John 16:17-33

Jesus is now sharing His heart with His disciples, to encourage them that He has done all He needs to do to make a way for them to walk in victory while in this world. In this small conversation alone, we are promised the amazing love of the Father, (John 16:27) complete joy (John 16:24) and perfect peace (John 16:33). Jesus is keen for us to know that we can succeed in everything to which we put our hand. (Deuteronomy 28:8)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Living in peace

God’s desire for us is that we should continually live in peace. Let's compare what it means to live in peace with what it means to be in trouble.

Peace: a state of rest, harmony, quietness, calmness, tranquillity and an absence of strife. It denotes a perfect well-being, completeness, wholeness, safety, health and prosperity. In fact, it contains the whole package of everything that we need: total freedom and liberty.

Trouble: pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress. The original word means putting a lot of pressure on something that is free and unfettered.

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Jesus is saying that if our minds are focused on Him and we think according to His word, we shall experience peace, even if our outward circumstances are horrific. Let's make a quality decision to give His word first place in our lives: “I think, I speak, I do only His word from this day on.”

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

Enemies of peace

One area that commonly robs us of peace is our own self-image.

  • We are dissatisfied with ourselves.
  • We are not happy with the way we were created.
  • We wish we were thinner or fatter, taller or shorter, darker or lighter.
  • We are self-conscious about a certain part of our body.
  • We cannot stand in front of a mirror and say that we love ourselves.

Often, we do not feel that we have control over certain areas of our life and we become preoccupied with food, eating, exercise or shopping as an answer to the problem. This is deceptive because it is a "carnal" answer to a "spiritual" problem. Defeat in this area can allow strongholds of self-hate, oppression and condemnation. If we are not at peace with ourselves, our bodies and our lives, we will experience trouble (anguish, crushing, affliction) in our minds.

Four steps to victory

Step 1. Get the substance: faith.

God can only respond to faith, not to hope or good intentions. Faith means simply believing that everything that God has said about us is true - even if everything around us tells us differently. ( Hebrews 11:1) Many of us "live in hope" when it comes to losing weight. We do not think to apply the principles in God's word to this area of our lives. Hope sometimes works but is not guaranteed by God. Faith (believing) is guaranteed to bring the desired result. To convert hope to faith, we need to meditate on and digest the relevant Bible verses, realising that God’s will for us is to lead healthy, good lives (to be our ideal size and feel good about ourselves). Mental assent does not work - it must be in our heart.

If we see ourselves as God sees us, we will experience life and peace. We will know who we are and what we have in Christ. It is possible to be victorious in many ways, but still struggle and fail in this one area because it is a very deep area; it deals with who we are as a person. Our bodies are very important to our self-esteem. “As a woman thinks in her heart, so is she.” (Proverbs 23:7)

What we do with our bodies is closely linked to how renewed our minds are in a particular area. Our minds may desperately want us to lose weight. We can fully intend to lose weight and overcome in this area but, if our view of ourselves is as we are now, that is the way we will stay. Women especially lose weight and put it on again because they do not have the right picture of themselves at heart. If we diligently see ourselves according to God’s word, that is what we will become.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies, presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy [devoted, consecrated] and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable [rational, intelligent] service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world - this age, fashioned after and adapted to it’s external, superficial customs. But be transformed [changed] by the [entire] renewal of your mind - by it's new ideals and new attitudes - so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2 Amplified version)

"Conformed" means “conforming oneself to the outer fashion or outward appearance, accommodating oneself to a model or pattern.” Do not let the world squeeze you into its mould, but let God transform you by His word. Take captive every thought and cast down every imagination that contradicts what God says about you. Imagination includes our self-image. We must pull down every stronghold in our mind that allows lies and death into our life. We do this by thinking and speaking what His word says. We must be aggressive in this, refusing to submit to negative feelings about ourselves. There is no other way to victory.

