Most Difficult Part of Being a Christian

May 9, 2017 at 11:06 AM

Would you agree that there is something about being a Christian that makes it difficult? While we would hopefully agree that our sins – past, present, and future – were all nailed to the cross and our faith in His completed work on our behalf grants us salvation, we also understand that day-to-day living is often fraught with difficulties and problems. What exacerbates those difficulties and problems is the thing we are going to discuss in this article.

If we want to try to narrow things down, we can state without equivocation that the Bible is filled with example after example of right and wrong living. The Old Testament is replete with the many illustrations of people who made both correct and the incorrect decisions where God is concerned. It all boiled down to whether or not they were willing to submit to His Lordship over them.

It is fine to speak of God’s sovereignty. In fact, it is absolutely necessary because we finite creatures need to be constantly reminded of the fact that God is supreme, He is sovereign in all things, and He and He alone decides the fate of every aspect of His Creation. Of course, to acknowledge that God is all these things is something that people must do on a daily basis because we can quickly forget.

Evolution has determined that the “Big Bang” started all things off as far as “creation” is concerned. Millions of years has brought about the plethora of animals, plants, and people, not to mention the earth and its geography. For those who believe in the fantasy of evolution, it’s really simply an intellectually unfeasible belief system, but it solves the problem for the agnostic and atheist regarding whether or not “God” exists. With evolution, no god of any kind is needed. In fact, since scientists have such an incredibly difficult time explaining how life began (they say they simply don’t know), they’ve now begun embracing the notion that life was “seeded” here on earth by “aliens” from other planets.

Psalm 2 sums up quite clearly how man’s fallen nature is dead set against God in every possible way. Take the time to read that short Psalm sometime. It is eye-opening.

The less people have to rely on or even acknowledge God’s existence and sovereignty, the better they believe they are in this life. Because of our fallen nature, human beings are dead set against “submitting” to anything, much less God Himself. By the same token, just because a person becomes “saved” by receiving salvation made possible only by and through Jesus, this does not mean that we are automatically able to submit to His Lordship. It takes work on our part; not work to gain salvation, but work to cooperate with God as He works in and through us to recreate the character of His Son in our lives.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. – Philippians 2:12 KJV

The above verse is often quoted by people who erroneously believe that we are supposed to “work” to some degree to gain and/or keep salvation. This is not what Paul is referring to here. Paul is acknowledging that being a Christian happens through faith, maintaining the Christian life is not easy. It’s not easy because we have to constantly deal with the “flesh” that wants to exert itself. The “flesh” or “self” doesn’t like being dethroned. It wants to be in charge. But God is the only One who deserves to be in charge and that is what He expects from every one of His children. Even though Christians have a new nature guided by the Holy Spirit who indwells us, we must be actively pursuing submission to God and His sovereignty.

In 2 Chronicles 20, we learn about Jehoshaphat, who was the King of Judah. You’ll recall that Israel had gone through a split and instead of being one nation as God intended, Israel was now divided into a northern and southern kingdom. The loyalists in the southern kingdom (not always true), were part of Judah because that capital was Jerusalem. Those of the northern kingdom – Israel – had Samaria as their capital. This gives us some understanding as to why there was animosity between stalwart Jews of Jesus’ time and the “Samaritans.”

At any rate, the narrative of 2 Chronicles 20 tells us that “the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle,” (v. 1b). This happened a great deal then with people, tribes, or other warring factions always trying to increase their borders by swallowing up a neighboring nation. It isn’t that much different today though it is more often done within the political realm, though actual battles, skirmishes, and wars still occur and will to the end of this age (Matthew 24).

But what is interesting here is Jehoshaphat’s response to this threat. He was told in verse 2 of this great multitude of warriors coming against him. Verse 3 tells us that Jehoshaphat “feared.” That was his first response, which would probably be how most would react. However, the king of Judah immediately follows that up with the fact that he “set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah,” (v. 3b).

Jehoshaphat didn’t stop there. He then brought the people together and the Bible tells us, “And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord,” (v. 4).

The next few verses tell us exactly how intense the people were in seeking the Lord. Why did they do that? Why didn’t they simply prepare for battle and deal with it that way? First, they were fearful. Second, they didn’t allow their fear to cause them to act stupidly. They went to the Lord because they understood that this gathering of warriors against Judah did not take the Lord by surprise! They wanted to know what His plans were in this situation.

