I was visiting with a friend of mine today, and we were talking about how hard it is sometimes to get our thoughts off ourselves and onto the Lord. As believers, we desire the deeper life of faith—the kind of life where we are always cognizant of His presence in us. Not just with us, but in us. Christ dwells in us, and so we have the Christ life, freely given by Him, if we will only embrace it. If Christ is in me, I have the power to resist the temptation to sin (Hebrews 4:15, Galatians 5:16), I still give in to it every day, sometimes many times each day. So, what is the reason for this? Is there some sort of disconnect between the truth that I know and the actions I take?
Yes and no. Maybe something is missing if I have the power of the Holy Spirit—the same power that raised Christ from the dead—yet still fall to temptation. On the other hand, the fact that I have the Holy Spirit does not preclude human failure, or guarantee a sinless life. If it did, the Bible would not be full of admonitions to resist temptation and repent of sin! I know I'll never be perfect, but I do desire to have victory over self and sin, and to truly live as a slave of Christ.
As we discussed this, my friend and I tried to encourage one another toward this deeper life that is available to all believers. Second Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. My old self is dead, and I have been born anew in Christ. I am no longer a slave to sin, but I am now a slave to Christ. So, how can I remember and apply all this truth? As we discussed it, my friend and I came up with a few things we had been neglecting in our quest for a more Christ-centered life.
The first thing that was missing for me was prayer. Not that I don’t pray, but perhaps I don’t pray in such a way as to gain that deeper life that I desire. Every morning, as I’m reading, I pray and ask the Lord to help me understand and apply His Word. I pray for my family and friends, for my pastor, my counselees and the missionaries. But I don’t cry out to the Lord, pleading for a deeper walk with Him. I don’t beg Him to change my heart and help me to resist temptation to sin, as David did. I need to spend time in meditation on the glory and beauty of the Lord, just enjoying His perfection, and basking in His grace and love for me.
My friend discovered that what might be missing for her was time in the Word. She reads lots of books about theology, listens to sermons, and talks about the Lord all the time. She has a great deal of Scripture memorized, but she doesn’t spend much time actually reading the Word of God. She decided that she will set aside time each day, just to meditate on and study Scripture.
Finally—and this was not a new discovery for either of us—we are much too focused on ourselves and our circumstances. We both deal daily with pain, limited mobility, and the frustration that comes with that. It is difficult to focus on Christ when you are in pain, and we both often give in to the distraction. But our bodies belong to the Lord, and He has the right to do with them whatever he pleases. As my friend says, “If he thinks it best to increase my pain today, that’s none of my business!” That’s not the natural response, but it is the truth.
How ‘bout you? Have you also experienced this craving for the deeper life we all are offered in Christ? What do you think is holding you back?