“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:21 NIV)
For a couple of years I have planned to write a series of posts on living by faith, recognizing its critical importance to the successful Christian life. But every time I start to put together some ideas on the topic I am stymied by the enormity of the challenge as well as my personal failings to live such a life myself.
My son preached a powerful message on that very topic this past Sunday. But like so many Biblical concepts, it is easier to preach and write about living by faith than to put it into practice. Even Paul, who captured the issue so eloquently in the verse above, admitted to his own struggles in that regard in Romans Chapter 7.
To live by faith in the Son of God is a lifelong journey filled with fits and starts as the world and our flesh battles against the Spirit for control of our hearts. Paul writes in Galatians 5:17 (ESV), “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
So how do we win that battle? For years I thought the answer was to pray for God to fill me with more of his Spirit. But I have learned that the Spirit cannot fill my heart when it is already full of myself. Like Paul, it starts with understanding just what it means to be “crucified with Christ”, emptying myself of myself so that the Spirit can fill the void. It is indeed a lifelong pursuit, filled with frustration but enormous in its rewards.
Will I ever write that series? Maybe not. But I will continue to strive for that goal. Like John the Baptist proclaimed, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV)
“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it.” -G. K. Chesterton