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Pointers along the way #741

God's greatest challenge

- Jacob Ninan

In God's plan for our salvation He has already determined that we should become like our Saviour in our nature and behaviour (Ro.8:29). He is working towards this goal through everything that happens to us (v.28). The thing that hinders this great goal is our free will! If God had created us without a free choice and programmed and re-programmed us at every step we would all have become like Jesus immediately after returning to God from our sins. But because we decide practically at every moment of our life whether we will do God's will or our own, and because we don't always and consistently choose His will, we remain imperfect and mixed up.

When we ask God for patience in our life, do we expect that God will answer that prayer by making it impossible for us to feel impatient in any situation? What happens is that He allows difficult situations to come across our life where we we have to choose to exercise patience! In the same way, do we expect that after we pray, our anger, lust, worry, fear, bitterness, selfishness, pride, etc., will disappear and we won't feel any such thing any more? No, it is only by denying ourselves when we feel such things and choosing to obey God that we will be able to overcome (Ro.8:13) and it is only when this becomes a habit that our nature gets transformed into His.

We follow Jesus as His disciples because we want to be delivered from our sinful ways and become like Him. What we have to do then is to take up our cross daily, put our will on it every time and do what Jesus wants us to do (Lk.9:23).

Of course, when we try to do it we find that we are unable to be consistent every time. We are carrying in us the old sinful nature (which we are supposed to keep crucified - Ga.5:24), we are tempted to do wrong and please ourselves because of the strong desires that are there in our nature (Ja.1:14,15), there are so many temptations all around us in the world (1Jn.2:15,16) and the Devil also is waiting everywhere trying to trip us up (1Pe.5:8). Every failure should draw us closer to God seeking to depend more on His strength, having less and less confidence in ourselves, and hating sin more and more. That is the way forward.

There are some Christians who claim that they have already come into victory through faith. Such people redefine sin and limit it only to certain sinful actions, and when they stop doing them they claim they have victory. But for those who will stand honestly before God's penetrating eyes and acknowledge wherever they have fallen short in deed, thought, intention and attitude, it is a journey and not an event. Towards the end of his life Paul had to say that he had not become perfect (Php.3:12).

Yielding of our will to God every time we are tempted, asking for forgiveness every time we realise we have come short, never giving up when we see we are still far from the goal, and constantly seeking God for help, understanding and strength is the way forward.


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