The Christian Life

Yet more from Modern Heresies.  This chapter addresses “The life that we now live” [as Christians]:

Contrary to the prevalent “peace of mind” cults which quite misrepresent the nature of the Christian life, the chief mark of the new life in Christ is warfare and struggle.  “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. . . so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  As St. Paul sees it Christians have more tensions than other people; they feel more deeply the conflict between  God’s purpose and the rebellion and self-assertion of human freedom.  The war has become more serious to Christians, because it has found its major battle line right in the center of their own lives.  “The life that we now live” is, according to St. Paul, a life in the flesh and yet a life lived by faith.  “Flesh” for St. Paul is not just earthly existence, but earthly existence as man customarily and naturally lives it–proudly, aggressively, self-righteously self-indulgently, self-centeredly.  A careful study of St. Paul will show that he nowhere promises a cessation of the warfare or a relaxation of the tension this side of our final resurrection.  So the Christian life is a continuous and perennial death to sin and a rebirth to new possibility of life through God’s forgiveness received again and again by faith and trust.  That is why the Church never seems to weary of harping on the theme of sin and does not consider it overdoing things to provide a General Confession of sins every morning and every evening in the Prayer Book offices of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer.  It is the “new mercies each returning day” on which the Christian lives and in which he trusts.  To grow in grace does not mean that we progressively root sin out of our lives.  It means–as the testimony of the great saints makes abundantly clear–that we are progressively more aware of sin’s subtleties, progressively more conscious of God’s love and God’s forgiveness, progressively bolder and less apprehensive as we live more fully by his power and grace….Man never comes to the point where he can go it on his own in the Christian life.  He needs God every hour, and to grow in grace is to learn to know how true that is.

This is such an encouragement to me.


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