During my years of legalistic teaching in the church, perhaps more often than anything else, I challenged people to rededicate themselves to Christ. I believed we all needed to try harder and be more sincere and zealous in our efforts to live for Him. I rededicated myself until I felt worn out from it at times.
Re-dedication isn't the grace way. The real answer to a sense of need in our walk with God isn't to promise Him that we'll try harder. That's true even though we may rededicate ourselves. Although many people are sincere in their re-dedication to Christ, it is a wrong approach to the desire to be more consistent in our commitment to Him.
The problem with rededicating ourselves to Christ is self, which is really just another word for die self-sufficiency of the flesh. The essence of religious flesh, as strange as it might seem, is our trying to live the Christian life. That is what actually prevents us from living the Christian life. In fact, the harder we try, the greater the likelihood that we won't succeed because victory in the Christian life doesn't come by trying. It comes by trusting.
The Truth Is So Much Better!
Self-determination, self-discipline, self-sufficiency—those are what stand in the way. Jesus is the way to victory in your grace walk. Notice what Jesus says about following Him:
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).
What did He say we are to do? Dedicate ourselves to Him? No, He said that we are to deny self.
Rededicating ourselves to try harder isn't the answer. It doesn't matter how sincere we might be. It simply won't work. The answer is to trust Him. That's the only cure for an unstable, up-and-down spiritual existence.
Jesus illustrated our relationship with Him by comparing us to a branch:
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
Think about the relationship between a vine and branch. Can a branch produce fruit? No. If you need proof, just cut a branch off a vine or fruit tree, and watch awhile to see how much fruit is produced. However, if a branch is attached to the source with a flow of life, it can bear fruit. The branch is a great "fruit hanger," but it is incapable of producing fruit on its own.
That is a perfect representation of our ability to live the Christian life. We cannot produce it; no matter how hard we try, no matter how "dedicated" we are. But we can bear the characteristics of Christ's life by remaining dependent on Him and allowing Him access to our humanity through faith.
As we have seen before, becoming a Christian has to do with much more than forgiveness. It is a whole new life, the life of Christ. That's why, after describing our death and resurrection in Christ, Paul calls on us to think and act accordingly on the basis of that life:
Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:11-14).
Our Father wants us to learn that the Christian life is not hard for us to live; it is impossible. You won't ever live a victorious Christian life by rededicating yourself to God, and telling Him you're going to try harder to do a better job. Instead, we must come to the end of ourselves, our self-life. We need to say, "Lord, it's not just hard for me to live a life that honors You, it is impossible for me to do it. I will stop trying and just trust You. You are my life. Now, Lord Jesus, live Your life through me."
Is there a place for our active participation in Christian living? Absolutely! But it is vitally important to have that will and effort exercised in an attitude totally dependent on God's power within us. The relationship between them is clearly shown in this passage: "So then, my beloved.. .work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).
That sure sounds like dedicated effort, doesn't it? Yes, but the next verse, completing the sentence, tells the inner secret, the hidden source of power for the outward effort: "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
In other words, the life my creator has designed for me can be understood as Him expressing His life through me from the inside until it governs my life on the outside. I depend on Him as my life, my wisdom, and my power as I walk through life.
Clarify Your Thinking
We didn't become Christians by revving up our religious RPMs and trying to make progress toward entering God's kingdom by what we did. Instead, we came to the place where we realized there was nothing we could or even had to do to get into a right standing with God. We realized that He had already done it all. Nothing has changed in that regard now that you are following Jesus.
We are to simply acknowledge that—no matter how hard we might try—we can do nothing to make ourselves stronger. Just like when we trusted Him when we experienced salvation, we have to come to Him in faith and total dependence that He will be the One who does what needs to be done. And He will.
The apostle Paul said, "As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Colossians 2:6). We continue the walk in the same way we started it—by grace, through faith. If we sense that we are weak in our commitment to Him, the answer is to trust in His grace and know mat He is committed to us. The One who began a good work in you will finish what He has started. Just trust Him, knowing it's not up to you and how hard you try. Faith is the key. That's all it takes.
This excerpt from the new book “52 Lies Heard In Church Every Sunday” is used to illustrate the kind teaching brought out in this book by Steve McVey of Grace Walk, a ministry that believes “It really was for freedom that Christ set us free!”