The last two posts began with a discussion of Slimoso, an herb discovered in a remote region of the Andes, which has been reduced to capsule form. One capsule a day and you can eat anything you want and remain at an ideal weight. Of course, I just made that up.
However, people make similar spiritual claims, in essence offering spiritual Slimoso. Just like Slimoso offers weight loss without the disciplines of diet and exercise, so they offer various mechanisms presented as biblical that alleviate the need for discipline, for struggle in the Christian life. The cliché “Let go and let God,” intimates that we can and should quit the struggle and just let God do it. Likewise, “It’s not in trying but in trusting,” connotes that trying, exercising discipline and endurance is not necessary or even biblical. Genuine trusting alleviates trying.
In the previous post I offered any number of scriptures showing this not to be a biblical position. The Bible indicates that the Christian life is a struggle, a battle, a fight with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Though God in His grace gives us days of reprieve, it’s not long before we are back in the trenches engaged in some sport of spiritual struggle.
In addition to the many scriptures supporting the perspective that there is no spiritual secret, another reason I doubt the existence of such a spiritual easy button is found in my failure to find anyone for whom such a secret is working.
It is true that from time to time God in his mercy will rid a person of a bad habit without struggle. However, that is not the norm. When the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, as military newbies God blessed them with a plan for easily defeating Jericho. March around the city seven days and the walls fall in on the hapless soldiers of Jericho, no doubt killing a whole bunch of them and leaving the rest too traumatized to put up much of the scrap. However, that was not the norm. Gradually God had Israel become increasingly more engaged in the fight. We must be careful not to generalize single instances where God does all of fighting, assuming that that is the norm.
I have observed a tragic pattern involving people who claim to have discovered the secret for painless spiritual success. They seem to live on a spiritual high for a while, but after time they crash and burn, falling prey to some serious sin, revealing that their technique lacked biblical validity.
If such a methodology for experiencing spiritual triumph without enduring the heat of battle exists, how tragic that so few people hold this key that they are virtually impossible to find. One would think that if such a mechanism were God’s design, the majority of His people would be basking in its wonderful provisions. Would the Holy Spirit not reveal it to all of us, and would not most of God’s people be enjoying its benefits, effortlessly displaying godly lives? If some believers did display this technique for effortless production of godliness, it would seem that the Christian world would be beating a path to their doors, since all of us would love to become loving people without the hardships of spiritual battle.
If spiritual Slimoso does exist, even the apostle Paul hadn’t heard about it as evidenced by his self-disclosure in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
I would love to think that such a formula existed. It would be a whole lot easier than employing the mind and will in the struggles of Christian living day by day. However, neither Scripture nor empirical evidence bear out the existence of such a cross-eliminating approach to spiritual success. Instead, like the many diet programs advertised on television that promise participants the capacity to shed pounds effortlessly, no such spiritual shortcut exists.