In one of the comments, someone asked:
If one finds oneself constantly failing in the Christian life (ie a constant Rom 7 experience) what should he do? How (practically) do you obey through the power of the spirit and not your own flesh?
I’m about to show you what my answer was. I wouldn’t mind some input—John C, I’d love it if you’d add to this in the comment section.
Until then, it’s my hope that this will help some. Going forward in Christ is above all a matter of knowing and pursuing him. He that wishes to please God must know that he is, the writer of Hebrews says, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
So here’s the answer I gave:
This is a difficult question to answer from a distance.
The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. It is good to have brothers (or sisters) speaking into your life. If there’s an ongoing struggle, they can see what you’re lacking.
If you don’t have that kind of fellowship, then the question I would usually ask is what one thing that God is asking you to do.
If you don’t know, then you need to find out. It’s very hard to fix everything in your life at once. It’s much easier to know exactly what God is asking of you, work on that, then move on to the next thing he gives you as soon as he has you moving on.
For example, let’s say that I seek God, and I believe the one thing he’s got for me is to really pay attention to those that I’m with: to listen, to let there be love in my eyes, and to really seek to let Christ reach them through me while I’m with them.
Then, when a person begins to talk to me, it’s a reminder to set my eyes on God. It’s a reminder to ask God for grace, and to focus on doing his will.
That act will carry over into other parts of my life, and the successes will strengthen me and draw me closer to God.
I don’t say this out of some system I’ve developed. I say this out of what I’ve watched God do with people for 27 years. He’s always got something that he wants you to learn or change in. You’re his student, not your own, so you have to focus on what he’s focusing on.
That’s all you’ll have grace for. You won’t have grace for the lessons you’ve assigned yourself. You’ll have grace for what God is asking of you, and God only asks what he knows you can give, no matter how difficult it is.
Focus on that. Make it the goal of your life. If you fail, then repent, get up, and ask him for even more grace. God knows you may be weak and need some time, but if he’s asking something for you, it is within your power–as long as your eyes are on him.
That’s a specific answer. I have one much shorter general answer.
Walking in the Spirit means trying to keep one eye on God all the time. It means checking inside to see if God has dropped anything in your heart in every situation and conversation you find yourself in. Sometimes there will be nothing. Other times, there will be something there, and you must obey.
One obedience leads to another. He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.
We have to give ourselves time to grow. We can’t be crushed by failures. We have to allow ourselves to be forgiven by God (mercy), and we have to rely upon his help (grace).
John, a friend of mine, has a blog on this topic as well.