Why do you try so hard . . . .

. . . to be what you already are?

The Christian life is supposed to be a life of rest.  So when does that start?

I have enjoyed the bumper sticker that says, “Are we having fun yet?”  I think it should be on the cars parked at almost all churches.

If you listen to most preachers, the message of the gospel seems to be that we should strive to be something we are not.  We should work harder to become good Christians, to be righteous or holy.  We should do more to be accepted by God.  We are given formulas, techniques, things to do to make ourselves worthy.  And, just about the time you think you have put together the right kind of life, someone comes along with more.

In other words, most of the people who attend churches on Sunday hear that they should try very hard to become what Christ has already made them.

You see, those who are in Christ are already holy, already righteous, already good.  I understand that your daily life doesn’t seem to measure up to the image of someone who is holy, but those actions are the results of bad habits, not of who you are.  You are holy and good.

There is a big difference between changing what you do and changing who you are.  If you see yourself as a sinner, as a broken person who continues to fail the requirements of God, then you will fail.  Over and over.  How can you change who you are?  But you can change what you do, especially if you believe you are a person different from what that action or attitude indicates.

Example: You look around your house and you believe that you are messy.  You tell yourself that you are disorganized and irresponsible and addicted to stuff.  As long as you believe that’s who you are, then you will have the problem.  No matter how much you pick up or clean up, a messy person will just be messy again.  But when you look at yourself and see that you are organized and can be responsible and that you are content without buying or collecting all that stuff, then you can change your habits and be free.  This is simply a motivational technique.

The problem comes when we have been told so often that we are nothing but dirty rotten sinners, in bondage to our evil actions.  When we hear that every Sunday morning and read it in our devotionals and talk about it with other failing believers, then how can we change?  We don’t want to be such terrible sinners, but we have no choice.  No matter what we do, the preacher still preaches to us the same way.

What the preacher may not understand is that Jesus has given you His life.  You died and now you live in Him.  He is your righteousness and you have the same goodness as He does.  That’s who you are.  Sure, you may need to change your behavior, but you aren’t set up for failure from the beginning.  If the preacher told you every Sunday that you were a new creation in Christ, pure and holy and good, you may actually start to believe it and live like it is true.

We will live out our days according to the pattern of the person we believe ourselves to be.  We know that.  But we can’t change the person we are.  Only Jesus can do that.  And all of those who belong to Him have already been changed.

Don’t spend your time and energy trying to become something you already are.  Instead, live who you are.


Filed under Freedom, grace, Relationship

9 responses to “Why do you try so hard . . . .

  1. Thanks for this post. I wrote a poem on the same theme, “It Became to Me a Dark Thing” which you can find here: http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2010/07/became-to-me-dark-thing-poem.html

  2. awesome truth!

    “why are we following Jesus to become like Him”

    when we already are like Him?

    @”Don’t spend your time and energy trying to become
    something you already are. Instead, live who you are.”

    well said.

    I couldn’t get over what Paul said “let us labor to enter the rest”

    my own version would be

    “You Lazy fellow. Get Up and Rest”

    – grace and peace

  3. Kelly

    “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” 🙂

  4. Suzanne

    I have been thinking a lot about this post and have 2 questions:
    1. I am confused, am I depraved or holy?
    2. I have heard in church a lot that in order to realize how much God loves you, you have to realize how terrible you are. So there is a lot of emphasis on seeing our sin. I feel like the only way I can get God to love me or to get His attention is to grovel over my sin. This doesn’t sound like what you are describing. But I am not sure where I am wrong. What am I missing?

    • Kelly has said it well, but I will add my two cents. First, you are holy! How do I know that? Because Jesus is holy and the life in you is His. You were depraved (although I struggle a little with some definitions people use) because there was nothing you could do to make yourself holy. But Jesus exchanged your old life for His new life. Your old life is gone. You remember it and you still think in some of the same ways, but it is gone. If you were to die right now, the new life would be the only life found in you.

      Second, it may be appropriate to remember how terrible you were, but why focus on that old life? Some of the teachers accept the idea that God loves us, but they still find a way to manipulate us by saying that we don’t deserve His love and maybe, just maybe, He will stop if we don’t measure up. It’s the same old lie, just disguised. The truth is that we don’t “get God to love” us. He just does. It is because of Him, not because of us. Groveling won’t make Him love us more, it just robs us of the joy of being loved.

      • Suzanne

        Thank you, Kelly, what you said makes sense and helped. I like the idea that confessing sins is not works. And by the way, congrats on your wedding!
        Dave, your explanation of the old life being exchanged for the new life makes salvation so much bigger than just being forgiven of sins so you can go to heaven. I don’t think I realized how much salvation actually changed my identity. What you are teaching seems very important. It really changes everything.

  5. Kelly

    Suzanne, if this helps? : we all come to Christ as depraved lost sinners. He saves us if we ask Him to forgive our sins and indwell us. At that point on you are a SAINT no matter what your practice looks like because you are then in the sanctification process. We DO have to acknowledge our sins by first admitting we are sinners than after salvation, we confess sin because we desire to continue in the sanctification process which again Christ does in us. It is not works to confess sin. We enter into REST with Jesus from works and our new man desires holiness. Unsaved = depraved Saved= Justified I hope that makes sense. Dave probably has a way better way of explaining it, but I just wanted to share as a part of discussion. Blessings to you 🙂

  6. So perfect for me tonight. Thank you so much.:-)

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