“Lifetime Guarantee” by Bill Gillham

Bill_GillhamLifetime Guarantee is a book full of stories about ordinary life, like making eggs for breakfast, mowing the lawn, and sitting in your car outside the post office watching a pretty girl walk past. There’s also a riveting story about closing a closet door. That might sound dull if you’re Indiana Jones, but Bill Gillham’s book was written for the majority of us living ordinary lives. We commute, we pay the bills, we cook, feed the kids, and wash-up. If this sounds a bit like your life and you want to know what living under grace means for you, this is the book to read.

Many Christians struggle to live the Christian life. They want to do the right thing; they try to do the right thing; yet they often fail to do what they want to do. When the frustration builds they snap and do things they later regret. They have no idea how to fix this sad state of affairs beyond trying harder next time. But no matter how hard they try, they will fail again. Why? Because the Christian life, according to Bill Gillham, is not difficult to live – it’s impossible to live! Only one Person has lived the Christian life perfectly and it wasn’t you. But the good news is that He lives in you and He is your victory in all those areas where you’re failing.

For years we Christians have been told there’s a civil war going on inside – the bad me versus the good me, the sinful nature versus the new nature. This is simply not true according to the Bible. You had a sinful nature but it’s gone:

“In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ…” (Col 2:11)

If you still had a sin nature, you wouldn’t be distressed when you sin. But you are. You do the thing you don’t want to do and it makes you miserable. This regret is actually an encouraging sign for it’s one proof of your new Christ-like nature. It’s not your old man come back from the dead that’s making you miserable; it’s sin. Don’t identify with it. It’s not you. “It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” (Rm 7:17). Recall that when Paul writes about sin in Romans 5-8, he’s describing sin as a noun, not a verb. Think of sin as an enemy agent “crouching at your door desiring to have you” (Gen 4:7).

Some people will tell you that we’re in a battle with ourselves. But the Bible says my old man has been crucified with Christ and I am a new creation. Now I’m collaborating with the Holy Spirit in a fight against sin. As Gillham says, “It’s God and me against him.”

However, this is a fight that we will lose whenever we engage with our flesh. You’re born of the Spirit but you can still walk after the flesh. What is “the flesh”? It’s a way of living that says, “I can get my needs met outside of Christ.” In a word, it’s independence. It’s a mindset that says, “I can do it, I can fix things, I can make it happen.” Plenty of Christians are living exactly like this. Their motives are sincere – they’re trying to do the right thing – but they’re stuck in Romans 7. “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” The problem is I’m the one trying to do what I can’t do. So many think this is cycle of trying and failing and rededicating your life to God and resolving to do better next time is normal but it’s not. It’s abnormal. It’s carnal Christianity dressed up with the respectable rags of religion.

Are you trying or trusting?

To summarize, many Christians are skewered on two problems; (1) they think they’re in a ceaseless conflict with their old selves (even though the Bible says that our old self has been crucified with Christ – Rms 6:6), and (2) they’re fighting with carnal weapons of will-power and resolve. You could not find a better example of walking after the flesh than this!

Let me give you an example of how this plays out in everyday life from Gillham’s book. Put yourself in that car outside the post office with the pretty girl walking past. What do you do? If you’re a red-blooded male with macho flesh, you’re going to be tempted to seduce that woman to bolster your need to feel manly. That’s temptation but it’s not what you actually desire. You’re happily married and you want to stay that way! Plus, as a Christian you have a desire to live holy. So your desire and the temptation in front of you are at odds with each other. All clear so far?

But notice how that temptation is received in your mind. Sin will speak to you using words like “I” and “me” to deceive you into thinking that his thoughts are your thoughts. Sin will say, Man, oh man, she’s hot and I’d like to get close to her. It sounds like your idea but it’s not. It is sin’s idea. The idea originated with sin, not you. Now if you respond with your flesh and you have weak flesh, then you’re going to feel powerless. You might find yourself doing the very thing you don’t want to do and you’ll end up wretched and miserable. Conversely, if you respond with your flesh and you have strong flesh, you’re going to resist the temptation and feel real good about yourself for doing so. Do you see the problem? Weak flesh will lead to guilt and condemnation; strong flesh will lead to religious pride. Either way, you lose.

flesh_tripWe have this idea that if we do the wrong thing, we’ve sinned, but if we do the right thing, we’ve beaten sin. But sin doesn’t care what you do; sin just wants you to engage with your flesh. Sin wants you to lean on your own understanding and trust in your own resources instead of His. Adam ate the fruit because he thought it was good (Gen 3:6). He thought he was doing a good thing, but it was a carnal act that led to spiritual, and eventually physical, death.

So how do we respond to temptation? Victory is found in appropriating your true identity in Christ. When sin makes his suggestion, you respond like this. “No! I’m dead to that. That is not my thought. It’s true that I have sexual needs, but I trust you Lord to take care of that for me. That’s your problem, not mine.” Do you see what we just did? We refused to take ownership of an idea that originated from sin and we refused to tackle the problem in our own strength.

