Why do so many people fail In living the Christian life? While many answers have been offered, I believe there is one overriding reason that fits every case. People have either failed to understand or have been unwilling to surrender to the central requirement of faithful discipleship: Jesus will not accept second place. He must be absolutely first in our lives, wherein lies a great challenge.
He has made plain the preeminence He must have. We must love Him more than we love material things (Matthew 6:19-24). This means we must not neglect our service to Him in order to amass wealth. Also, we must generously support His service with the wealth with which he has entrusted us. Further, we must not seek wealth by dishonest or dishonorable means.
He told us plainly that we must love Him even more than we love our dearest ones on earth (Matthew 10:34-37). This means that we must not yield to family loyalties or pressures that would cause us to disobey Him. Even if ones family disowns him for becoming a Christian, one must still serve the Lord.
The basic (and most difficult) sacrifice He asks of us is self. We must present our bodies as “living sacrifices” unto God (Romans 12:1). Jesus said his followers must “deny (i.e., no longer recognize, refuse to acknowledge] self”(Luke 9:23). We must “crucify” self so that self “no longer lives,” but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). This difficult challenge is the major point of failure. A narcissistic generation that has grown up on a steady diet of do your own thing and if it feels good, do it does not find it easy to give up its fornication, drug (including alcohol) consumption, materialism, and all of its other sin and shame.
Even some saints care more about their “right” to drink their beer than their hope of Heaven. Our age is convenience-crazy and pleasure-mad. Our world operates much as Israel did in the days of the Judges: “EVERY MAN DID THAT WHICH WAS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES” (Judges 17:6). Men have become vain in their reasonings and their senseless hearts are darkened, leading them into unspeakable evils (Romans 1:18-32).
Sadly, this is true of many of the elect. If you doubt it, consider how many church members attend Bible study and worship only when they please and do what they please otherwise, with hardly a thought. Consider how many are still “stiffnecked” about giving generously of their money, in spite of the strong Scriptural demands. Worldliness among the saints is winked at in many, if not most, congregations. The sad truth is that many of us do exactly what we want to do in both doctrine and practice, just as the world does. We can never be faithful to Christ until we understand that what He asks of us is all we have and are.
Article, as a PDF file, can be found at William L. Schwegler's website SCHWEGLER.US.