The Christian Life Isn’t Meant to Be Effortless

Don Whitney

When we’re born again from above by the Spirit of God, the Lord makes a “new creation” of us (2 Cor. 5:17). But when He accomplishes that radical, regenerating transformation of us, He does not eliminate our minds, our bodies, our emotions, our will or anything that’s a part of what makes us human. God’s grace doesn’t eliminate any of those things, instead He gives dramatically new purposes to them.

He calls us to live the Christian life with the full—though God-centered—use of our minds and judgment and everything else that is a part of our humanity.

Let go and let God?

However, many people will tell you that your spiritual problems stem from the fact that you are trying to live the Christian life, but that God never intended you to do so. They say that just as God never intended for you to save yourself so He does not expect you to live the Christian life. They will tell you to “let go and let God; let go and let the Lord Jesus live His life through you.”

You’ve probably heard it put this way: “Have you ever seen an apple tree struggling and working and trying to produce apples? No! The branches just let the sap from the trunk produce the fruit. As long as they remain in the trunk the fruit will come. And in the same way, Christians produce spiritual fruit. All you have to do is abide in the vine, abide in Christ, and He will produce spiritual fruit through you. You don’t have to do anything; He does it all.”

It’s true that the Holy Spirit produces the fruit (that is, Christlikeness) through us and not we ourselves who produce it. But to say that we don’t do anything but remain passive takes the analogy of fruit-bearing too far.

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