FOR CHRISTIANS WHO STRUGGLE WITH LIFE

Many Christians who find that they experience little, if any, difficulties in their lives seem to be on a proverbial “roll” and are spiritually mature and well able to deal with the world. It may be more of a fact that those who consistently experience smooth sailing are probably not growing toward spiritual maturity. Christians who try to serve God and honor Him in their lives, yet are continuously frustrated by setbacks and outright failures, probably are growing more toward spiritual maturity.

The reason for this is simple enough. Those who do nothing, never experience failure. Only those who try to accomplish something are more likely to experience failure. Then there is the matter of satanic influence. The fact is that Satan hates God and those who love and worship Him. Satan’s spiritual messengers concentrate on those who are growing spiritually. He doesn’t waste time trying to tempt or interfere with people who are spiritually sick or dying spiritually.

The most important lesson to learn about the conflict between one’s worldly nature (self-centered) and one’s spiritual nature (God-centered) is to stop struggling. This is precisely what all Christians must do, especially those who are aggressive and goal oriented. The fact is that Christians can be assured that no matter how successful they might be at turning situations over to the Holy Spirit for guidance they will, from time to time, experience their worldly nature competing to make decisions. When this happens they will be tempted to do one of two things: give in to one’s self-centered nature or fight it. Either way they may lose.

Paul describes his struggles and underscores the hopelessness of trying to become spiritual using one’s own strength or will power. It just can’t be done. Those who have gone through the struggles and given up are often amazed when they discover that giving up is the first step toward winning the struggle. Romans 8:2 “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

This brings us to the pivotal question that every Christian must ask. “Am I willing to make an all-out commitment to serve Christ, no matter what and let the Holy Spirit guide every aspect of my life, at home, school or work?” At the same time we must realize that our worldly nature will raise its ugly head often and we will have to make a choice.

I have witnessed the downfall of too many Christians to not realize that with many, life is made up of daily struggles or do I downplay the seriousness of negative influences. Failures may be self-inflicted or circumstantial. No two Christians are defeated in precisely the same way, yet there is a definite pattern to the traps they fall into. Curiously, the four most common traps are directly related to both our earthly natures and our spiritual natures. Depending on the circumstances, each of the four can be either a strength or a weakness.

First, we have the need to be loved. We can receive that love from God or allow our worldly natures to lead us into temptations. Second, we have a need to belong and be accepted. Who best can meet this need: the world or the church? Third, we need to have an identity or be someone. Are we working to let the world define who we are or are we willing to allow God to define us as one of His children? Fourth, everyone needs to have a purpose in life. Is our purpose a career success, financial rewards or reaching the top of the corporate ladder? Nothing in Scripture indicates that God opposes successful careers, wealth, position or the pursuit of personal interests, recreational or otherwise. However, our true purpose is to serve God by living a holy life, being accountable to and dependent upon Him and living at peace with others. We must never let our guard down as the enemy will tempt us through one or more of our God-given needs. If we allow our worldly nature to fulfill these needs we could end up separated from God.

As long as we allow the Holy Spirit and our spiritual nature to control who we are and determine our life’s purpose we will have the strength to meet each of the needs we so desperately seek. At the same time we will be protected from the enemy. Most often we fail by using human methods to fulfill spiritual needs that can only be fulfilled by the Lord Himself.

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