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Monday, 5 February 2018

Why is the Christian life hard to live?

Why is the Christian life hard to live?

This is a sponsored post...
Here’s an illustration: I'd been doing my best to resolve the mosquito issues we'd been experiencing at my home for some months. This breed of mosquitoes seemed to laugh off my preferred brand of insecticide whenever I used it on them. I'd use a much harsher brand and see their dead bodies strewn all over the floor afterwards, but our relief was always short-lived; they'd be humming all over the place again within hours!

But one day, I remembered Integrated Science or was it Home Economics from secondary school: mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed! I rushed outside: close to our living room windows were two buckets, both of them half-filled with rain/tap water with all sorts floating thereon. Mosquitoes everywhere!

My point is no matter how often I sprayed the house with insecticide, our respite from mosquitoes would always be temporary unless their breeding places got destroyed. In addition, insecticides have their own harmful effects on humans and the mosquitoes would eventually become resistant to them too. Getting rid of them would only become more difficult. How does this relate to living the Christian life?

Romans 5:19 says- "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous."

From the above verse, we see that committing acts of sin is not what makes people sinners. People are made sinners by Adam's sin. Romans 5:19 above tells us so.Everyone descended from Adam is born with this sinful/old nature. The stagnant water in the buckets represents man having the old nature inherited from Adam. The mosquitoes that bothered me represent acts of sin as well as sickness, lack, depression, stress and everything that came to be as a result of Adam's sin. This sinful nature (stagnant water,) activated by the law that many are trying to obey in order to be righteous before God, is what causes mosquitoes (acts of sin, sickness, lack, etc) to proliferate. We see this in Romans 7:5-

"When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death."

Try to obey the law in a bid to get right with God and sinful deeds will multiply. We see this in Romans 6:14 too: “For sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under law but under grace.” Sin has dominion over those who are trying to obey the law in a bid to be godly but many in the church have this backwards.

 Unfortunately in the church today, the focus is on preaching the killing of mosquitoes (acts of sin
) as the path to attaining righteousness and making it to heaven, when what is needful is ridding the flock of the sinful nature that was inherited from Adam (getting rid of the stagnant water.) Christ died to rid us of this sinful nature. See Colossians 2:11–

“When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.”

In Him, we are a new creation. God made Him to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, as it is written in 2 Cor. 5:21- "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

When you receive the abundance of grace and believe that you are saved and made righteous by the obedience of Christ (Romans 5:19) and not your own obedience, good works or your self-discipline and law-keeping prowess, you no longer have the old/sin nature. You are dead to the law. Old things have passed away. No more curse, generational or otherwise. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus, made righteous not by your own obedience to the law but by Christ’s obedience (Romans 5:19.) And this is the result according to Romans 7:4-

"So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the One who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God."

Just to digress a little, understand what it means to have "died with Christ" and to be "united with the One who was raised from the dead." God did not raise the Lord Jesus from the dead just because He could. Christ's death and resurrection is the divine receipt showing that we who believe have been forgiven of all of our sins and made righteous by His one sacrifice for sins. See this in Romans 4:23-

“Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal), [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God]." See the TPT version: “Jesus was handed over to be crucified for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised back to life to prove that He had made us right with God!”

Christ would not have risen from the dead if our lifetime of sins had not been forgiven and we had not been declared righteous (justified,) all apart from works. His resurrection is akin to seeing someone who went to serve a death sentence in an impregnable prison for the crimes of another alive and walking free. As believers, we have everlasting righteousness apart from works because Christ is risen.

When we believe that He is risen (that we are made righteous by His obedience and not our puny efforts at doing good things and obeying the letter that kills,) we get to "produce a harvest of good deeds for God," aka works of faith, yet not us but Christ in us. 

Instead of stagnant water (the sinful nature) in vessels that can only produce acts of sin and such that lead to death, in Christ, we have His righteousness, so we get to live right. Just as the sin nature produces acts of sin, as a new creation with Christ as our righteousness, we bear fruits of righteousness, yet not us but Christ in us.

In essence, no matter how many canisters of insecticide one expends in a bid to kill the mosquitoes (trying hard by one's power to be sin-free through obedience to the letter that kills,) without getting rid of the stagnant water (rejecting the old nature that was inherited from Adam and receiving our Lord Jesus' blood-bought righteousness which is given as a gift to all who believe Him according to 2 Corinthians 5:21,) he can never be free from mosquitoes (acts of sin.) He has the old (sinful) nature. Sin will multiply and the result is death.

