Tuesday, April 11, 2017

“Strong In the Lord”

"Strong In the Lord"                      
  I recently read a message by a popular Christian author who addressed the matter of our human weaknesses.  He rightly depicted the challenges we face in living the Christian life, particularly in times of great trouble.  I agreed with much of what he wrote, and would even suggest that he did not go far enough in describing how weak we actually are.  
   "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin" (Romans 8:10).

   Note that the problem for even born again believers involves far more than weakness.  We are actually "dead" in terms of independently doing the will of God or living in a manner our Lord defines as life.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).  Thus, I concur with the basic intent of the author referenced, at least as far as he went in addressing the matter of our need for God's grace and enabling.  

   I do, however, have a problem with what the well-meaning gentleman wrote.  As proper as it is to acknowledge human weakness, our Heavenly Father would not have us dwell on our need.  In the Romans passage above, the Apostle Paul proceeds to encourage great confidence in our Christ-enabled capacity to live in a manner pleasing to God and beneficial to ourselves and others.

   "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:10-11).

   Acknowledgment of weakness is meant to serve not as a stopover, but rather as s springboard to trust the Lord and acknowledge His empowering presence in our hearts. The New Testament record does not leave the Lord Jesus in His tomb after the cross.  Nor does it leave believers in the grave of our human weakness.  The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now dwells in us to enliven our human faculties for the empowerment of faith and faithfulness.  Any teaching that fails to emphasize the enabling of God as our "strength made perfect in weakness" inevitably leads to failure and an excuse-laden form of Christianity that fails to meet the test of Biblical authenticity (II Corinthians 12:9).  God does not call His children to make bricks without straw.  He rather inhabits and enables us as the very Life of our lives.  "I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me" (Philippians 4:19).

   Our Heavenly Father is compassionate regarding our human weakness.  "He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14).  He does not coddle us, however.  Nor does He accept excuses regarding our failure to access His abundant enabling to live in accordance with His will.  Moreover, the Lord calls us to "exhort one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13).  We should encourage and challenge one another to remember the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit whereby we presently possess "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).  Our weakness is real, and must be acknowledged.  However, the Lord never called us to live in accordance with our own strength.  "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).  The risen life of the Lord Jesus supplies our capacity for living as God commands.  "I cannot!  I can!  Through Christ!  This is the Christian life, or rather the life of Christ as revealed in us by grace through faith.

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him"
(I John 4:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
(Ephesians 1:3)

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