Day 209 - No-hopers?
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature.
—II CORINTHIANS 5:17
Yes, we have become something new, different, and unique. We have received a new nature, and old desires have passed away. Our lives as Christians now naturally follow the commands of Christ without effort. We know this to be true, but has it been the experience of the average believer? Has it been our experience? Or is such a life—a daily following of Christ without effort—only reserved for the lucky few?
So often, by all appearances, the normal Christian life is not one of new desire but a constant battle against the old, one in which dissatisfaction over our inability to “be Christian” increases. Yet we are still told that we are new creations. How can we born-again, new creatures, with our old men crucified with Christ, continue to struggle with the habits, failures, sins, depression, and frustrations of the past? Does our struggle reveal something wrong with us or with our conversion? Does it show we need something else? Are we lacking a particular “spiritual experience”? Are we truly committed? Do we spend enough time in the Word?
On the contrary, take heart. The struggle reveals something right in you! It proves you are a new creation with new desires! Struggle is the proof of being born again!
Praise God that you struggle! Let me explain.
I met with a small group of men from varying denominations and opened the meeting with a question. “Would you be comfortable wearing a dress, high-heels, nylons, and a wig for one week? What if you had no choice in the matter?” I jokingly stated that if they were comfortable in women’s clothes, I was taking appointments for individual counseling sessions. However, all the men agreed they would be uncomfortable . . . very uncomfortable! Why? Their wives were not uncomfortable in such attire. The answer was really quite simple. For a man to wear women’s clothes goes against the male nature, causing a struggle and great discomfort. The fact is, we learn much more about our nature from what we struggle against than from our victories. The struggle against temptation says more about our nature than what we do daily without thinking about it.
Before you accepted Christ as Savior, did you struggle with immorality, lying, slander, and sedatives, or were these things quite natural for you? Before I became a Christian the greatest struggle I had concerning sin was the nagging thought that I may not get as much of it as I wanted. After Christ entered my life, I began to struggle with what at one time was perfectly natural for me. The struggle revealed a change. In fact, the depth of conversion is revealed by the intensity of struggles. Many assert that the proof of conversion comes in the form of feelings, voices, and miracles. Yet often overlooked is struggle as an absolute standard for conversion and commitment.
You can know, then, if your nature has changed by observing the behavior, attitudes, and sin against which you struggle. Most believe the opposite, that if they have struggled since their new birth, it is proof positive something is wrong with them. Struggle instead reveals that something is right with you, that you have been changed.