You’re dead to sin, so act like it

Since sin is always looking to get a reaction out of you, the best reaction is to play dead. Here’s Gillham:

“How does a dead man response when you try to stimulate him? He doesn’t! He just sits there!… This is a faith (belief) position taken by the mind and will. God said that I am dead to sin but alive to God in Christ (see Romans 6:11-13), so I will choose to act as if I’m dead to sin by acting as though Christ is living through me in this situation… ‘Gee, Lord, those are interesting bricks on the post office. I wonder how many there are under each window? Yes, there are seven. Isn’t that interesting.’” (p.109)

Now you may be wondering, isn’t this a little hypocritical, to act contrary to how I feel? Isn’t this dishonest? Well that depends on your definition of hypocrisy. Here’s Gillham again:

God’s definition of a hypocrite: Pretending to be what you are not.
Satan’s definition of a hypocrite: Acting contrary to how you feel. (p.135)

Satan will always try to get you to act on the basis of your flesh – your emotions, your feelings, your own understanding of things. He will try to tell you that what you feel is real. He would have you believe that if you act contrary to what you feel is right, you’re being dishonest and hypocritical. But this is pure flesh! We don’t determine truth by what we feel but by what God says. And He says you’re a new creation, holy and blameless. He says Christ is in you and you’re in Him. So when you act dead to sin and alive to Christ, you’re not pretending at all. You may feel like a phony, but you’re actually starting to walk by faith in your true identity:

“Now, what if you would simply act (by faith) as if Christ were expressing His life through your personality and earthsuit to bypass the flesh and speak loving, encouraging, tender words to your wife and children. What if you act (by faith) as if Christ were using your arms to reach out in love by giving them a hug or pat on the back? You would be acting as if Christ actually were your life. You would be acting like something is true that is true, wouldn’t you?” (p.136)

“Believing in Jesus” is not merely an intellectual acknowledgement of His Lordship. It is our daily occupation. It is living as if He will supply all of our needs because He said He would. It means we stop playing the angles. We stop looking to make things happen. We stop keeping score. And we begin to believe and act as though we are safe with Him because it’s true. As Gillham says, peace is not a feeling but a knowing –

“- knowing that the Father has everything under control; that you are in Christ, seated in heaven, resting; and that He is in you now, living.” (p.172-3)

There are plenty of books out there that tell you what living under grace means, but Lifetime Guarantee teaches you how to do it. This book, which I suspect has spawned countless grace ministries, is one of the best books you’ll ever read on how to make the Christian life work.
___
Related posts:
- How to walk after the flesh in 20 easy lessons
- What happens to unfruitful branches?
- see all E2R’s book reviews here

Comments

  1. Identity stuff: http://www.iamaspirit.org/archives/1481
    Dead to sin stuff: http://www.iamaspirit.org/archives/1694

    I didn’t know Billy Graham taught this stuff too.

  2. Brandon says:

    Paul, this is an excellent summary of the Romans 7 and Romans 8 contrast and what it means for us. It brings balance to the seeming contradiction of liberty versus right living. This very subject is what stood in my way of intimacy with Christ for a long time. I was unable to connect the dots, so God allowed me to go through experiences that opened my eyes to these truths. It helped me to grasp exactly what is meant by the Holy Spirit being our teacher. Thanks for sharing.

    • That’s it Brandon – live by the flesh and you can’t win. Whatever you choose will ultimately minister death – even if you choose what seems good and right. By live by the spirit and you can’t lose. In a place of total trust you live permanently in a win-win situation. I plan to write more about this over the coming weeks.

      • Brandon says:

        Looking forward to it. :) I think lack of understanding on this topic is the biggest obstacle most Christians face in going deeper with Jesus. The enemy doesn’t want these truths exposed because there is freedom from bondage to be found within them. It is life changing, both liberating and humbling all at the same time.

  3. I give this article 10/10. These are the truths that will help the Bride make herself ready for Christ.
    It is so simple to walk in holiness through grace.

  4. I read Bill Gillham’s book over 10 years ago, and I just couldn’t “get” the idea of walking by the Spirit and not the flesh. But as I read your post/review, I felt like I “got” it, by God’s speaking to my heart these wonderful truth – it finally clicked for me spiritually. This fight is not mine but His! I resist the devil by simply standing in faith in Christ that He is really living in me, taking care of things.

    And the part about the feelings seeming so real – that is my experience so often! Yet the feelings are put there by the enemy and aren’t representative of my true self, which is a new creation in Christ.

    It’s wonderful to start understanding this whole way of living in the Spirit better!

    Thank you for sharing!
    Sparrow

    • Sparrow, thanks for writing. I know exactly what you mean. I don’t ever want to suggest that feelings are of the devil – they’re a gift from God! But the fleshly realm is where the devil best operates and he’s been playing this game for a long time! But our God is infinitely greater and our spirits are one with His. When we walk with the spirit (by faith, rather than sight) we thrive, have His joy and even His life in our mortal bodies (see 2 Co 4:11).