  • We are born again, by faith.
  • We live our new life, by faith.
  • We have victory over circumstances in our lives, by faith.
  • We get rid of any poor self image, by faith.
  • We love ourselves as we are now, by faith.
  • We receive peace about ourselves and refuse to accept trouble, by faith.

The devil attacks how we feel about our bodies because:

  1. He knows it can easily rob us of our joy (our strength) and pull us down.
  2. He knows that, if our minds are not renewed through God's word, he can bring us trouble (pressure, distress) about who we are and what we look like.
  3. If he can preoccupy us with thinking about our size, weight, appearance and diet, he can hinder us from growing into the people that God intends us to be, stunting our spiritual growth.
  4. He tells us that our emotional needs come from certain foods, but the truth is that we can only receive satisfaction from God.

How many of us are being hindered in our destiny because we struggle in this area of our lives?

Step 2. Get vision.

When Gideon found out who he really was, he did great things for God, Judges 6:12-13.. He was intended to be a mighty man of valour, but never realised it until God got hold of him by the scruff of the neck! We need to find out who we are and not waste any more days with a distorted view of ourselves. God wants us to feel free and unfettered about who we are as people and about our bodies. Let's take time out to seek God and agree His goals and purposes for our lives.

It can help to write an action plan. Include every concern of your life. Whatever concerns you, also concerns God, whether it be your home, children, finance, relationships, employment or lifestyle. The plan must be specific, detailed and realistic. Our aim should be to wake up every morning with a purpose: to know God and have an intimate relationship with Him. We need to know where we are heading and what we have to do today to get one step closer to our goal. We must keep it before our eyes. When we focus on God’s word for the day, it keeps us making right decisions for tomorrow. We need to see ourselves as "people with purpose", not a "person with a problem". If we have a "bad day", let's refuse to worry about it, speak about it or keep going over it in our minds. We need to keep our eyes focused on the vision and where we are going. Whatever we focus on will get bigger. The enemy will try to make our size a big issue and and an idol in our lives, diverting our decisions and thoughts elsewhere when they should be wholly in line with God and His word.

Step 3. Get wisdom and understanding.

The devil is the god of this age. (2 Corinthians 4:4) His value system is set up in the "world". Do not receive his lies! He says that, to be "real" we must look like a super model. The devil’s value system is based on external appearance. His plan is to sow in our minds thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction and self-rejection.

His ploy is to lift up an "ideal" that is unreal and unattainable. He uses the media, womens' magazines, television and, especially, advertising. He wants us to spend our time striving to reach this "ideal". This is how he manages to get a foothold and to put trouble and pressure on us. As we focus on the world’s value system, we will start to feel squeezed and pressurised into its mould. As we focus on God’s value system (His word), it changes our hearts (our inner selves) and we feel liberated and free. God created us exactly as He wanted us to be. We are unique individuals that the world has never seen before and will never see again. Before we were born, God knew us. He carefully thought about who we would be. (Psalm 139:13)

Step 4. Get knowledge.

We can use knowledge to achieve our goals. Diets and exercise programmes can be a tool to maintain the body that God has given us:

  • Aerobic exercise can change our internal body chemistry.
  • Resistance exercise can increase your metabolic rate.
  • Calorie intake reduction creates an energy deficit.

It’s important to know what our bodies need without getting obsessed with “keep fit” or dieting, because this is idolatry. At first, it may seem difficult overcoming in this area and we may have tried the world’s way of coping, but diets and striving to improve our bodies only affect the external person. God wants us to overcome through a change in our hearts and minds, through the living and powerful word of God and His powerful Holy Spirit. He wants us to accept ourselves as we are; to love ourselves and to praise Him for making us this way. Ultimately though, we have to take the victory by starting to believe what God says. He wants us to have victory by following His way – the only way that will last. We must start to believe the word of God. This is faith.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4)

"But now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy [gladness, delight] may be full and complete." (John 16:24 Amplified version)

Intimacy with God is the aim.

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