The Inability for Christians to Persevere on Their Own

Just as the unbeliever is unwilling and unable to come to Christ in his own strength, so the Christian is unable to persevere in his own wisdom and power. It is only God’s grace that brings salvation to the elect of God (Eph 1:4–5; 2:8–9; 1 Pet 2:9). Through the Spirit-filled preacher, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:18), God calls His chosen ones into communion with God’s Son (Mt 11:28–30; Jn 6:37; Rom 8:30).

The arrogant unbeliever boasts in himself and in his own power to accept or reject Jesus Messiah. He declares his autonomy in whether he will enter, and whether he will stay in Christ. Assuming he has free will (a myth) and also ability to become a Christian, he also assumes he will maintain his autonomy in relationship to Jesus Christ. He will persevere as a Christian, if he so chooses.

In overestimating his own spiritual prowess, being a totally depraved wretched sinner, spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins, the natural man also thinks too low of his enemies: sin; death; Satan; and the world system in the devil’s control. He cannot see the truth of his disposition. The devil has blinded his mind and seduced him into thinking more highly of himself than he ought to (Gen 3:5; 2 Cor 4:4).

Our adversary seeks to deceive the adopted child of God in a similar way. The born again know the truth about God’s sovereign will and grace, in beginning the good work of salvation. The deceiver’s temptation is for the Christian to embrace the grace unto justification, but then, to devalue grace through sanctification unto glory. The body of sin ever lusts for independence.

Is the Christian able to persevere in the Christian life, as if God were not supplying His sustaining grace moment by moment? Does the branch decide to attach itself to the vine? Once attached to the vine, does the branch dictate to the vine when and how much sap will flow? When the Father grafts the Christian into union with Christ (the Vine) that union must be maintained, in order for the life of God to flow into the believer, causing him to grow spiritually into maturity, producing much fruit (Jn 15; Gal 5:22–23).

Christians must be taught; they must learn, of this vital union in the Spirit. Otherwise, there is the temptation to believe and to fear that this communion can be lost. Without the shelter of the Most High, the Christian would be utterly vulnerable to that which seeks to destroy him.

The irresistible grace that draws the elect sinner to come to Christ (Jn 6:44), is the very grace that keeps the saint in a position to receive abundant life, in accordance with God’s eternal purpose in Christ (Eph 3:11). Without the grace of God, that is, the work of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the believer would never be able to sustain his salvation.

Sin, Satan, and the world system of darkness only wish to sever men from Christ. Every temptation, obstacle, danger, threat, and persecution is from the enemy of our souls. We who have the beginnings of grace must also have the sustaining power of grace, in order to thrive and finish the race. No one, especially, the Christian should ever have confidence in the flesh (e.g. wisdom, will, ability).

Apart from Christ, we can do nothing (Jn 15:5), for all we have is a body of sin and the sinful works of the flesh. Delusions of autonomy are products of the deceived mind (Eph 4:17). Whereas the natural man never has a connection with Christ (1 Cor 2:14), the spiritual man is brought into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, by grace alone (1 Cor 2:15; Col 1:13). He is the object of God’s eternal love (Rom 5:5; 1 Jn 4:19). God has mercy on the elect (Rom 9:15, 23), redeems, and graciously regenerates them (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3) — not to put them into a position of independence, but utter dependence on Himself.

Christian, your hope and future rests entirely in your inseparable connection to Jesus Christ. You must dismiss all thoughts and all speech that suggest any self-initiative, any self-activity, and any self-credit for the things you are utterly incapable of performing on your own.

You are living a life of faith, in a person other than yourself (Gal 2:20). Glorify Jesus Christ by always acknowledging Him in everything (Prv 3:5–6). Declare your faith, by speaking of the only hope within you (Col 1:27), that is, Christ Jesus, who has made true and faithful promises to see you through to glory. There is no other way.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

August 28, 2022

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher