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Is the Christian Life Impossible?

  • January 28th, 2010 by Pastor Darryl Curtis   |  0 Comments

If you have any questions, comments or criticisms on this or any other topic, please feel free to let me know. It is easier for me to pick topics if I have your feedback. Thanks again for reading. I hope that you find a blessing here, and may the Lord be with you.

             A fellow on Facebook published this quote:

            The Christian life isn’t difficult – It is impossible. If we don’t know that, we will try to do things ourselves. Faith is not necessary when we think we can do it ourselves. Faith comes along when we realize that we cannot do it on our own. – Joseph Garlington

            Jesus Christ’s activities fell into two basic categories. The first was the supernatural category. Jesus opened the eyes of a man born blind, and when the man was questioned about that which Jesus did, he said, in John 9:32-33:
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Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.
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If this Man [Jesus] were not from God, He could do nothing.”
           
The healing of the blind man was an exhibition of Jesus’ supernatural power.

            The second was the natural category. Jesus submitted to crucifixion on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus allowed the Roman soldiers to drive nails into his wrists and ankles, but to do so did not require supernatural power. Two thieves were crucified next to Jesus, and they did not have supernatural power.

            The supernatural healing required faith. Jesus prayed to God by faith and requested the power of God to perform this healing. Luke 5:15-16 records:
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However, the report went around concerning [Jesus] all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.
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So [Jesus] Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
           
But the natural act, submitting to crucifixion, required faith as well.
Luke 22:41-43 records:
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And [Jesus] was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed,
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saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me;.”
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Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

            The supernatural act required the power of God, the natural act required strength from Heaven, and both acts required faith. Faith is necessary even if the act is natural and we can do it ourselves, because it is only by faith in God that we will agree to conform to God’s Will.

            The Christian life requires two things. First of all, the Christian life requires a knowledge of God’s Will. That’s why Jesus said, in Luke 22:42, “if it is Your will.” Jesus prayed to determine God’s Will, and God sent an angel to reassure Jesus that His sacrifice on the Cross was, in fact, God’s Will.

            Second of all, the Christian life requires submission to God’s Will. That’s why Jesus said, in Luke 22:42, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Jesus prayed the prayer of submission, praying that God’s Will, rather than His desire, would come to pass.

            If we have faith in God, we will submit ourselves to God’s Will, meaning, we will do those things that God tells us to do. And, in most cases, we don’t have to pray to determine God’s Will, because God makes His Will clear to us in His Word. 2Timothy 2:15 tells us to:
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Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
           
Our problem is not with the first part of Luke 22:42, “if it is Your will”; it is with the second part, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done”. The men that wrote the New Testament record received their inspiration from God and wrote the contents of God’s inspiration down so that we could refer to it. God’s Word is like a controlled intersection; you don’t have to ask a police officer whether or not you can go; if the light is red, stop, and if it is green, go. So now we have the traffic light of the Bible, which is a record of the will of God that we can follow. But our problem is that we need the faith to follow God’s instructions, and to stop when the light is red and go when the light is green.

            I was in a discussion with a young man the other day. He mentioned that when he moved away from home, he attended a local church in the town to which he moved to see if he liked it. As he sat down in the pew, a young woman sat down next to him and struck up a conversation with him. They hit it off, and within a few days, they were dating and having sex with one another. He felt guilty after a few sexual encounters with her, because he knew he wasn’t supposed to be having sex with a woman that he just met in church. They broke up after a few weeks. But he knew from the first time that he slept with the woman that what he was doing was not in God’s Will.

            His problem was not that he did not believe in the existence of God or that he did not know God’s Will. His problem was that he did not have enough faith in God’s Will to believe that he should follow God’s instructions and pass on having sex with a sexually available woman.

            God tells us to not have sex with anyone to whom we are not married. Hebrews 13:4 says:
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Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
           
But we say to ourselves, if both of us are willing, what’s the harm? Asking that question means that we don’t have faith that the Word of God is actually the best instruction for our lives, and we doubt that following the commandments of God will be the most beneficial activity for us. People disobey God because they think that they have a better understanding of what’s best for them than God does. Initially, to the young man, having sex was better than obeying God.

            So let me analyze Mr. Garlington’s statement. He says: The Christian life isn’t difficult–it is impossible. But the “a” clause of Hebrews 11:6 says:
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But without faith it is impossible to please [God].

            The corollary to Hebrews 11:6 is that with faith, it is possible to please God. We can live the Christian life and please God if we have faith in God’s Word and faith in God’s Will.

            Mr. Garlington says: If we don’t know that [the Christian life is impossible], we will try to do things ourselves. But God tells us to do things ourselves. I quoted 2Timothy 2:15 and Hebrews 13:4 which clearly tells us what to do ourselves, and let me quote Hebrews 13:17, which tells us:
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Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
           
God tells us to study, God tells us to flee sexual immorality, God tells us to obey, and, in His Word, God tells us many other things which we are supposed to do on our own.

            Mr. Garlington says: Faith is not necessary when we think we can do it ourselves. But I’ve already proven that to be untrue. We need faith in God’s will to do it ourselves, because doing God’s will sometimes contrary to our desire. Remember Jesus’ prayer in Luke 22:42, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

            Mr. Garlington says: Faith comes along when we realize that we cannot do it on our own. And that is true for things that are in the supernatural category, but it does not apply to the natural. In most cases, we don’t need supernatural power to obey God’s Word, but we do need faith in God’s will to obey God’s Word especially when obedience calls for us to give of ourselves, just as Jesus Christ gave of Himself on the Cross of Calvary, on which He died that we might be released from the penalty and the power of sin.

            With faith, it is possible to live in a manner pleasing to God on our own, and God tells us to do so. That is why, ultimately, there is a judgment.

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