As a Christian, so often we hear from our leaders about the wonders of Christ and all we have to do is believe in Him, then all our troubles will magically disappear. In reality, we know this is not exactly how it is. Sure the Lord offers us eternal salvation, forgiveness of our sins and yes He is there for us. However, the Bible tells us we are to take up our cross and follow Him, which means we have a role to play in the process of becoming Holy.
The Lord is inviting us to partake in all the goodness He has to offer and once we make a commitment to Him, we are released from the chains of sin, we are given power over sin and our eyes are opened to the ways of the Lord. Now having said this, doing the right thing is not automatic and does not happen just because you now believe in Christ. Christ expects you to use this power, wisdom and strength to learn to live according to His principles. You are still living in a society that does not practice the principles of Christ and even though you have confessed your sins to the Lord, you still have the ability to choose how you are going to live.
I love reading about the members of the early church as discussed in the Bible, especially Paul. Even though they were filled with the Holy Spirit, were given great insight to the Lord, and worked their whole lives to spread God’s message, they still messed up from time to time. In Romans 7:14-20 Paul talks about how he does not understand why he does what he does not want to do. Going even further to say he does what he hates to do, even though he knows it is wrong. It is comforting to see these men of great faith going through such struggles because if we are honest with ourselves, we go through the same thing. That is, we struggle against the sin within us if we have taken up our cross and are making the effort to follow Christ.
Our Christian life is a constant process of maturing faith. As I mentioned above, when we turn our lives over to the Lord, our eyes are opened to sin and we are commanded by the Lord to turn from this sin. The Holy Spirit will be constantly guiding us in this process or journey of maturing faith and as we conquer one aspect of sin in our lives, another will be shown to us to work on. God is faithful and will always be there with us, but it is up to us to choose how we are to live. He will give us the tools we need, but we have to make the commitment to Him and turn from sin.
If we are making every effort to live as Christ lived, it is easy to get discouraged when we fail; and we will fail. However there are a couple of things we need to always remember. First, the Lord understands we are sinners and will judge us by the intentions of our heart. In other words, He knows if we are truly doing our best to carry our cross and follow Him or if we are just living in sin. The second thing to remember, we make it hard on ourselves by our own lack of faith. If we were able to totally trust His ways, life would be so much easier and as His grace would be manifested in us. With time and faith, it does get easier. We start to understand His ways are so much more superior to our old ways, our trust in Him grows, we resist less and the internal struggles are easier to over come. This process is what I refer to as maturing in faith.
Steve Childers is the author of Catholic or Protestant: What our Churches Should Be Teaching. Visit www.CatholicOrProtestant.com
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