Articles by Loren Larson

Holding Out Or Holding On

Aug 2016

Genesis 32:24 “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”


In the story and life of Jacob we find, in regard to sanctification, a type of every believer’s struggle. Sanctification is impossible for the believer who is trusting in his own ability and his own power to handle every situation.

Scripturally speaking, growth and maturing in Christ is not going to happen unless the believer empties himself of self-trust and learns to depend entirely upon what God has done on his or her behalf. At Calvary, Jesus paid the price for our salvation. Faith in who He is and what He did at Calvary is sufficient for salvation. What we must all arrive at as believers is the elimination of faith in self in regard to our sanctification. As an Old Testament type, Jacob stands as a perfect picture of this struggle. We can learn great lessons by reviewing how God worked on Jacob. It’s also good to remember, no matter how long the process, God never quits.


No one was ever named more accurately than Jacob. His name described the nature of the man. He was a deceiver, a supplanter, a manipulator—a regular con man. Jacob survived by his wits, his instincts, and his powerful self-will. He did what he thought he needed to do to obtain what God had promised. The Bible tells us of a prophecy that was given as both Jacob and Esau were born. That “word” stated that the older would serve the younger! However, rather than letting God bring this to pass, Jacob pounced on the chance to purchase the birthright from Esau for food when his brother was extremely famished. A little later, Jacob and his mother deceived Isaac into blessing Jacob instead of Esau. While Isaac was being disobedient to God’s choice of Jacob, Jacob should not have intervened. He should have waited upon and trusted in God. His deception cost him 20 years away from the land God had promised him. However, the conniving nature of Jacob was plainly exhibited through these choices.


After 20 years of exile, God tells Jacob to return home. He gathers his wives and family together and sets out to return. While nearly home, Jacob sends a message to Esau that he is on the way home. Esau responds by getting together an army of 400 men and heading Jacob’s direction. Again, Jacob leans to his own understanding. Thinking that Esau’s intent is to kill him, Jacob connives again. He sends gifts of animals totaling well over $100,000 in today’s currency. Then he places the least favored family members in a position to meet Esau first. If Esau’s intention was evil, then Jacob would escape with the most favored of his family. After dividing up the family in this way, Jacob is ready to ford the Jabbok River, but is hindered from doing so by a man.


The man Jacob encountered was Christ Himself. He wrestles with Jacob. I am so glad that when going the wrong way, believing the wrong thing, or attempting something unpleasing to God, that Jesus will block my way. Jacob’s self-will and stubbornness holds out all night long as he grapples with the Lord. Finally, near daybreak, the Lord touches Jacob’s thigh, making it impossible for him to fight in his own strength any longer. If we do not submit our strength to the Lord, He might need to take our strengths away, in order to teach us to trust and depend upon Him. Jacob now holds to the Lord and won’t let Him go. Jacob sees his need for God’s help and refuses to release the Lord until God blesses him! He has moved from holding out to holding on!


So what about your life? What are you trying to change about yourself or your circumstances that only God can change? How long will you keep wrestling with God—manipulating, conniving, and deceiving—even in an attempt to do God’s will? God doesn’t need our help. If you insist on this path, He may have no choice but to cripple you. Why don’t we stop holding out and start holding on to what God has provided? Let’s move from being Jacob (the deceiver) to being Israel (prince with God). Those who trust in Him will never be ashamed!

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