Remember Romans 6:14- “For sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under law but under grace.” Sin has dominion over those who are trying to obey the law in order to be godly (be like God.)

This is why many in the church today are trapped in an endless cycle of committing acts of sin and promising God that they will not sin again, only to sin more. Many are stuck in the rut of attending deliverance and curse-breaking sessions all in a bid to be free from curses that Christ hung on the cross to free us from. Like my insecticide and mosquitoes experience, any results will be short-lived. The old nature is still intact so no matter how much such do to be free from their "mosquitoes" of acts of sin, sickness, lack, depression, curses, etc, more will come.  

The one with the old nature rejects the gift of righteousness that Christ died that we might have and strives to attain righteousness/godliness (be like God) by human effort, just like Eve did. He does not believe Romans 5:19– "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous."

But Romans 3:20 says: "For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are."

Also, Galatians 5:4 says "For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace." 

Yet in many places of worship, people are being subtly led to reject the gift of righteousness that Christ died that we might have and to depend on their own "menstrual rag" righteousness from works of the law. Isaiah 64:6 shows us God's view of the "good things" we do in order to be righteous: "We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight." The good things we do are like menstrual rags in God’s sight!

Only the blood-bought righteousness that proceeds from the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ will suffice for God the Righteous and He freely gives it to all who believe.

Grace is undeserved, unmerited favour. If one iota of our strength is in it, it is no longer Grace (Romans 11:6,) and only by grace through faith are we saved, so we have nothing to boast of in ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9,) not our own self-discipline, giving, morality, evangelism, tithe payment, dedication or right-living prowess. Wonderful as these things are, they cannot save anybody. Doing them in order to gain God's favour and acceptance is rejecting the gift of righteousness that Christ died that we might have; it is akin to killing mosquitoes inside your house but ignoring their breeding ground. Only in the Beloved are we accepted. Ephesians 1:6.

With the Lord as our righteousness, the old nature is no more; "all these things shall be added unto you." We get to be transformed to the image of the glory of the Lord, from glory to glory, through no effort of ours but by His Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18.) We get to live in triumph over sin, stress, sickness and every ill. We get to love proclaiming Jesus. We get to live a life of moral excellence even beyond that which the law demands. We get to produce a harvest of good deeds for God, yet not us but Christ in us.

Romans 5:17 says: "For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one Man, Jesus Christ."

This death that is as a result of Adam’s offence is not necessarily immediate. It is a process. Fear, stress, worry, silly mistakes, working so hard only to lose it all, sickness, lack, depression, fast-tracked ageing are all death begun. God said to Adam "for in the day of thine eating of it -- dying thou dost die." Psalms 90:4 says of God "A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by,"; Moses wrote this concerning God's view of the life of man (v.3.) Adam did not give up the ghost immediately after his death sentence came into effect; he lived for almost 1,000 years aka one day gone by in the sight of God.

Not only is the Christian life hard to live by human effort, it is impossible to live. Only Christ can. This is why we sing “‘tis no longer I that liveth, but Christ that liveth in me.” Only with the abundance of grace and having Christ as our righteousness do we get to live in triumph over sin and death.

Sinners are made righteous by "one Man's obedience": Christ's; when we believe that God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21. Here, we are a new creation in Christ. When you believe that your right-standing with God and His blessings upon you have got nothing to do with what you did or did not do but have ALL to do with what Christ has done, the old (sinner) nature is no more. The stagnant water is gone.

There might still be some mosquitoes (acts of sin, sickness, etc) inside your house after the stagnant water (old nature) is removed but they will all die off and there will be none to replace them. Remember, “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18. Things will only get better and you will no longer continue to live in sin because you have the only brand of righteousness that counts before God: Christ’s.

In place of the root of sin (stagnant water) that produces acts of sin (death-causing mosquitoes,) we have Christ's righteousness so we bear fruit to God. We get to produce "a harvest of good deeds for God." No more mosquitoes (acts of sin) but abundant life, right living and every blessing of God in Christ! This is the Good News.

Believe Right and you will Live Right.


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