If you walk through the process of discipleship with enough people, undoubtedly you will hear things like, “man, this is just hard” or “it’s so easy for me to fall”, “I have a hard time with ____”, etc. Maybe you have felt that yourself. Maybe you still feel that way! Basically, detachment from worldly pleasures is often a difficult task for many, and they chalk it up to their lack of willpower to live out the Christian life.
The bible, however, doesn’t seem to indicate that living out the Christian life (a life of holiness, set apart unto God, and detached from worldliness) is a matter of conjuring up the willpower in your own ability. Holiness is a commandment, but it’s also something that the Holy Spirit does in you as you respond to Him (Galatians 5:16-23).
Here is an almost to-simple-to-be-true concept:
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5
It’s a pretty simple concept right? If you have your mind set on the things your flesh desires, that’s what will show up in your life. If you set your mind on what the Spirit desires, then that’s what will show up in your life. You will live out what you put in.
Think about it in regards to natural things. If you never take care of your body, you eat junk food all the time, and you never work out, then it would be pretty hard (maybe impossible) for you to do certain things physically. It’s the same thing spiritually… if you never feed your spirit with the word, you barely pray, and you fill yourself with worldly entertainment, then it would be pretty hard (more like impossible) for you to live out the Christian life.
Fortunately, the opposite is true too. If you renew your mind to think on spiritual things, then you wouldn’t conform any longer to the pattern of this world, and you would be able to test and approve of God’s will (Romans 12:3). If you hide God’s word in your heart, then you wouldn’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). If you delighted yourself in the Lord, then His desires would become your desires (Psalm 37:4).
You’re just weak!
If you feel like “it’s so hard to be a Christian”, the truth is that it’s not hard – you’re just weak. You are weak spiritually, because you are not feeding your spirit. The real question you should be asking yourself is, “why am I not feeding my spirit”. That’s the real issue. Feeding your spirit is essentially just giving yourself to God. Spending time with Him. Seeking His face. Drawing close to Him. The bottom line is that if you are not feeding your Spirit, it’s because you don’t see God as someone worth spending time with. You of coarse would never actually say those words, but if you were brutally honest with yourself, that’s all it is.
When God isn’t your delight
Why do you not see God as someone worth your time? Because you’re not believing the gospel. I’m not saying that if you ever feel this way you’re not a Christian – though for many this may be the case:
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
Though it’s true that many who find it “hard to be a Christian” may feel that way because they are not in-fact Christians, it is also true that many soundly saved followers of Jesus often fall into dry spots where it just seems so hard to live holy, or have the desire to spend time with God. If you are a Christian, and you have a lapse where God is not really your joy, it’s because you are experiencing a slight case of gospel amnesia. You are forgetting the truth of the gospel. You are losing sight of the beauty of Christ in your mind. Faith is a fight! (1 Timothy 6:12) Faith is a gift! (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore if you are experiencing a lull in your Christian life, you need to fight for it, and receive it.
So what do you do?
What you don’t want to do is fall into self pity and condemnation. Condemnation leads to death. Conviction leads to life!
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but wordly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10
What you should do is pray! Pray for forgiveness for allowing other things to be primary in your life.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
After you confess your sins and trust God for forgiveness and purification, pray that God would fan into flame the sparks on your heart. Pray that the gift of faith would rise up inside of you so that you would see Christ as beautiful. This is the “receiving” part, since faith is a gift. But since faith is not just a gift, you must also fight! Fight vigorously for all that would increase faith in your life (namely the Word).
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
Seek His face through the word in daily devotion. Don’t put it down until you know He has spoken, and not just that He has spoken, but that He has spoken to you! Not only should you fight for that which would increase your faith, you should also fight vigorously against anything that would hinder faith from increasing in your life (namely the things of this world).
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17
Heavenly Father, I confess my sins of allowing other things to take precedence in my life over you, and allowing them to steal my devotion and attention away from you. Thank you for the forgiveness and the cleansing that’s available through Christ! Help me to see Jesus as the most precious treasure in all the universe. Help me to see the beauty of the gospel. God, I pray that as I read your word you would speak clearly and specifically to me. I pray that as I continue in your word, you would increase my faith! Help me to stay on course, and not get sidetracked by the things of this world. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!