The Greatest Temptation in the Christian Life

I’ve been a Christian a long time–since 1985–and I find that one thing tempts me more than anything else.

It’s the temptation to live a life of self-effort rather than one of spirit-filled dependence.

I rely on myself. I do it in my own strength. I am filled with anxiety with all my micro-managing. I work harder in all my power. I attempt my spiritual disciplines with all my energy.

Aren’t you tired just reading that sentence? I am. It gives me a headache.

I remember the day in 1997 when a woman shared with me about spirit-filled living. It seemed too good to be true. We looked at the scriptures together (mostly Romans 8 and Ephesians 5), and I learned that I can ask the Holy Spirit to control, direct, and empower my life.

I turn from self-effort. I do this by faith.

I can surrender control of my life and invite God’s spirit to live a supernatural life through me. Otherwise, the Christian life isn’t just hard; it’s really impossible. It’s really not good news at all if I have to work harder, in my own power, to do anything.

With God’s power in me, I’m increasingly filled with the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5) and have a mind “governed by life and peace” (Romans 8).

Really? Is it that simple?

Yes. The good news of Jesus is really good news. But I find that every few months, I’m tempted away from this reality back into the drudgery and enslavement of working harder in my own power.

So today I remember this simple and joyous truth.

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  1. “I can surrender control of my life and invite God's spirit to live a supernatural life through me” So true, but oh so hard to do! Sometimes it's like when I am on a diet and I intentionally eat poorly – I seem to want to sabotage myself – I push God away and go back to “self-effort”. Guess I have to take it a day, a moment at a time.