You Can Do It!
You Can Do It!
One hurdle that many people face in deciding whether to investigate Christianity and become a Christian is the feeling that they simply can’t live the type of life that is described in the Bible. In this lesson I want to provide as many incentives as I can to convince you that not only can you become a Christian, do you can be everything that God wants you to be.
The all wise and powerful God who made this universe, and is the engineer and designer of mankind, knows that anyone can live the Christian life. Jesus died for everyone, the gospel is offered to everyone, God wants everyone to repent, and God wants everyone to be saved. The term "whoever" or "everyone" should convince us that we can live a faithful Christian life if we so desire. Why would Jesus die for everyone if only a few had the ability to be saved?
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." Mark 3:35 "For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother." Luke 9:24 "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it". Rom 10:11-13 "For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." 1 John 2:5 "but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him". Matt 18:4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven".
It is tempting to believe that Christianity is easier for other people, or that the people who are already serving God were simply born with a personality and temperament that fits the Christian life. Yet the word "whoever" tells us that this isn’t true. Actually, no one is born with a personality that is more difficult to bring in line with the teachings of Christ than any other personality. Just look at the amazing diversity of personalities in this room today.
New Testament Christians
When you visit an assembly of Christians it is so easy to think that these people have always lived this way. You look at the clothes they wear, their children, and their cars in the parking lot, and it is tempting to think that, "Being good just comes naturally to these people". If a person is kind of cynical, they might think, "Well, these people aren’t tempted by sin, because they are too boring". What one needs to remember is that when you enter an assembly you are looking at years and decades of work in people’s lives. If people look like they have their lives together, it is because they have been working very hard toward that end. What you don’t see is that this assembly is filled with former liars, fornicators, swindlers, drunkards, and so on. In fact, many Christians even in the First Century came from very rough backgrounds:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you"; Ephesians 2:1-3 "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest"; Colossians 3:5-9 "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices"; 1 Peter 4:2-4 "so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you".
When Jesus was upon this earth, many of the people who heard Him gladly were not "good moral people", rather, they were the outcasts of society, publicans, sinners, and harlots. In fact, Jesus noted that the people who really had a hurdle to get over, were not the publicans and harlots, but rather, the Pharisees.
Matt 21:28-32"But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' "And he answered and said, 'I will, sir'; and he did not go. "And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, 'I will not'; yet he afterward regretted it and went. "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him".
Too Much Water Under the Bridge?
It is easy to buy into the view that says, "I have lived too long in sin, or I have gone too deep, and there is just too much that needs to be changed about my life". First, Jesus would argue that if anything, someone who has really been deep into sin, will appreciate their salvation that much more.
Luke 7:36-50 "Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. And He entered the Pharisee's house, and reclined at the table. And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he replied, "Say it, Teacher." "A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. "When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?" Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly." And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. "You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. "You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." And He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." And those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Secondly, many people make the mistake too of thinking about everything they need to fix in their life, and then are discouraged and overwhelmed. It is amazing how many things will simply take care of themselves, when you decide to remove yourself from first place and put God in that spot. We have examples of people in the Bible who overcame huge problems, from huge moral problems, to huge problems like extreme prejudice (Acts 26:9; 9:1).
Family Tree Problems
How you were raised, or things that happened in your childhood can just seem like a barrier that can never be removed. Yet, people in the New Testament who became great Christians, often did come from a very unpleasant family life. Timothy overcame a father who had no interest in spiritual things (Acts 16:1-3).
At times people balk about becoming a Christian because the one thing that they can’t seem to forget is some professed Christian who was anything but a Christian. Or, professed Christians who were hypocrites, treated them or their family in a horrible manner, or someone who talked a lot about the Bible, but never applied it. In the First Century, the Jewish people were not always the best example of faithful people (Romans 2:21-29), yet, many Gentiles who were treated like dirt by some Jews, still wanted to serve God. Eventually, you need to ask yourself, "Why am I allowing this person to come between me and God?" "Why am I allowing this example, memory, or experience to keep me from being saved?" If we allow someone to turn us off from God and His word, then that person has not only robbed us of happiness here, but will rob us of eternal happiness. In reality, anyone that we allow to come between us and doing God’s will, has become the most important, influential, and powerful person in our life.
Hebrews 11:31 "By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace".
I have always been impressed with Rahab. She was given one opportunity to side with God. In modern terms, she was only given one brief Bible class, and she had to decide that night. Wow! People can change, they can change right in the moment, and they can change without ever looking back.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017