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I write this article as a fellow pilgrim on a journey of faith desiring to encourage others. God reminds me of the many blessings that He has graciously given me. Yet, I find myself daily fighting against disillusionment, despair, and anxiety at times. I don’t live in a monastery or in a cave apart from others, though this idea is becoming more appealing for me.
We seek joy, hope, peace, and love in Christ, but often find discouragement, disappointment, and difficulty as we walk along life’s path. This article will explore the root of the problem, explain why we must die to self to follow Christ, briefly explore God’s nature, and consider the dangers of self-righteousness and religion.
The Root of the Problem
The root of our issue(s) is obvious: all of creation and every person is touched and burdened by sin. The book of Romans teaches us that all of creation “groans” under the weight of the curse of sin. We know that there is no perfect relationship, career, or life situation that will fully satisfy our hearts and deepest desires. Our lives are filled with moments of joy, peace, and hope; but also seasons of grief, loss, and struggle. We long for what we can’t possibly find in ourselves or in other people. This explains much of the misery and foolishness of the perishing souls in our sin-stained world.
Not only do we suffer because of evil done to us, but we also inflict suffering on others. No matter how diligently we strive to be better, we always fall short in our “self improvement” plans. We have to battle our own sinful nature and all the forces of evil that come against us. Sometimes it feels like life is just one unending desperate struggle. Discouragement is an unwelcome guest on this journey.
The Gospel Means Death to Self
If you are serious about walking with God, understand that you will experience trials and tribulations. God’s Word makes this clear. God sends trials to purify and sanctify us! To follow Christ means to die to self. There is no other way to follow Jesus. The Gospel is Good News, but only for those who recognize just how sinful and unworthy they are before a Perfect, Holy, Righteous God. Consider that God hates sin to the extent to separate all the unrepentant evil ones from His presence for all of eternity. Hell is a real place that Jesus mentions over seventy times!
No one deserves to be saved, nor is anyone worthy to be saved. We all deserve death and eternal separation from God (Romans). There are no “naturally” good people. Salvation comes through God’s grace (unmerited favor) not through our works or self-righteousness. The Gospel saves and it condemns. The path to God is a narrow and hard one! Have you died to self and followed Christ? Are you trusting in His grace?
Considering the True Nature of God
Often we are afraid or unwilling to be honest before God. We sometimes act as if He doesn’t know our situations, thoughts, and feelings. We forget that God is Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent.
Considering God’s nature helps us to focus on Him when things aren’t going well. Take a moment to check out the links above and praise Him for His Goodness!
Follies of Self-Righteousness and Religion
We are tempted to be religious or good by our own human efforts. We make up our own rules and thoughts about God while attempting to “appease” and follow God. Do you think that you can earn God’s love or grace? Are you trying to live a good life and do good things so He will love or bless you more?
Self-righteousness causes us to view ourselves as being “better” or superior to others due to our own made up self-righteous concepts. We foolishly think that we are okay if we can be”better” than others who sin or live in a particular way. Jesus’ harshest words in the Gospels were reserved for the self-righteous. Consider the “woes” of Luke 11:37-54:
Religion is all about our ideas and works instead of trusting and obeying Him. Religion is a subtle trap that leads to destruction. Remember that it was the sinners and outcasts in First century Jewish society that recognized and responded to Christ in faith. It was the religious and political leaders who demanded that the Romans crucify the Messiah.
Where is God when terrible things happen? Why is it that often when we are seeking God fervently, do we feel most distant from Him? Why doesn’t God just send Jesus back and make everything right? Why is life at times a bitter struggle against ourselves and others?
Why does God not step in and save us from the evil things of this world that harm us? Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for the early Christians who were tortured, and publicly executed? What about the people of history who sought God and were persecuted for telling the truth? Is following Jesus through a life of faith really worth it?
These hard questions will arise when you dare to follow God and step out in faith. Faith is a journey of many steps. Join me as I write about various hard things that you will face in your journey. Next post will deal with the experience of disillusionment. May God increase your faith and courage as you face the hard things!
For His Glory and through His ministry to me, I write these words