Why we struggle with Christian Living

Written by On Wednesday, 13 May 2020 10:47
Why we struggle with Christian Living
I have just completed a study on the letter of James, if you have not already seen them, the videos are available on the Saturday PM Facebook page. You can also get them via the link at the end of this blog. One of the things you will notice about the letter is the strong emphasis on godly Christian living. James goes into a lot of trouble giving the early Jewish Christians, a series of easy to understand instructions or commands on how to relate with each other and with God. This study got me thinking about why even when we know how we ought to live and what is a true demonstration of the Christian faith, we still struggle and many times fail.


I am defining successful Christian living as being able to reflect the image of the one whom we are named after. The book of  James brings in the issue of justification by prominently works and I was one of those Christians who at some point really struggled with what James was trying to say. Ultimately we see that James was not disputing anything that Paul wrote but is, in fact, completing and complementing him. We do freely receive the gift of salvation, but that faith is completed by what we do with it. It is because Abraham believed God that he was willing to lay down his son’s life, it is because Rahab believed in God that she was willing to help the messengers.

Ours is not an idle faith.

How do people know that we are of the faith? When we look like Jesus and when we become like Jesus was here on earth. It is something that is seen in addition to being confessed, it is in how we live our lives. First, we have to figure out what that looks like, what Jesus looks like (1John 4:17) and then walk that walk. The Bible, of course, is a great place to start this because it has all the information about Jesus and about this faith that we confess. It is filled with truths and principles about God and what He is about, his agenda and how we become part of that agenda (aka how we live). Searching and studying the scriptures gives us this information, it gives us the facts, it gives us knowledge. This knowledge then needs to be understood and once understood it needs to be followed with action (with works). Which is what James writes about, that’s how James fits into the bigger Bible story.

Many times, knowledge and wisdom are used interchangeably, and the world many times defines wisdom as having a lot of knowledge. But, when we study the scriptures we see that wisdom is not so much about what we know but rather what we do. Who is wise and understanding among you? James asks, “...let him show out of a good lifestyle, his works. (James 3:13). Further down in the same chapter he gives us the definition/attributes of godly wisdom and all of them are actionable and not just thought and known. We see that how we live our lives determines whether or not we are wise.

We get knowledge when we read and search the scriptures, we are wise when we apply what we know. We sometimes apply inaccurately when we know but do not have understanding. The understanding/revelation is the glue that connects what we know and what we do. Lack of knowledge causes a lack of understanding and lack of wisdom. Half-truths or incomplete knowledge yields no understanding and therefore lack of wisdom. Knowledge with no understanding and no revelation also does not lead to wisdom. We have many theologians, many who are constantly pouring their minds over the scriptures for facts and for information as an intellectual exercise and yet do not believe because they lack understanding and therefore cannot do what the Bible says.

Jesus talking to the Jewish leaders said; "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me." John 5:39 and yet many of them still did not see that He was the messiah despite all their searching. For the process to be complete, we must diligently search the scriptures for knowledge, we must pray that we get understanding through teachers of the word and through the Holy Spirit, and then we must do what we have a revelation of. Many of us short circuit this process and then what results is a continuous struggle with sin, frustration with this “Christian life” and sometimes even falling away from the faith. We are trying to do (apply) what we do not understand and what we do not know or what we partially know. 

We say at the Saturday PM that we are building a community of people who learn the word, love the word and live the word. When we sit to listen to a teacher of the word we are going through the learning process- getting the knowledge, the facts, the information. Loving the word cannot happen at the congregation level, it is a personal affair. Sure, your appetite can be whet, but it's only when you sit down with the text in your secret place, when you actively engage with it and with the help of the Holy Spirit that the revelation and understanding comes that you will really love the word of God. It will be your sustenance; food to your hungry soul. It will bring joy to your sorrowing heart and delight you (Jeremiah 15:16). When this happens, living the word will not be a struggle because the word of God will be part and parcel of who you are.  Bible Study is paramount in the walk of faith, but more than just knowing the facts and memorizing scripture we must seek understanding and enlightenment and then with that understanding we must do what we know to do. It is the doer that is blessed (James 1:25).Therefore,one of the many things you can do to help you walk the walk is to follow the knowledge-understanding-wisdom process. Counsel comes in very close to this, but that’s a story for another blog post. 

Proverbs 3:13-14 

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
Proverbs 2:6
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding
Psalm 49:3
My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
Job 32:8
But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding
Ephesians 1:17-18
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened...

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