When we consider these things, we sometimes have difficulty relating them to our own experiences. We might wish we'd had a Damascus road conversion that solved everything all at once, but maybe our story doesn't seem so simple. We know that we should be dead to this world, but in reality it seems we are very much alive to it. What should we do? What is the problem? In this short discussion we cannot cover every detail, but just mention some of the things that may hinder us. God is faithful and will meet us where we are if we have ears to hear.
To begin with, we may have never heard the true gospel. There are many gospels today which are not the true gospel. Some preachers do not preach the cross of Jesus Christ. They may name the name of Jesus, but instead of the message of the cross, they preach a gospel of prosperity in this life. They do not bid men to come and die, but to come and live the good life. They promise men that God wants to bless them in this life. This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has no power to deliver men from sin. It promises men they can live in their sins and still go to heaven. It is a false gospel, and Paul said if any man preaches another gospel, he should be accursed.
Maybe we have heard the true gospel, but we have not yet come to the cross to die. We have struggled, wanting to do our own will but still wanting the blessing of Christ. Our life has been a conflict. We can relate very well to Paul's testimony in Romans 7. We want to do the will of God, but we lack the power to do it, and we find ourselves doing what we do not want to do. We find that sin reigns in our heart and we don't know how to get free. I believe this is the state of many today. There are many preachers ready to assure us that this experience is the normal Christian life and we should not worry. Many say, "God understands, and He will change it all between here and heaven." God does not "understand" us in this way. Jesus went to the cross to deliver us from sin, self-effort, and struggle, and if He paid the ultimate price for our deliverance, He expects us to avail ourselves of that provision. To experience the benefit of Calvary, we must come and pay our price. That price is to be crucified with Christ. He will raise us in power if we will come and die. Are we willing? God will not force us.
Perhaps at one point in our lives we came and laid all on the altar of sacrifice. We rose up as a new creation in Christ Jesus. It was a wonderful day, and we knew the blessing of His presence. But as time went on, the relationship started to grow cold. The world began to attract us again. What happened? I believe the answer is simple. God called us to walk by faith in this new life every day, but we thought everything would be automatic. We did not guard that love relationship and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We did not continue to obey Him as an expression of our love. We did not pursue fellowship and encouragement from others of like mind. As we have already seen, it is a walk of faith. The only way we can continue to know the presence and power of God is by abiding in Him.
Another problem may be that we started adding something to Christ. This happened to the Galatians. Paul said that they started well, but something hindered them. This error can come in many ways. In the beginning, Jesus was all we needed, but along came the tempter in some form and we listened to his message. "Yes, the message of the cross is good, but we need some other things." It could be rituals, keeping of days, parts of the Jewish laws, joining a religious organization, and so on. Brothers and sisters, Christ is all we need! This is not a small statement. If we have Christ, His love has been shed abroad in our hearts, and that love will keep His commandments. These are not the commandments of the law, or of men, or of our reasoning, but Christ's commands--what He speaks to us by the Spirit as we walk in this world.
There may be many other things that enter in to deter us. We may try to serve God in our own strength and our own way. We may have come to a place where God put His finger on something and we said "no." We may have let the relationship grow cold through neglect, or we may have let our desires control us. We may face a challenge in our life and turn to resources other than God. We may have allowed an idol in our life that eclipses our vision of Jesus. These and many other things take our eyes off Jesus as our Lord and the simplicity of the message of the cross. There is only one solution. Turn back to Jesus and the message of the cross. Lay aside that which has hindered and believe that Jesus is enough. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. He will not fail any person who comes and bows at the foot of the cross. He is there to meet us.