You Can’t Live the Christian Life!

Yes, you read the title correctly.  You cannot live the Christian life.  I will even go you one better than that:  You were never meant to.  Some of the greatest freedom you will ever experience will come once you finally get that settled in your thinking.

Free

Before you get ready to blog about me being some sort of heretic, let me share with you something the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ESV

According to what Paul writes here, true Christianity is living by the life of Another.

Two Trees

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9  ESV 

We sometimes forget there were two trees in the garden of Eden.  Of these two trees, God only prohibited man from partaking of one of them (Genesis 2:16 – 17).  Why was this?  Because the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represented a life lived independent of God in which man would come up with his own conclusions as to what was right and what was wrong.  Living independent of God results in death on every level.  Besides that, when we leave God out of the picture we will always come up with the wrong conclusions about life. Two-plus-two suddenly ends up working out to six instead of four!

The Tree of Life

There were no prohibitions on the tree of life.  I believe the Lord fully intended for man to partake of the tree of life. Once he did, man would live in full union with God, processing life from His perspective and filling the earth with His glory.  Unfortunately, this is not how things worked out.  The Lord then had to block the way to the tree of life so man would not eat of it and live forever in his sinful condition (Genesis 3:22 – 24).

So What?

What does this have to do with us today?  Everything!  Through more than thirty years of ministry I have watched countless numbers of Christians (myself included) striving to live out what they felt the Lord required, all in their own strength.  It’s like they have this list of rules somewhere in the back of their minds regarding what good Christians (interesting term) “do” or “don’t do.”  They strive desperately to live up to the standard (which somehow seems to change according to who they are currently listening to) only to end up confused, frustrated, and defeated.  The spontaneous, free flowing, joy filled life pictured in the New Testament seems like some sort of pipe dream; completely out of reach and unattainable.  This results from them trying to live according to their own definitions of right and wrong instead of living from the life of God within them.

The good news is this:  the Christian life doesn’t have to be joyless and frustrating.  All you have to do is learn to live from the right tree. The next several posts will be devoted to helping you do that.  Stay tuned!

2 comments

  1. Hi Mac, hey, your short discourse on the impossibility of living the so-called “Christian life” by self-effort was very liberating, like a breath of fresh air or a drink of cool water. Seems like before we can transition over from a self-centered life of independent defiance, to one of Christ-centered unity in the Spirit, we must quite literally wear ourselves out trying to be “good people”. How liberating it was the moment I quit trying to achieve my own righteousness and yielded to Christ’s original propitiation for my sins- only then did I realize that only Jesus could live out His own life in me. It made all the difference.

    God is blessing you,
    Tim

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