Why do many Christians carry the burden of numerous activities? Sometimes, it is due to an honest desire to be righteous and holy.
The desire to be holy is God’s mandate for us but our undoing is the thought that becoming holy depends wholly on our efforts. This is the burden most Christians bear; the struggle to be righteous through religious activities.
Human effort to earn righteousness is an unattainable, frustrating quest. There is nothing good in us to meet up the righteous requirements of God.
Upon acceptance of the free gift of salvation, we become new creatures and this knowledge determines the kind of lives we’ll live afterwards. The sad thing is that, this is often taken for granted.
Christians who do not pay attention to their new identity in Christ by the virtue of conversion rely on their self-efforts and religious activities.
Paul the apostle had that experience with the believers in Galatia in the first century. After they accepted Christ through the gospel of Paul by the grace of God through faith, they stopped living by the grace of God and started struggling for their salvation through their religious effort (Gal. 3:1-9).
A Christian life that ignores God’s gift of life by the grace of God through faith is a false one. It is spiritual pride to overlook or take God’s grace for granted and it is even more arrogant, deceptive and destructive to venture into only what God can do for you.
True Christian living springs from the true knowledge of who one is in Christ Jesus by the grace of God through faith upon conversion. John the apostle says that, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” (1John 3:1a).
When we meet the simple two conditions given for salvation as stated in Romans 10:9 (believing in Jesus to be the son God who was raised from dead and confessing Him to be Lord), we instantly become children of God.
This means that our souls and human spirit previously dead to sin have been saved from the nature of death to the nature of God, the nature of holiness and righteousness (1 Corinth. 5:17).
True Christianity accepts a new identity in Christ Jesus by faith. It is faith in God and not in our ability to attain any righteous standard through activities, that God desires.
We are not meant to struggle to become God’s children because we are already his children by the virtue of faith in Christ Jesus. We are rather meant to live from who we are and not to live needlessly struggling to be who we are already.
This understanding gives us peace and rest of mind. The knowledge that one is a child of God gives a profound peace to live freely from the terrors of Satan, it also gives confidence to live boldly for God.
Christians are meant to rest in the finished work of Christ (Heb. 4:1).
However, when a Christian fails to understand what God has done or know who God has made him or her in Christ, the person will live with the burden of struggling for righteousness. We can only live righteous lives because we are made righteous in the first place. This is a paradox that only the Holy Spirit can make clear to us, we pursue righteousness out of righteousness. We pursue righteousness out of the righteous image we have been made in Christ Jesus.
It is easy to recite ” we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2Cor. 5:21b). This is a common text within the church but a look at the church will tell that the message of this text has eluded the church. The church needs to grapple with this message and start living for who she is. Christians are not to struggle to be righteous, they are. , “For you were once darkness but now you are light (Eph. 5:8).
If the unbelievers are struggling to be morally righteous because they have not come to the saving knowledge of God, and Christians too do the same, what then is the difference? “We are the light of the world” (Matt.5:14). We have the light of God in us, we are the light, we are therefore called to live out our light before men and not struggle to be light.
It takes faith to realize who we are in Christ. It is difficult for people to accept the reality of who they are in Christ because it takes faith. It is much easier to struggle to earn righteousness by human effort because that does not demand faith.
True righteousness or the God kind of righteousness comes only by faith in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:9).
It may be disappointing for you to know that your struggle for righteousness is a futile effort but that is the gospel.
There is no righteousness outside faith on the work of Christ. We are meant to embrace the gift of righteousness given by God through Christ.