For the first twenty years of my Christian walk I thought the greatest enemy to a successful Christian life was the devil. I believed that if I could keep myself from certain sins that the devil would throw my way, then I would be victorious. Therefore I developed a system of rules and standards that would keep me on the straight and narrow. I figured if I could combine that with faithful church attendance, tithing and daily Bible reading, then I would be able to overcome the devil.
After years of striving to measure up to a self-produced standard of performance and rule keeping, I realized that I was attempting to develop my own standard of self-righteousness. It was a standard that God never intended for any child of His to maintain. God in His mercy allowed me to experience a crash and burn experience that I call brokenness.
As a result, I had a major “coming to the end of myself” moment. For the first time in my life I realized that the real battle was a battle for control. My battle was not with the devil, but was with God. I wanted to be the captain of my own spiritual destiny. I wanted to prove my love for God by good performance. I wanted to measure up to what I perceived God wanted me to be or become.
Somewhere along the way I missed a major tenet in the teaching of God’s grace. On the cross God had provided my righteousness in Christ. I didn’t need to measure up to some standard or adopt a set of rules to earn God’s favor. I learned that the cross is not only the place where Jesus died and paid my sin debt, but it is also where He died to set me free from myself.
Picture it this way. There are two aspects of the cross. One aspect is Jesus died to save me from my sin condition (Romans 5:8). The other aspect of the cross is that Jesus died to save me from myself (Galatians 2:20). In other words, God never intended for us to go it alone and develop our own system of righteousness. God’s intention for us is not “I will do my best and then call on Him if I need His help”. But God’s intention for us from the beginning of our Christian walk is to surrender the control of our life to Christ and allow Him to live His live through us. It is not Jesus and me make a majority. It is Christ in me, living His life through me, and guiding me in all the affairs of life. The proper view of the Christian life is reflected in the following verse.
“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
Notice what God has done for us when we decided to become a follower of Christ. Before I was in Christ I was living for me. But now since my old man has been put to death (crucified), I am a new person. I no longer attempt to live life on my own, by and for myself, but I now live with Christ as the center, director and initiator of my life.
I have discovered over the years that there are many believers who were just like me. They have a genuine love for God. They are sincere in their faith, but struggled in their walk with God. No matter how hard they try to live a successful Christian life, they feel as if they never measured up.
The battle is not a battle of trying to measure up, but the battle is for control. If you are struggling in your walk with God, let go. You are battling God rather than drawing on what He has already done for you. When you became a believer, He delivered you from the need to prove your love for God by good performance. He implanted you with the very life of Christ and given you the Holy Spirit to direct your steps. And as a result of living by faith you will produce good works and spiritual fruit. As Galatians 2:20 teaches us, “the life I now live… I live by faith.”
Our life is to be lived trusting the living Christ within us to guide and to direct every area of our life. So stop struggling, kicking and trying to measure up in your own strength. Surrender your rights and expectations to Him and allow Christ to manifest His life through you.
Here is a simple prayer that may help.
“Dear Lord I am tired of trying to measure up. I confess my sin of living my life in my own strength. I surrender my rights, my expectations and the control of my life to you. I will trust that the living Christ in me makes me complete and acceptable to you. Just as I have received Christ as my Savior, I now receive Him as my life.”
“For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form and in Him you have been made complete.” (Colossians 2:9-10)