Jehoshaphat speaks before all the people what amounts to a prayer to the Lord God. Read it carefully, as it is an eye-opener.

O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? – 2 Chronicles 20:6-7 KJV

Notice before all the people, Jehoshaphat acknowledges God’s absolute sovereignty in the form of rhetorical questions. Is God not the God in heaven? Does not God rule over all the kingdoms of the heathen nations? Isn’t there enough power and might to put down anything that comes against God’s anointed? The answers to all these questions are a resounding yes!

When Jehoshaphat finished speaking, God gave voice to a young man by the name of Jahaziel, who, as it turns out, was a Levite. The Bible text in verse 14 tells us that God’s Spirit came upon Jahaziel and he spoke encouraging words to the assembled people in verses 15 – 17.

Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.

Notice the phrases, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you,” and “for the Lord will be with you.” Wow, know how unnerving this may have been initially. They were supposed to simply plant themselves and watch God work on their behalf! How hard is that to do for the average Christian? Sometimes, that’s exactly what we need to be doing.

God provided His response to the fact that Jehoshaphat humbled himself and led the people to humble themselves. In humility, they bowed before the Lord, they acknowledged His supreme sovereignty and understood that God would work according to His will.

When the people did go out and fight the next morning, certain leaders continued to inspire the people to “believe” the Lord (v. 20). They spent time praising God in the midst of the ensuing battle. It was hardly a battle at all. God was with them so mightily that everyone who came against them was slain, rich, poor, young, and old.

What was the result of Jehoshaphat’s humbling of himself before God Almighty?

And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel. – (2 Chronicles 20:29)

That’s not all. Because Jehoshaphat worked through his fear enough to submit to God’s Lordship over him and Judah, God blessed Jehoshaphat with more.

So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. (v. 30)

Turns out that Jehoshaphat reigned for 25 years from the time he was 35-years-old. God honored Jehoshaphat’s faith in Him. Because Jehoshaphat trusted in the Lord God, God worked in and through him to bring victory and peace to Judah.

It would be nice to say that Jehoshaphat responded this way to God in every situation, but it wasn’t long before he did something that was opposed to God and he paid a small price for it. Why? Because he gave into his “flesh” which told him that he could make a correct decision and didn’t need God’s counsel. God allowed him to make that wrong decision, by joining himself with the king of Israel, Ahaziah. Because of that decision, God sent a man by the name of Eliezer to tell him what he had done wrong and what God would do because of it (v. 37).

As the Lord said to Cain, sin is crouching at the door (Genesis 4:6-7). Either Satan directly, the world, or the flesh is never far away and will do whatever possible to cause us to take up the reins of our lives. God wants us to continually and always, in every circumstance and situation, to rely on Him. He wants us to come to Him with praise on our lips even if our hearts are heavy. He wants us to learn to acknowledge that He and He alone is God Almighty and that His sovereignty cannot be hampered by man, beast, or devil.

This is something that authentic Christians need to be reminded of daily. We often have “highs” or “lows” and that is due primarily to the fact that we are submitting to God one day, but following our own desires the next.

Being a Christian is hard work. It’s not an easy road. It’s only “easy” when we are in complete submission to God and because we continue to have a sin nature even after we’re saved, we war against it. Paul says we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It does require effort; effort in prayer, effort in choice, effort in desire. Sometimes, it will require us to fall on our knees, crying out to God begging Him to help us get “over” ourselves and trust Him.

I have a difficulty with Christians who are always happy, always nonplussed, never in pain. That does not appear to be what the Bible teaches. Yes, we will have joy if we submit ourselves to Him. Once we successfully do that, we will be able to “let go” of our situation and trust Him to bring His will to pass in and through us. But getting there sometimes requires work and involves emotional pain at times.

Sometimes, there is great pain in being a Christian because the more we learn to rely on God and submit to Him, the greater the awareness of our own sin and failures. Certainly, God does not want us to wallow in those failures, but they should absolutely serve to remind us that we are sinful creatures and without God living within us through the gift of salvation, we would not even be aware of just how often we fail to submit ourselves to Him.

Our job as Christians is to seek His will, which means ignoring the pull and push of Self and sin. That…is…work.

May the Lord open your eyes to show you how blessed you are in Him!

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, emergent church, Emotional virtue, eternity, Judaism, Life in America, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, second coming. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

When People Cannot Comprehend the Trinity It’s Dangerous to be Conservative These Days

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