As I was doing at the time I last posted, I am reading from Gonzalez’s book, The Story of Christianity, and this past week I have been studying about the life of the monks. It is difficult for me to understand how the monks rationalized their views regarding abstaining from the passions of the flesh and the command to fill the earth. If everyone had that view, and was able to adhere to it or kill those passions altogether, well, I guess the earth would most likely be empty today. Wouldn’t you think?
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, because I truly respect the monks and their desire to grow in godliness to the point that they were willing to suffer for Christ, give up comforts and attempt to train their selves in godliness. Most of us Christians today could put less emphasis on material comforts and be less quick to gratify our flesh if we truly desire to be ready to follow Christ wherever He may lead us.
However, I am convinced that the monks’ actions, although perhaps out of a radical love for Jesus, were still misplaced. Their behavior really reminds me of those who do not truly understand the gospel of grace. You know what I am talking about – those who are constantly trying to be better and do more; thinking if they can make themselves better, then they will be more pleasing to God or live closer to Him. Although I am all about training ourselves in godliness according to the Scripture (1 Timothy 4:7-8), I also realize that we are all His workmanship and He is the only one who can perfect us. Our salvation started by grace and we walk it out in grace. I know that regardless what I do – regardless of my failures or successes, He loves me and accepts me just the same. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me anymore. Why? Because…when God sees me, He sees that I am covered by the blood of Christ! When I fail, He doesn’t love me any less. He still sees me as a new creation IN CHRIST. When Christ restored my relationship with God – it was a FINISHED work. So, that means that I am fully accepted RIGHT NOW! Because the old me died with Christ and the new me, well… I now live in Christ! I am no longer my own hope of glory; Christ is my hope of glory! It seems to me that the monks did not understand all that Christ had accomplished for them! We are in relationship with God and when we spend time with Him on a regular basis, He changes us from the inside out.
The monks were trying to change themselves. How exhausting!
To train ourselves in godliness requires us to believe God concerning what Christ has done for us. Focus on Christ and His glory, spending time with Him, instead of focusing on ourselves and trying so hard to fix our shortcomings. He will fix us. I do not need to flog my flesh and all of that. Praise the Lord! We need self- control and discipline – yes. But that self-control is a fruit of the spirit that flows from relationship! Grace – it truly is amazing!
Learning more about God’s love for us through understanding the doctrines of the cross will remove condemnation and strengthen our walk with God. Our acceptance has been sealed by the blood of Christ. Our love for Him grows as we comprehend and receive His love for us, and obedience is simply a by-product of that! At least, that is my understanding of the gospel, and that is how it has worked for me!
Do you struggle with guilt feelings; feelings of rejection, shame or failure? Do you feel like you deserve to be punished? Are you weary trying so hard to live the Christian life? If you are in Christ, you don’t have to feel this way. Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ.” Receive His love and finished work at the cross and discover a new life of liberty and peace available only by believing in Christ and His finished work for you!
Until next time, Happy reading!
With Devotion to Christ and You,