Losing My Life
Updated: Mar 12
The title of this blog pays tribute to a blog written many years ago by a woman I used to know. She had a teacher anointing on her hands and in her mouth, she was amazing. She was also young, insecure, and immature (she reminded me of myself). Family circumstances forced her to grow up too fast and she'd spent most of her 20-something years of life serving the church community in some capacity.
By the time our friendship ended, the young woman had befriended an atheist and found herself intrigued by his worldview - a worldview she'd never known and never had the opportunity to explore. She was also conflicted over whether it was sinful to drink alcohol and not attend church. After hearing some of her "church hurt" experiences, I knew she was struggling. However, my encouragement was not well received since my conviction about such things was firmly decided before I knew her, and I wasn't budging.
Ultimately, I think she remained on the Jesus-track. To my knowledge, she married a believer and is now living somewhere in Colorado.
Death to the flesh
There is no warfare like that between the soul and the Spirit. Not even the devil and his demons - for all their manipulation, instigation, and destruction - are a match for our own stubborn, prideful, defiant nature. At any given time, humans can choose or be persuaded to go against God's way of doing things, even after knowing Him for many years.
While we don't know how much time went by in the Garden before Eve touched the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, it is evident she fully knew the voice of God. When the serpent sparked a conversation with Eve, she was able to directly quote what the Lord told her and her husband. Although the devil deceived her, the Bible still says Eve reasoned within herself (meaning she considered, determined, concluded) that God was holding out on good fruit. Adam willfully followed her into sin (see Gen. 2-3).
Although the Tree of Life stood a few yards away from Adam and Eve, they chose to go against their Creator's commandment, taking matters into their own hands...and here we are.
Living and dying in Christ
No one can honestly say they've never been tempted, offended, "gone off" on someone, or avoided responsibility in this life. Paul's wrestling match in Romans 7:14-25 reveals an enemy every believer must encounter and conquer. While studying this passage, I was able to discern the difference between struggling with the flesh and struggling against the flesh:
struggling with the flesh: there remains more love for an attitude, a habit, an addiction, or lifestyle than there is love for God; the fruit of compromise is still hanging on; there are no feelings of guilt or remorse for sin; it's entirely possible this person is not born again (see 1 Jn. 1:6-7, 2:4-6)
struggling against the flesh: despite temptation and strong urges to go backward, this person remains sinless by the power of the Holy Spirit; repentance is sincere; the fruit of obedience is produced; this person is likely born again (see 2 Cor. 1:10)
Battles against the flesh are sometimes lost. When this happens, it's imperative we respond to the Holy Spirit's conviction since we know He always leads us to repentance and life. When we're saved, we're like Christ: fully born of the Spirit and fully human at the same time - of course, His human nature was not from Adam, so there was no sin in Him. As for us, when we fail in Romans 7, we can keep reading into Romans 8. True sons and daughters of God ultimately win the war against the flesh, the world, and the devil (see 1 Jn. 5:4)!
The greatest deception I've encountered on my journey to heaven are sermons I've heard and people I've met who sum up the entirety of Christian theology and salvation with a quick prayer and good church attendance. Praying Bible verses and attending services are right things to do. However, there is no power in the "sinner's prayer" to regenerate the human spirit (that power belongs to the Holy Spirit according to John 3:3). Also, Hebrews 10:25 is neither the first nor the highest priority in keeping covenant with God.
A personal relationship with the Lord primarily comes by faith. If faith is like breathing, then our ability to inhale and exhale comes by reading, praying, fasting, and obeying His Word. This is Abrahamic faith - a faith that precedes the Law of Moses, the priesthood of Levi, and maintaining the Temple. Yet, gathering corporately is God's will (along with Communion and water baptism). Vertical fellowship with God always supersedes and includes horizontal fellowship with believers. All these things are required but they should be taught and practiced in the correct order. No exchanges, no substitutes.
Following Christ is the most difficult thing anyone can do since hope in eternal rewards often means forfeiting immediate pleasures. Submissive, disciplined, committed believers understand this walk is wholly about living sacrifices (see Rom. 12:1-2). Biblical Christianity costs us everything and we will lose our life when we do this thing God's way (see Matt. 16:24-26).