  5. That’s an excellent book indeed! I am going thru it as I write this. One word of warning – there are a few places, especially in the last 2 chapters, where Bill expounds on the problem of evil and how satan is used by God to perfect us until he (God) needs satan no more, and so forth. That’s totally off base since it makes God the culprit for all the evil stuff, and evil becomes a hidden good. Don’t fall for that! A proper way to look at it is that if satan attacks you, you can use your faith, specifically in the areas developed through techniques presented in this book – and each time you successfully resist evil you become better at it. So what satan meant for evil we can use for good. Just wanted to warn the folks here so that you can make a proper mental adjustment. Again, the rest of the material in the book (95% of it) is very, very good, and very practical.

    • “a guy”, I agree with your assessment. God doesn’t “need” Satan for anything. Adam and Eve surrendered some of their God-given dominion over the Earth to Satan when deceived by Satan. They chose to believe the serpent over what God had said. It wasn’t an issue of “disobedience” so much as it was an issue of unbelief. Part of the finished work of the cross is retrieving for us the dominion which was surrendered. I know plenty of people who learn just fine from the mistakes of others. However, if we make a choice to entertain fleshly desires, God is a gentleman and respects our right that He gave us to make our own choices, but He may take that opportunity as a chance for an object lesson. God isn’t using Satan to perfect us, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t opportunistic in the meantime. :)

  6. Hey, did anyone find this book to be a little bit sexist in the roles of men and women? (Im only on the 4th chapter so I’m talking about in the 2nd and 3rd chapters). I’m really struggling with this because I want to read it and receive the truth, as i think its message is really powerful, but I don’t think that men and women always have to fit into those categories of women being emotional housewives whilst the men are macho logical handymen who have to be the best at sports etc. otherwise they grow up with low self-esteem. For me, this disregards the emotions of young girls. I don’t think men acting differently to the stereotypical mould, such as not being a macho decision maker, is them being fleshly, but I think it is more to do with their personality. I am just wondering what other people think to this because I absolutely love the message of the book, I just felt hurt by these generalisations. Did anyone else?

    I’m not trying to insult the book by the way. I am finding it powerful and wise! :)

    • I’m not offended or upset by that sort of thing but I know that many people are. I am in a class and recently when we say The 23rd Psalms together, 2 of the people that are offended by wording that they don';t think is politically correct are changing “he” to “God” and “she”. . The person that chooses to say “God” always raises her voice at those points.
      I’m sure these 2 people would be just as bothered as you are. Does that in any way seem silly to you?

      You say “i think its message is really powerful” “I absolutely love the message of the book” SO ENJOY!

    • Paige, out of the 60 or so books listed on my review page, there is only one that I agree with 100%. (Can you guess which one?)

      Every author has blind spots. Every author is a product of a unique heritage and upbringing. Every author sees things slightly differently. Consequently, in the 60 books I’ve reviewed, you will find some that teach tithing and others that don’t (meaning, they don’t agree). There are some that teach eternal security while others don’t. If I only reviewed books I agreed with 100%, I’d probably make no recommendations!

      But to the pure all things are pure. What I can say about the books on my list is they generally do an outstanding job of preaching grace and shooting down carnal, religious death-traps. And one thing you need to know about Bill Gilham is that he was writing about grace before some of us were born. Many grace authors have been directly influenced by him, including myself.

  7. “Since sin is always looking to get a reaction out of you, the best reaction is to play dead.”

    I am learning so much from your blogs! I have a comment/question about the above quotation. I will play dead to sin and, like you mentioned in the above post, I do often feel hypocritical. Sometimes the thoughts are so persistent though that I just can’t take it anymore and I feel the need to talk to someone about them. I know the Bible says we should confess our sins to each other. But if we confess, are we playing dead to them? I feel like I am faking it so much. My husband says that we should never name our thoughts/sins out loud because that gives leverage to the enemy. But, if I never spoke to anyone about my sins, I feel like I would go crazy trying to keep it all in. Plus, I feel like that behavior just encourages “playing religion” where everyone puts on a mask and nobody is ever authentic. What should I do in this case? Continuing playing dead? Does it get easier?

    • Laura, I am a big believer in bringing things into the light. Just as most germs are killed by sunlight, most temptations die when brought into the open.

      As for giving the enemy leverage, that was something Job worried about. He said, “That which I feared has come upon me” (or something like that). I’ve heard people say Job must’ve spoken about his fears and given the enemy ideas. I don’t think the enemy is short of ideas! He’s had a lot of practice tempting people. Job was afraid of losing kids. What parent doesn’t think about that?

      Reckoning yourself dead to sin doesn’t mean pretending all is well when all is not well. It certainly doesn’t rule out being open and honest. I’m going to be open and honest right here and tell you that there have been times when I have managed to resist a sexual temptation without telling anyone, and there have been times when the battle has been so big that freedom has not come until after I’ve shared it with my wife or a trusted brother. So yes, I agree with James. I’m a big believer in healthy confession.

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