"I am just human."
"We can't live like that we live in a sinful world."
"That is just who I am!"
How many times do we use excuses to justify our behavior? How many times do we allow that way things ARE to guide our understanding of the way things can BE?
Why is it many churches point constantly to the fact that "we all fall short," which we do, but fail to recognize Jesus' words, "Go and sin no more"?
So what is reality when it comes to my life as a disciple? Is reality the way things are? Or, is reality the way God says they can and should be?
Paul says we are "more than conquerors," and yet we often live defeated, sinful lives that make excuses for our behavior. We are better at justifying our sinful behaviors than we are at living a justified life. If we are not careful we reduce salvation to reconciliation (forgiveness of sins and a restored relationship with God) and forget about regeneration (God work in and through us to transform us into the character of Christlikeness).
Regeneration is hard work.
Yes, God provides grace to transform us, but we are responsible to put ourselves in a position to receive that grace. The "means of grace" include worship, fellowship, service, solitude, silence, Scripture reading, Scripture memorization, prayer, journaling, fasting, etc., etc. (There is no definitive list of spiritual disciplines or practices.) Dallas Willard says, "Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort."
When we "accept Christ" we are not only seeking forgiveness, we are making a statement that we believe that doing life in the way of Christ is the way to live. The "Sinner's Prayer" just doesn't cut it. We can't make a decision for Christ simply because we don't want to go to hell or because we want to go to heaven. When we accept Christ we accept the life and mission of Christ as our own, and our responsibility is to use the resources of the Church throughout the centuries to foster the Christlike life in ourselves. As we "do" the disciplines and practices of the faith God gives grace to do and be more than we could on our own.
I believe that our participation in the spiritual disciplines is like a training course in the holy life. We are not seeking simply to comply with Jesus' commands, we want to train ourselves to be the kind of people that live obediently because we are different. If I try to comply with Jesus' teaching to "turn the other cheek" this can lead to anger, bitterness, and legalism. But, if I become the kind of person who has the character of Christ, then I obediently live out the command to "turn the other cheek." One way is strict adherence to rules which can (and has) lead to legalism. The other way is obedience to Christ because of who we have become on the inside.
Through fasting, I learn that I don't have to give in to every whim and fancy of my desire.
Through Scripture, I learn the words of Christ, and God's message.
Through silence and solitude, I find that I am not that important. I also get away from the rush and hurry of life to "be still and know" God. I get rid of the "noise" in my life so I can hear God's voice.
Through journaling, I see God's hand at work.
Through prayer, I commune with God. I learn to discover His movements.
Through memorization, I internalize the Word of God and then I can meditate on it "day and night."
Everyone is "training" themselves to be something both in their activities in certain areas and their inactivity in certain areas.
What are you "training" to be in Christ?