I have been a Christian now for about 17 years. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. God has a funny way of humbling us and making us realize that we are not the centre of the universe, we are not what is most important. One of the greatest challenges any Christian faces is the life-long process of “denying ourselves‘ () and “walking in the Spirit” (), or in other words living our lives to please God and not primarily ourselves. We will never fully realize this until we go to be with our Lord in heaven.
Jesus said “if you love me you will obey what I command” (). It’s pretty clear. If we say we love God, we will inevitably strive to obey Him, to allow His Spirit within to refine us so that, bit-by-bit, we reflect His character. This is to glorify God’s work in our lives as well being a beacon to the hope Jesus gives to us all. What a privilege… what a blessing… what a calling on our lives!
Why then do we often struggle so much to see this in our lives? Why do we find ourselves so enticed to feed our own self-absorbed desires rather than God’s? Why do we struggle so much at times to walk with God and follow His lead in our lives?
Here are three points that I believe can help us all to follow and enjoy God more in our lives:
- We are sinful and need help… badly! No matter how good we, or others think we are, we are sinful before our holy and perfect God, going against Him by our very nature. What a fearful and sobering thought that God will judge us for our rebellion against Him. We need help if we are to be spared His judgement. The only way we can enjoy fellowship with God is trusting in the one person who was perfect, who was without sin – Jesus (). He died the death we deserve so that we may receive eternal life with God. That is the good news that God has for you and me. While we were still sinners Christ died for us so that we could be spared Gods judgment and be with Him forever. Thank you Jesus!! We need to draw on that every day so we don’t lose hope.
- We are not the catalyst for change. People may see Christianity as trying to do all we can to please God, to follow Him… that our success in the Christian life hinges on how much we do what God commands us in the bible. Although that in a sense is correct, how we approach it is critical. Our success is not based on how good we are or what sacrifices we make, but rather resting on what Jesus has done. As we trust in Jesus, God looks at us through Jesus’ sacrifice and sees a precious child of His… without blemish… without the need to justify itself. Do you believe that? No matter what struggles you may be having in life, do you believe you are a precious child of Gods through your faith in Christ? In the apostle Paul testified to the struggles he had as a man, but then squashes his despair by taking the focus off himself and declaring that thanks be given to God alone for His salvation and that there is now no condemnation in Jesus ( – 8:1). We are not the initiator or sustainer of change in our lives. God is. He changes us from within through what Jesus did for us and by the active work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The result is that we are able to stand before God without guilt, without condemnation. Truly believing that is integral to seeing our lives transformed to reflect God (, ).
- Christ alone is sufficient (, , ). Despite the blessings we receive as we become a Christian, there is still the tendency to seek satisfaction for our souls elsewhere apart from Jesus. It never ceases to amaze me at my own tendency at times to seek solace in the arms of this world instead of Christ. Why?! Simply speaking I think it is the fact that we have a sinful nature within waring at our hearts to take supremacy for itself. It can start subtly, but before we know it we are craving and hungering idols and desires of this world instead of drawing close to our Creator and Sustainer. How do we prevent this? I feel it centers on believing that Christ is fully sufficient. He is sufficient for our salvation. He is sufficient for filling our hearts with the joy, peace and satisfaction we crave. He is sufficient to enable us to be effective instruments for God to use. His Word is all that we need to discover and learn God’s will. He alone is sufficient for all that we need to live for and enjoy God.
The Christian life isn’t about trying harder to live for God. Its about realising, acting on and praising God for the fact that Jesus Christ alone is sufficient to save, mature and fulfill us. Whilst God has given us the responsibility to choose and act according to His declared will in the Bible, it is only possible by drawing on the sufficiency of Christ in our lives and relying on the grace and mercy He gives to us every day through the work of His Spirit within. No more fretting about whether we think we are good enough. No more feeding insecurities of doubt and despair. Lets focus our energy each day not on our efforts, but on what God has done for us in Jesus and rest in the salvation that He freely gives. Lets trust that in following God He will fulfill our deepest desires and give us all we need to live for and enjoy Him. Let’s never forget that Jesus alone is sufficient.
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
12:1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6 Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.