I think some of you know that I teach bible lessons to a class of teens/young adults. A questioned I asked them—and ask you— is this:
If I asked you if you were 100% committed to Christ, what would you say?
Christians often say that because we’re sinners/live in a sinful world, we cannot really be in control of our actions.
“No one is perfect,” they say.
Usually, such things are uttered immediately following (or immediately before) they did or said something they inherently knew was wrong.
They say something really mean about someone: “Well, I’m not perfect.”
They curse and gossip and cheat: “That’s just who I am.”
To me, that response diminishes God’s power and tells me the God you say you serve is a God that truly isn’t all that powerful.
If I am trying to represent the God I serve and the Christ I follow, I’m not going to talk like the rest of the world talks. I’m not going to cheat like the rest of the world cheats. I’m not going to lie like the rest of the world lies. I’m not even going to eat like the rest of the world eats (well, at least the rest of the world where the standard Western diet prevails). Plain and simple.
I digress. The point I’m trying to make here is that instead of coming up with excuses to why we curse/cheat/lie/steal/mistreat our bodies/sin, we should own our mistakes, switch gears, and say “You know, that was wrong. I messed up. I shouldn’t have done/said that. But God is able to help me with this.”
I get it. We struggle.
But who said this life would be easy?
“The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.”
“Wrongs cannot be righted, nor can reformations in conduct be made by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. Character building is the work, not of a day, nor of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown.” Ministry of Healing, page 452 & 453
It’s a struggle because we live with sin all around us. Temptations are rampant. Traumas tear our hearts. The good news is, we have a hope!
“You need not go to the ends of the earth for wisdom, for God is near. It is not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you. We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you.” Christ’s Object Lessons, page 146
Hebrews 12:3-10 talks about what it means to love God, to allow him to transform us, to develop love to obey and willingness to let Him change our hearts.
Titus 2:11 talks about the importance of God’s grace in overcoming sin and temptation and Ephesians 2:8 talks about the importance of growing our faith.
1 Thessalonians, James, and 1 Peter all talk about trials faced throughout the Christian life.
Christ’s righteousness comes by faith (Romans 3:22), and nothing is impossible for us to achieve (Philippians 4:13). He came to change our sinful hearts, to help us obey his law in love, to overcome sin. We can do nothing without the transforming power of Christ ( John 15:5)
The test of true Christian sincerity is not in our words, but in our actions.
That said, it absolutely matters what we do—how else can we develop a heart/character fit for heaven?
“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow….if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.” Isaiah 1:18-20.
Okay, this last verse sounds a bit scary. But I included it because there is a deep message here. Not meant to be scary, but definitely meant to be serious. As Christ’s disciples, we must serve Him out of love and commitment (just like a marriage). But if we refuse to obey the commitment we made and rebel against that commitment, there are consequences (just like a marriage).
Just because I make mistakes in my Christian life (and marriage) does not mean I am less committed. If I give up, then yes, I am less committed. Press forward with love and faith!
Don’t. Give. Up.
Trust in God’s power to help you overcome. (And get a brain scan if you’re really struggling. I type this to be a little humorous, but I’m actually pretty serious.)
In the end, I believe we Christians should be able to say we are 100% committed to Christ. And if we’re not, we need to ask ourselves why.