The Christian Life Isn’t Meant to Be Effortless, Part 2

What has Christ been calling you to do? Then by His grace and empowered by His Spirit, do it!

Notice what the Apostle Paul writes in Phil. 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” What did Paul say he could do? He could do all things God wanted him to do. But He could only do it as Christ strengthened him. Still, Paul had to do what Christ gave him the strength to do in obedience to the Father.

 

Read part one of this post here.

When God saves people, He doesn’t make them less human, but more fully human. And He intends for us to use all that He created us with—our minds, our bodies, our will, and all that’s part of being human—to live for His glory.

Who is to do the obeying?

Some teachers, however, deny this when they say that if you abide in Christ as you should (Jn. 15:1-11), then you won’t have to exert effort to be Christlike, any more than a branch of a grapevine exerts effort to produce grapes.

This kind of teaching ignores the fact that in Scripture repeatedly God commands us to accept the responsibility of obeying Him. In Col. 3:2, when you are told, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” who is to do that, you or God?

When God says in Eph. 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives,” that means husband, you’d better actively love your wife. Do you think God intends for you to tell your wife, “I’m not going to try to love you any more, I’m just going to let go and let God”? Try telling her that. She knows how much love she’d get out of that deal!

When the Lord says in 1 Cor. 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality,” what He means is for you to use your feet and get away.

Even in Romans 6 when it says, “Consider yourselves dead to sin,” who is to do the considering? You are!

There is no elimination of any part of our humanity in Christian living.

Work toward what only the Holy Spirit can produce

The Bible commands us to work toward things that only the Holy Spirit can give. For example, notice 2 Pet. 1:5-7, especially at the beginning when it reads, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” Only the Holy Spirit can truly develop those Christlike qualities, nevertheless we are told to cultivate them.

Think about what Paul says in Phil. 2:12“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” You’ve probably heard the explanation of that. You are to work out the salvation that God has worked in. The verse 13 adds, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God’s grace gives you both the desire and ability to work out what He has worked in. But you must be about it.

Read More