Failing your way to success

Christianity is a religion where it’s good to know you’re a failure.

That’s because you’ll fail as long as you think you can succeed at the Christian life on your own strength.

It took decades at failing before I had a “eureka” moment in reading about the “exchanged life” – basically, I died with Christ on the cross when I put my faith in him and rose with him to a new life, the life of Christ (Galatians 2:20).

The apostle Paul says in Romans 8:2: “And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

In other words, I can choose not to sin regularly because the life of Christ in me  – through the Holy Spirit – gives me the power to live like Jesus.

We in our church have been listening to an excellent series by American pastor and author Andy Stanley called “Free” which is all about this freedom from the power of sin.  Stanley says flat out that we can’t succeed in living the Christian life without relying on the power of God.

It takes a while for the whole idea of this dependence on Christ to sink in.  In our minds, we accept that this is the truth.  But we find it hard to live that way.  At least, I tend to lose my grasp of this truth in everyday life.

It is a major step forward just realizing that we can’t live like Jesus without God’s help.  Once we do, we are open to Paul’s message in Romans and Galatians.

Watchman Nee, a great Chinese Christian from the 20th century, says in his book The Life that Wins that we must begin by letting go and saying “O God, I cannot overcome, neither do I will to overcome, nor will I try to overcome.”  Sounds pretty drastic, doesn’t it?

But the second step is praying, “Lord, hereafter I commit all to you; from now on, you will do everything for me,” says Nee.

Then, after doing this, we must believe that “Christ is the only one left in us.”  This is a Biblical fact – Christ lives in us. We must believe that our old self spiritually died with Christ on the cross and our spirit is now filled with the Son of God.

As Stanley says in the final episode of his series “Free”, Jesus makes very clear in John 15 that the secret to living a fruitful Christian life is remaining in Christ – giving everything we have over to him so that he can work through us.

It’s not something I can force myself to do.  I must simply invite the Holy Spirit to make it real to me – and live it.

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2 comments so far

  1. Linda M-N on

    Currently reading “Immortal Diamond” by Richard Rohr who very much supports the idea of “emptying, failing” in order to transform. Unity versus duality, – enjoying both yourself and God as good and as united. Timely posting for me, Bob. Thanks, Linda

  2. Robert Douglas on

    Thanks, Linda.


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