How to Deal with Our Scribbled Lives

Imagine a Christian sitting down with a blank page and pen. He begins to write out his perfectly scripted life, explaining how he would love others, how he would structure his prayer life, or how he would build a beautiful Christian family. But indwelling sin and Satan crouch at his elbow, disrupting every pen stroke and messing up every word and sentence as our Christian friend tries to write the script.

At every point in the Christian life our own flesh and Satan jab our elbow, and our pen skids across the page as our perfect plan is reduced to scribbles. This is a metaphor of the Christian life. Have you ever felt like this? Frustrated? Overwhelmed? Tired? Ready to give up trying to live this Christian life? Welcome to the club. The demands of the Christian life are not only difficult, but impossible. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Do you know what nothing is? Nothing is a zero with the edges rubbed out. That is nothing. You can’t do anything without God. In other words, none of us can live the Christian life by our own strength. It is impossible.

Many of us don’t want to admit this. Our slogan becomes, “I can do it.” We listen to others who tell us, “You can do it.” We buy into the popular idea that if we just try harder, go to church more, pray more, read the Bible more, then we can do it. But it is impossible.

As worthy as these goals might sound, trying harder is not how the Lord intended us to live the Christian life. It isn’t about trying, it is about trusting. It isn’t about determining, it is about depending. Depending on the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:16 that we are to “walk in the Spirit.”

So how do we do that? Through spiritual breathing. Think of normal physical breathing. What does it involve? Just two things: inhaling fresh air and exhaling bad air. It is what we do all day long and all night long. Spiritual breathing is a similar process. It is exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure. It works like this: When you become aware of sin in your life, you deal with it at that very moment, wherever you are. You say, “Lord, I agree with you that what I have done is sin. Forgive me.” That is exhaling. Then you say, “Lord, I want you to be in control of my life once again. Fill me again with your Holy Spirit.” That is inhaling. As you practice this spiritual breathing, exhaling and then inhaling, you will discover that you can live the whole day in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian life can only be lived with “Christ in us” through the power of the Holy Spirit. Look at these verses (emphasis mine):
Zechariah 4:6: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”
Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives within me.”

One of our marks of a Christ-centered, Christ-sent person is that they live Holy Spirit-dependent lives. As we begin this new year, we are going to be looking at the Holy Spirit, who He is and what He does, on Sunday mornings. All of us desperately need the Holy Spirit to empower us to be what God intended us to be. Otherwise our lives just remain one large scribbled mess!