Beginning in a relationship with God by the Spirit does not automatically assure that we will continue in that relationship. The Galatians began in the Spirit, but were trying to finish by the flesh (Gal. 3:3). To be born of the Spirit is a great and imperative step. Without that, there is no beginning. To be born again is the beginning of a new life. But it is just that--a beginning. If we live in the Spirit, we must also walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).
God is looking for "finishers"--those who do not just run in the race, but who finish triumphant. Many have thought the beginning of salvation was also its completion; thus they did not continue on with God. Their experience of the life of God has not been normal, because they have thought (often because they have been told) that their whole purpose now is to get others born. It would be ridiculous to tell a newborn baby that his whole purpose now is to produce other babies, and it is almost the same in the spiritual realm.
First of all, only God can save a man. That is not our job. Our place is to be witnesses unto Him (Acts 1:8). Our lives are to bear witness of His life. We are to "be an example of the believer in word and deed" (I Tim. 4:12). Our lives must show that God is alive in our lives. That is our place. If we are alive unto the Lord, He may send others our way to observe, be hungry, ask some questions, and receive some direction. If there is no evidence of life (that is, that we are alive unto God), the doors will never be opened.
After we have been given a new disposition, the effects of sin in the body are still present. For example, if we have been undisciplined, we are still undisciplined. If we have let our desires control us (and they do when we are under sin), the effects of that will still be in our bodies and minds. The deeds of the body must now be brought under control by active response to the direction of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13). The deeds of the old man (the human race descended from Adam) are to be put off, and the deeds of the new man (the race descended from Christ which bears His nature) are to be put on (Eph. 4:22-24). This requires active obedience on our part. It is not a passive place. We are not trying to be saved, but obeying out of who we are--sons of God. We are submitting to the discipline of the Holy Spirit. This is the only way the effects of sin in the body can be dealt with. Remember that nothing is too difficult for God, and no matter what our past lives have been, if we have been born again, we are new creatures. In the body there is no hindrance to doing the will of God that the ability of God cannot overcome.
When unexpected trials begin to come into our lives, we should not be surprised. According to James 1:2, we should instead "count it all joy." At this point, some begin to look for a new experience in God. If we have never been brought into life, then we do need a first experience with God. But if we have known the infusion of life so that we are made one with God, then we are not to seek another experience, such as "inner healing." We must rather begin to walk according to the power of an endless life. This is a daily walk of faith. It cannot be overemphasized that this is a continual abiding in the life of Jesus. Our will (our whole man active) is now submitted to His will. It is a place of inner rest but active obedience. It is not trying, but trusting. It is drawing upon His grace which is sufficient.
To walk in the Spirit is to find our whole life lived out of the ability of God, in the Spirit and for His glory. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives to control us for God's glory. He has been sent to lead us into all truth. He Himself will teach us in every circumstance of life. He will take the things of Jesus and make them ours. We are joined together with God by the Spirit (I Cor. 6:17).
We do not add God to our lives; He becomes our life (Gal. 2:20). We were bought with a price for His purposes, not for ours. If we do not settle this question in the very beginning, we will not experience the "normal Christian life." Our growth will be stunted, spiritual disease will set in, and in the end, if the issue is not dealt with, the result is spiritual death (James 1:15).
We are here only for God. Nothing else matters. To expect to experience the grace and ability of God while living for our own purposes is deception. Words cannot describe the miserable experience of one who knows the way but is not walking in what God has revealed. To the one who knows the way but does not obey, it is sin (James 4:17). Sin breaks our fellowship with God (I John 1:6), and apart from fellowship with God we have no salvation, for He Himself is our salvation.
There may be many other reasons for our experience seeming not to match the normal, victorious Christian life presented in the New Testament. Bad teaching, sluggish obedience, divided loyalty, and trying to move by our own energy may be some of them. But in God, there are no excuses. His way is perfect, and He has made the way known. Our part is to be hungry and thirsty, and to ask. He will answer and feed us. We ourselves are the only hindrance.
That which is born of God overcomes--everything. This is a life of faith, one that brings us into and keeps us connected with the Source. Nothing else matters. When there is failure, it is never on God's side. He has dealt with the enemy and disarmed him (Col. 2:15). If we give the enemy any power, it is because we have come out of our abiding place in Christ. In Him we are more than conquerors. Our responsibility is to abide in Him--and this means to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21).
Love is expressed in relationship, communion, union and oneness. God is one, and we have been brought into that oneness by the Spirit. "Father, make them one as We are one," Jesus prayed (John 17:11). As we abide in Him we are nourished in His presence, and obedience in this love relationship is easy (John 14:21). Our relationship with God must be guarded at all costs. May the Lord strengthen each of us this day as we continue on to know Him.