Salvation isn’t a one-time event so I don’t know why we are surprised when things get tough for us.
Okay, first let me clarify, when I say salvation isn’t a one-time event, I don’t mean you have to continually ask Jesus into your heart, as if the first time didn’t stick. I was obsessive about it as a child – thinking every time I sinned, I needed to start from step 1 again. That isn’t what I mean. Salvation as defined by dictionary.com is the act of saving or protecting. Take for example, Hebrews 10:39 which says, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” The word ‘saved’ is a present participle verb, which means to be continually saved. As in, we need to be saved and then saved again and again.
I didn’t intend on giving a grammar lesson because it isn’t my point but I didn’t want to lose anybody in the opening. What I mean is this: I’ve observed others (and caught myself doing it, too) to expect we’ll sail past temptations now that we’re Christians as if it were easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. It is simply not true and I honestly don’t know where that kind of doctrine originates.
On Monday nights, I attend a “healthy living” group hosted at my church. It’s our own version of Weight Watchers, and time and again, women confess to struggles they are having with addictive eating behaviours. I get it, I’ve been there too but more and more I realize we need to play an active role in our own development – be it spiritual, physical or emotional. I can ask Jesus for help but unless I’m able to make a choice to move towards wholeness in mind, body and spirit rather than wallow in self-pity I will remain in the pit I’ve let myself fall into.
The problem mindset (as I view it) is to expect once we’ve made a decision to improve eating habits and promote a healthy lifestyle the rest will be easy to do. We are surprised when there is resistance, and we need to call on Jesus again and again in our distress. It’s not only in areas of eating and food but also in spiritual disciplines or emotional responses. Recognizing the problem is not the same thing as having the problem go away. The problem will not go away until it’s been mastered.
Paul writes to the church in Galatia for them to help each other carry the burdens for another (ch.6, v.2) but each one should carry his own load (ch.6, v.5). We can use each other as support but it can’t stop there. We each have a part to play.
Am I making sense, here? Sometimes I want to give people’s head a shake and say, “Come on, you can do it, but you gotta do it. It’s a battle of the wills, God gave you one so you can make a choice – choose the right thing.”
Each decision is a choice; sometimes the choice seems so hard, nothing short of heavenly assistance and salvation will suffice. It’s okay. Go ahead and ask for salvation, again and again. If we didn’t need it, Jesus wouldn’t be making intercession for us still (Romans 8:34). Self control is part of the fruit of the spirit – if we lack the others, why wouldn’t we think you might lack self control as well?
If we ask, we will receive because salvation is ours – again and again.