we don’t have to stay defeated. It gives us power to overcome sin’s strongholds in our lives. It gives us the means to experience victory over sin and that’s something worth celebrating. The old edict is still in effect, but there’s a new edict that gives us the power to overcome the old one.

Now in the next session we’re going to see why the Jews responded as they did once they heard the news of the new decree. It meant that they were no longer helpless. It meant they had a way to resist their enemies. It meant their ultimate deliverance and liberation were secure even before they actually experienced it.

That’s what the law of the Spirit will do in and for you as a child of God. It means that you have the means to victory, that your deliverance is sure. You have a way to resist sin. You have a way to resist the devil. It means you’re no longer helpless. You’re free to overcome sin through Jesus Christ.

Leslie: Today’s teaching from Nancy Leigh DeMoss is so helpful for the spiritual battles you face day-to-day. Nancy will be back to explain why you can expect the battle to intensify. First, we’ll hear from women who have been with us during this series called Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time. They’re reflecting on some of the issues this series has brought up.

Woman 1: I don’t think a lot about anger in my life on a regular basis, but as a mom, as a wife, as a woman, I think I deal with anger a lot more than I realize. It was just so convicting to think about how my response of anger is a reflection of what’s going on in my heart and to immediately turn my eyes inward when I’m feeling that anger at someone else and to really process and evaluate what is God doing as opposed to what is the wickedness of my own heart that’s causing me to respond this way and to not be receptive to what God has for me.

Nancy: Anybody else relate to that? All of us probably in some way.

Woman 2: It’s just very convicting to me the whole idea that we’re in a battle between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of man and which kind of weapons I use. I find myself using the shaming, manipulation, anger, all those things to get my kids to do the things I want them to do and my husband instead of the humility and the brokenness, the prayer and submission. It was very convicting to me.

Woman 3: The thing that the Lord has been working in my life lately is pride and Haman brings out the ultimate of pride and also that sometimes when we feel things rising up within us, what is that from? The Lord has just continued to show me today as well as coming up to this pride is the bottom line. Pride is the issue. You may not see it. No one else may see it. But the Lord is convicting me in my own heart that it is pride. And that’s not fun, but it’s good to be convicted of it so I can confess it and move on and overcome it through the blood of Christ. That’s the thing.

Woman 4: It just really struck me how Esther was so young. I am afraid to talk to my non-Christian friends about God. She went to the king, and she was so brave. It’s amazing to me. And another thing is that she would trust in God so much that she would hold in her emotions that well. I don’t know that I could do that. It’s so hard for me to hold my emotions in, and she did it so well. I think that’s a really good example.

Nancy: Thanks so much.

Woman 5: I would just kind of second that comment. I was really struck with the whole study by the comparison between Ahasuerus and Haman and Mordecai and Esther, with the people who could not exercise self-control and were impulsive and just gave in to the emotion of the moment versus Mordecai and Esther operating by faith, taking the time to pray and fast.

I had to admit that most of the time I see myself more as Ahasuerus than I do as Esther. So that’s been a real conviction and a real challenge for me to really try to focus on God and not just respond to the circumstances or the heat of the moment.

Woman 6: The fact that Mordecai had been so elevated by someone else, not because of himself, and taken around with all the robe on and so forth, but at the end it says, “And he returned to the king’s gate.” His humility to just go right back to his responsibility and not to let it puff him up and him to think, “Well, I need something better than this.” That was a real challenge to evaluate ourselves—myself—and see what do I do after I have something that brings honor or attention to you. What do you do?

Woman 7: God just taught me through that to think more in response to how when I have to speak and not be silent to be more restraining and how to speak and to think through. It’s really encouraging to see how God used Esther and how he blessed her in the way she responded. So it makes me think more about praying and thinking more about what I say and when I say it.

Woman 8: A year ago I went with my church group on a short-term mission trip to Israel. I had had a lot of fear of going. But while I was over there we knew that our family and all the people were praying for us, and I felt no fear whatsoever. Well, this year I decided God really wanted me to go back again, but there has been so much happening that people have said things about me being crazy to go over there.

You hear that more things are coming up in Israel that could be more dangerous. But I feel like there are people that we have met who need our encouragement and God wants us to be encouragers for them. So it’s been hard for me to make that final decision. Yesterday I called in and made it, and I prayed that I will feel as secure and fear won’t come back in again because it does create panic if you don’t shield yourself from it.

Anyway, I really am looking forward to going, and I’m sorry I’m so emotional, but I’m looking forward to it. They’re talking about emphasizing more our working with children while we’re there. I’m a retired teacher, and I think this was one of the things that made me feel that God really wanted me there on the team this year.

Nancy: Go, Esther! [Laughter] Now let me just say, some of you haven’t been with us before and if you have, you know what I’m talking about. When you sit for a day or two as we have soaking in the Word of God, expect to be tested. Maybe before tomorrow morning and in ways that you may least expect.

We just heard from a teacher. When you want to know if your students learned what you taught them, how do you find out? You give them a test. God has been our teacher. The Holy Spirit has been speaking to us about issues of fear and faith and courage and obedience and the providence of God. How will you learn about the providence of God if you never have a chance to need to trust His providence? So expect that.

When you’re tired and you get in a day like this and we feel like we’ve been just basking in God’s goodness and then you go home and your husband has got something on TV that you cannot believe he is letting your kids watch, or you go back to work tomorrow, or you go back to school tomorrow and you find you feel like your world is falling apart, that’s when you learn to trust the providence of God.

The fact that you heartily agreed with everything I said today doesn’t mean you passed the test. You learn to live out these things in the laboratory of life. So be prepared for that. When you fail, as I have multiple times during the study of Esther. I find myself taking on Haman or Xerxes’ characteristics. When you fail, you go back to the Lord, and you go back to the truth, and you counsel your own heart, and you repent if you need to.

You thank God for being longsuffering and merciful, and you get back up and you keep going, and you take the next step in faith. So it’s a pilgrimage. It’s a process. But I just want to caution you against expecting heaven to have arrived today because it hasn’t and you haven’t and your family hasn’t.

Some of you have been here with your mom or your daughter or your sister or whatever and it’s amazing how in families these things really get tested. I mean that’s really the laboratory of life. So don’t be surprised by that. Be prepared for it. But know that God is able to keep us from falling and to pick us up when we do fall.

Leslie: Warning and encouragement from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. God has all the strength you need to face temptation. Nancy and some of our audience have been reflecting on the helpful series, Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time. Nancy’s thorough look at the life of Esther has a lot to teach you about anger, courage, and persevering during hardship. Check out Nancy’s teaching at ReviveOurHearts.com.

The transcripts and audio are available on our website. You can also use the website to order a copy of this series on Esther. We’ll send the CDs or mp3 to your door so you can play them in the car or at home. Many of the teaching segments on the CD are longer than the versions online. Again, order Esther: God’s Woman at God’s Time at ReviveOurHearts.com.

The women we heard from today sitting in our audience represent just a fraction of the women who have been challenged, convicted, strengthened and invigorated by this study of Esther. That kind of deep life-change is a worthwhile investment. Would you donate to Revive Our Hearts and help us speak to women who need to hear God’s Word and understand what it means? Make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1-800-569-5959.

Esther and her people went through low lows of great suffering. Tomorrow we’ll finally look at their high highs—authentic, God-given joy. Now let’s pray. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Thank you, Lord, for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus that sets us free from the law of sin and death. May we live in and celebrate that victory that is ours through Christ our Lord. In His name we pray, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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