Is The Christian Life Really All That Hard?
I have heard a lot of talk about how hard the Christian Life is…
I don’t think it’s all that hard, at least not any harder than anyone else has it.
In fact Paul agrees:
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
“common to man” that is *all* mankind, red, yellow, black or white saved and not saved.
Granted when we become alive unto God, we begin to see the sin corruption of the environment we are living in and it grieves us, and rightly so.
But, to put it all on an active assault by satan is ill-advised and may actually open an inroad for him, because there are several other sources of grief.
First, many times things come in the category of “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. We either simply can’t locate the required information, do not know we need additional information or are too lazy to look for it.
Then there is the fact that we live in a sin contaminated environment. There are bacterium, viruses, chemicals and who knows what to affect our health.
Also, there are others who do not need any outside help to be petty, jealous, self- interested or vindictive. Not to mention those that are just too drifty to know that they are doing harm.
None of the above can be attributed to an attack of the enemy, at least not directly.
What did you expect when you became a Christian?
2 Timothy 2:3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Here Paul equates being a Christian like enlisting in a military force…
Did you know that even though there was a draft during the Vietnam conflict, over 75% were volunteers?
When they enlisted I doubt that they expected to go to the beach in Hawaii and drink lemonade!
Another potential source of grief for ourselves is revealed in Hebrews 12:7 “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? “
The Greek for “hardship” has to do with tutelage, education and training, not necessarily because we’ve been bad children. But, that we need to grow.
When I joined the Navy, I stopped being a civilian and became a Sailor. I stopped thinking like a civilian and started learning to think like a sailor. My desires ceased to be those of a civilian and started to learn how to please my Petty Officer Instructor.
What I am alluding to is that when you became a Christian you were supposed to be a new creation, old things were supposed to be set aside (passed away).
It’s all about attitude. I could have made my time in the Navy really loathsome by approaching everything that happened as an assault on my person or an attempt to trip me up.
So, if the enemy shoots at you, what do you do? Act surprised, whine and complain? What did you enlist for???? No you grit your teeth and shoot back.
We used to jest about Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
That the only problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.
But, that seems to me to be a lack of commitment or an incomplete metamorphosis as explained in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
One major reason Christians suffer is because they continue to hold on to the old things.
When I joined the Navy I left behind my best friend, my dog, my mom and eventually the girl I joined to have a future for. My old life ceased to exist, the only thing that mattered was my existence as a sailor. The only commands that mattered were the commands of my Commanding Officer and senior petty officers.
This was what I chose; this was what I committed to…
The problem with most Christians is that they *Allow* themselves to continue to miss the old life.
Sure, it’s still there, but like letters from home it is no longer a determining part of your existence.
Yes, new Christians like new recruits have a lot to learn.
But, I think the most important lesson that they need to learn is that they can discipline their minds to obey Christ, to not think on things that defile or things that make them look back longingly on their old life.
Paul says we can…
2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Let me share some concepts that may help…
1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can sub-divide a bit more…
You see the will is at the top, this is what Paul is talking about when he tells us to “Reckon” ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. The will is something you have to exercise as it is your responsibility.
The mind is our primary battle ground; it is the computer memory for our existence as physical beings. It allows interaction with the physical realm and allows memory in a time limited environment.
And, like a computer its program code can be corrupted. But, with patience it can be reprogrammed to think on these things and not on the other things.
If fact with a little prayer and effort it is possible to program a spiritual firewall between your body and you soul.
This graphic shows the typical interactions in our individual parts.
This is important because self-condemnation during training can be crippling. (Not to mention the condemnation of your peers! Encouragement can go a long way!)
You want to do 50 push-ups? Great! How many days; how many failed attempts will it take to reach that goal?
Two thoughts come to mind.
The first is where Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet and tells Peter that if he doesn’t allow Jesus to wash his feet Peter has no part in Him (Jesus). Further, Jesus says something very interesting, that if you have had a bath you only need to have your feet washed.
I find this an interesting comment because living in a sin-corrupted world we will inevitably get our feet dirty just being here. (That does not include wallowing in the mud, however.)
I believe this is the type of sin that Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us of. We get our feet dirty daily… We return to Jesus daily to ask for His feet washing.
The other issue, as Paul alludes, is that our bodies are merely tents (tabernacles) in which we dwell in this earthly life. This means that in a very real sense our bodies are not us.
And, while our minds and bodies are tightly coupled; the mind acting as the interface between body and soul, our bodies are not us.
What we allow or will our minds to think on is a choice of the will, regardless of instantaneous physical responses.
Speaking as a man…
Take King David and Bathsheba as an example. As he walked on his rooftop he looks down and sees a beautiful woman taking a bath. His eyes take in the scene, his gut reacts to her beauty; and he has a critical choice to make.
Does he allow himself to think on how desirable her beauty is, and allow lust to form, (in simplest terms lust means desiring for oneself that which is not yours to have).
When people say the battle ground is the mind, they are not kidding!
You ask about memories?
I have often considered that there is a file clerk operating in the background filing and sort all my experiences, everything I do, everything I say and everything I see.
Now if I’ve trained my mind that I enjoy it reminding me of things I’ve seen, than It is not a stretch to understand how it may take some time to un-train ones’ mind.
Paul refers to this in the follow on verse 2 Corinthians 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
(Interesting how this follows casting down imaginations…)
So, when your “file clerk” brings to mind a scene or a picture from your past you have a choice to either dwell on it and enjoy it, or to squash it with a vengeance.
That is, in your own mind grab that thought, choke it and violently reject it, casting it down.
Well I’ve rambled on for a while too long.
Let me know what you think of this rather long and rambling tome.