There tends to be two sides of Christian though on this idea, but my school of thought leans toward the idea of we are saved by faith and faith alone and not by our works. I believe this is undeniably true in scripture. However, at the same time scripture tells that faith without works is dead and asks man to “move their feet” to their faith. Not many Churches, denominations, pastors, etc present both sides very well. If they lean too much toward mans response, mans natural tendency of selfishness takes place and works becomes works of self-righteousness. This works based righteoussness (pharasaism) happens in every Church to every person at some point… we almost can’t help ourselves.
Unfortunately, the other side of the coin also exists…. man becomes complacent and soon our walk with God is “floating”. We don’t move our feet any longer to scripture. And then we look around us and we see other people floating. Soon it becomes a floating party and as long as we have good company floating with us we have no need to respond in the way scripture asks of us.
I am speaking from my own experience here; but we live in a world where the lack of self-discipline is easily rewarded. All we have to do is click a button on our mouse and we get instant gratification. Whether its pornography, relationships, stuff to purchase, information, etc. We can get it all instantly online. Its difficult to press on past the natural entropy of ourselves and to maintain scripturally disciplined lives.
I think its important to maintain a very discontented joy in our walk with God. This is what the Cross and Gospel were trying to address in man.. that man was a contradiction… a contradiction built in the likeness and image of god but also sinful.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is…
(Part 1)We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and …
(Part 2)We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope
You can see how the Cross and Jesus’ purpose completely addresses this deep contradiction in man.
Many people deny this but man needs to get honest with himself and quit denying that that we are a walking contradiction. We are simultaneously sinner and a new creation ‘in Christ”. People who deny this have not learned to develop a life of rigorous honesty with themselves. The discontented part of us should never be comfortable with our sin. It needs to want to resist sin. It needs to want to “press on” past the natural entropy and order of things in our lives. Ultimately my sin needs to press me toward how deep my need is for Jesus. Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith.
A deep identity and relationship with Christ should give me the boldness to take risks to press on past this natural entropy and desire to work towards a self-disciplined life even when I am at odds with myself (my own sin) or others that are looking to be in their own self-preservation mode of selfishness.
Here I am 45 and still working on this self-discipline in my life. Thanks be to God for what Jesus did for me on the Cross.