As I thought about my first post and the bold claims that I spoke of that Christianity offers, I felt like many who read that post must be asking themselves some questions about their experience with Christianity. Questions like…Why haven’t I experienced this supernatural presence of God in my life? Why am I depressed? Why don’t I hear His voice on a regular basis? Why isn’t He becoming more and more real in my life? Why am I not filled with peace and contentment and joy and all of those other divine gifts that Christianity so boldly proclaims to offer to its followers?
The scriptures say that the Spirit of God actually dwells inside our body! That God Himself dwells in me. Have we thought about the implications of that? Shouldn’t there be something radically different going on in my life if I have God Himself living in me? And if you aren’t a Christian and are reading this, you may have thought ….I see no difference in the Christians I know in comparison to the non-Christians. The divorce rate is virtually the same. They seem utterly depressed in the same way nearly everyone else does. They are filled with anxiety and fear in the same way that all are. Where is the outward evidence that what they say is true? So I felt that as I looked at the list of possible topics to write about, I needed to deal with those questions first. In light of that, I will spend the next several blog entries attempting to address some of the major reasons most Christians don’t ever enter into His presence, progress in Christianity, and experience the life He offers to us all. I must admit that as I looked over my list of reasons why most of His children are not experiencing this divine life, and attempted to put them in a logical order, it was difficult for me to settle on this first reason. It was difficult because the temptation in writing what will only be my 2nd blog post is to pick a topic that will not turn away followers rather than what is so obviously the first reason to be addressed…..SIN!
Here is the problem I see that tends to stunt the growth of many of His children. The process usually goes something like this…
- We become convicted of the sin in our hearts and realize that we are a sinner by nature.
- We hear the good news of Christ!
- He grants us the faith to believe that Good news, and as a result, we believe and receive salvation. Praise God!
- We repent ( turn away from ) those sins He convicted us of in the first place ( this turning away from those sins is one of the evidences of the genuineness of our saving faith in step 3 above)
- We go on from this point thankful that we have received salvation and live a life quite content in the thinking that we are a pretty good and decent person. We are not a murderer or rapist. We don’t rob banks. We aren’t pedophiles. We don’t beat our wife. We hold a decent job, pay our bills, and provide for our children. We look around at the rest of the world, and in the depths of our heart, this is the assessment we make…. “I’m a pretty good person in comparison to them”
The problem lies in step 5. This step was never intended! There are two issues within step 5 that must be dealt with in all Christians if we will ever progress in our walk with Him. We simply cannot mature in Christ without them. Both of them are rooted in a problem of comparison!
When we make the proclamation within our hearts that “we are pretty good and decent people”, we are doing so because we are making a comparison of our life to theirs. All such comparisons are deeply rooted in pride. This prideful comparison that we make against others is the exact opposite of humility. The great C. S. Lewis has written what I believe to be one of the best teachings on the subject of Pride in his book Mere Christianity. In that book he states…
“Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind”
So we end up pridefully comparing ourselves to the rest of the world, and in doing so, we fail to deal with our own sin. We don’t deal with it because we don’t see it. We don’t see it because we are comparing ourselves to the wrong person. This brings me to the next issue within Step 5 above, the issue of our standard.
If we aren’t comparing ourselves to the “rest of the world”, then who are we supposed to be comparing ourselves to? Well, of course, you already know what I’m going to say. Our standard is supposed to be Christ. You don’t need to read this blog to figure that out. But here is where I believe many Christians fail. WE SIMPLY DON’T TAKE THE SCRIPTURES SERIOUSLY!! Oh, if only we understood the implications of that mistake. We should all read the following verses and give them serious thought.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for Gods holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:3-5
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lords will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:17-18, NIV
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior, because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”1 PETER 1:14-16, NASB
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13, NASB
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 1 Peter1:17 NIV
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Mathew 7:21-23, NASB
These words should be sobering to us all. How does our life compare to them? Was he serious about coarse joking and any kind of impurity and not even a hint of sexual immorality? He says we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling. He will spit the lukewarm out of His mouth. And then there are those haunting words of Christ Himself indicating that many will think they were saved but find out otherwise. What if we took Him at His word? What if he actually meant what He said?
I am not writing these things with the intent of making one think that if we sin we are going to hell. The intent of my heart in writing this is not to cause one to doubt there salvation, but instead to prove it to be genuine. What do I mean when I say “prove it”? I mean that if we are going to progress in Christianity; if we are going to push into His presence; if we call ourselves Christians; we must take a look at the above scriptures, and the many more like them in the Word, and acknowledge the possibility of two things….
1. THE STANDARD OF LIFE AND BEHAVIOR WE ARE CALLED TO IS MUCH HIGHER THAN WE THOUGHT.
2. WE SIMPLY HAVE NOT TAKEN OUR PERSONAL BATTLE WITH SIN AND OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE NEARLY SERIOUS ENOUGH!
In conclusion, I would like to leave you with two thoughts. One, the normal Christian life is one that as we become more and more Holy and Christ-like, we are at the same time, becoming more and more aware of just how sinful and dirty we really are. As we see Him more clearly, we see ourselves more clearly also. We appreciate His grace and mercy and salvation more and more each passing day because we realize more and more how undeserving we really are. Two, dealing with our sin will require sacrifice. That is why it is referred to as crucifying the flesh. It will be grueling and hard, just as it was for our Savior as He carried that cross and was beaten and tortured. We will find ourselves continually departing from the ways and traditions of this world. We may have to make difficult decisions to separate ourselves from certain people in our life. It may require confession. It may require us to reevaluate the things we watch and listen to. It may require quitting your job or relocating altogether. It may require giving up hobbies that have become a god in your life. Speaking of gods, it may require us to make less money. The world may call us prudes and mock and scorn us. They may say that we are extreme and radical in our lifestyle and beliefs. Let them! Our time here is short. It will be over in a moment. But we will be there forever! May we arrive on that day with our head held high as we stand before the King. May we stand and know that we carried our cross, that we battled with Him against the enemy, and hear those great and mighty words…
“WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SLAVE, YOU WERE FAITHFUL WITH A FEW THINGS, I WILL PUT YOU IN CHARGE OF MANY THINGS; ENTER INTO THE JOY OF YOUR MASTER” MATHEW 25:23
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AUTHOR: MIKE MAZYCK