I have been reading lately from Hannah Whitall Smith, a woman who was born into a Quaker home and after marriage got involved in the holiness movement. She wrote many books about how to get the reality of our salvation into our daily lives. The following quote is from her autobiography, The Unselfishness of God: My Spiritual Autobiography.
“It (The Quaker teaching) urged holiness of life, but failed to tell the secret by which this holiness was to be attained. It emphasized the word “ought” but overlooked the word “how.” And hungry souls, reaching out after the beautiful ideal of a holy life which was set before them, were left without any definite teaching of how to reach it. The one foundation need of “How” remained unanswered.
It is the same in these days. Church leaders tell you many things you “should” do and emphasize that you should just do it. You are not a Christian, so you should be able to do it. There is some truth in this because we don’t to “nothing”, but at the same time, there is little instruction on “how to” do what you are told to do. This is why I also feel called to be a “how to” teacher.
Current Christianity is far too focused on human effort; you keep being urged to try harder and make new, stronger resolutions to improve and overcome areas of your life. If you go to church regularly, the pastor comes up with something new every week that you “should be” doing but you aren’t yet doing. If you are sincere and want to please God, this leaves you feeling overwhelmed and lacking. It can even make you feel that God is not pleased with you because of all of the things you are not yet doing as well as the things are are doing that you should be doing. This is not why Jesus came!!!!!
It is true that changes need to be made in our lives, but many of us year after year, try again and again to get our lives conformed to what we are told a Christian should be like – but find little actual change happening, or if we do change, it is only temporary. We must be doing something wrong.
I am one of those who loves God and truly wants to please Him. I have been diligent for over 40 years trying to put into practice what I have been taught. In many ways I have not been successful. Many areas of my life have not changed despite the extreme effort I have put into it. Do I hide them in shame or try to find the answer as to why? I am a truth seeker. I am a problem solver. So I seek the answers!!!
I believe there are two main reasons for this:
The first reason, I think, is that I wasn’t taught to deal with things at the root. We were taught that receiving salvation is the total answer to everything wrong in our lives. It is true that He gave me a new life. My spirit man is born again. But there are more parts to me. I am spirit, soul and body. I need to learn how to apply salvation to these areas.
So I just kept working on the outward problems. This is dealing with the symptoms of a disease rather that curing the root problem. It is like mowing a lawn to keep the grass under control. As long as you mow it, it looks good. But if you really want the lawn removed, you will have to dig it up by the roots and replace it with something else. If you really want the disease healed, you have to get to the root cause first.
I have been learning more about this in recent years and working deeper into my own life with the help of the Lord to remove the roots of things that have kept causing outward behavior I don’t like and don’t want. I will be posting more of how to deal with heart issues as times goes on.
But today I want to focus on the other reason I see why true change doesn’t come as we desire.
I have been working mostly in my own strength, trying harder again and again, almost feeling like God was watching and waiting for me to finally overcome the problems in my life so He can bless me, but the complete victory has always eluded me somehow.
The Lord wants to be more a part of my efforts. If we could have lived victoriously without Him, in our own power, Jesus wouldn’t have had to come and die for our sins. He didn’t just die to forgive our sins, but to give us power to actually, in real life overcome the things that hinder us and drag us down.
I decided to look into scripture. How does true change come? I have been taught if you can find two or three witnesses, you can be assured it is true. I was amazed to find far more than two. If you want to change and be transformed, take the time to look up these scriptures for yourself. Read the context around them. Look up references. Take them as true and make them part of your life.
When we do things God’s way, as shown us in scripture (not tradition), we will get God’s results.
Scripture on His Strength VS Mine
- Without Him (cut off from vital union with Him) I can do nothing (John 15:5).
- As I have received Christ (through faith in His grace, faith in what HE has done) I should be walking with Him (Colossians 2:6).
- It is foolish to begin my new life in the Spirit and try to reach perfection by dependence on the flesh (Galatians 3:3).
- I don’t work out my salvation in my own strength, for it is God who is working in me giving me the desire and power to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:12-13).
- Christ dwells in my heart through faith and strengthens me in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16-17).
- I can do all things only through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). This isn’t just a verse we say; it is about a real connection with a living Savior who lives in us and actually strengthens us as we trust in Him.
- It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in Him WHO LOVED ME and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20).
- It is of Him that I have my life in Him. He is made to me wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). How is He made my sanctification? The life I live in the body is by faith in Him.
- It is He who sanctifies me (sets me apart and makes me holy and consecrated) completely, spirit soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). He doesn’t just sanctify our sprit and soul (mind, will, emotions) but also our body.
- He is the Author and Finisher of my faith. I can lay aside every weight and sin only by looking to Him (Hebrews 12:1-2).
- It is He who equips me with all I need for doing His will and produces in me what is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 13:20-21).
- By the grace of God I am what I am, but I labor with the grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).
- I labor, striving according to HIS working which works in me (Colossians 1:29). I do labor I do work, but my work are only effective when I work with His grace and strive according to His power which works in me.
- My victory is not by might or power but by His Spirit who lives in me (Zechariah 4:6).
- My soul waits in silence for God only, for from Him only comes my salvation (Psalm 62:1)
- Cease striving, let go, relax, and know… that I am God. I will be exalted… (Psalm 46:10).
- In returning and rest I find my salvation. My strength is not in my striving or trying harder but in quietness and trust (Isaiah 30:15).
- I have entered into His rest and rest from my own works (Hebrews 4:10-11).
- I commit my way to the Lord; I roll and repose each care of my load on Him. I trust in Him and He will bring it to pass (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 37:5).
- I’m not saved by a mighty army or my great strength. The Lord is looking for me to fear Him and hope in His mercy (Psalm 22:15-18).
- By my own weapons I don’t possess the land; my own strength doesn’t save me. It His strength and presence. It is through Him I push back my adversaries and through His name I trample down those who rise up against me. I trust Him not me (Psalm 44:3-8)
- The Lord will perfect what concerns me and work out His plans for my life (Psalm 138:8).
- I cry out to the Lord and He performs on my behalf and brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them (Psalm 57:2 – Amplified).
- I am inwardly transformed by a total reformation of how I think (Romans 12:2 (TPT).
So the focus isn’t on trying harder to change ourselves; it is on Jesus.
Getting to know Him, learning to walk in His power, and listening to and implementing His personal instruction for our lives is what will lead us into personal victory over the areas we want to change.
Jesus is the Savior not us. He is our Savior over sin in all aspects. We can all walk in His victory – but only through Him. Jesus is not only the Savior from the penalty of sin but from its power in our daily lives.
How does it work? Through fellowship with Him. He works with us to work out our salvation.