The remarkable complexity of spiritual life has been generally unappreciated by professed Christendom. An unfortunate tendency to oversimplify life in Christ prevails in too many circles. In spite of the careful and thorough approach to faith that is found in Scripture, men speak of "simply believing," "let go and let God," etc., as though there were some kind of automatic pilot available to believers. The result has been the disarming of the church. She has laid her armor down, and is no longer noted for aggressive warfare against the powers of darkness. Without being overbearing on this matter, some equate spiritual aggression with the boycotting of products, blocking entrances to abortion clinics, and crusading for truth in politics. While there may be a place for these things, they must not be given preeminence. One can heartily engage in all of these efforts without having so much as one small spark of faith. They do not require the Holy Spirit, strangership in this world, or fellowship with Christ.


In Scripture, simplicity is related to getting into Christ. Think of these expressions. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). "Whosoever shall call be saved" (Acts 2:21). Isaiah prophesied of this situation in Isaiah 35:8; "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (Isaiah 35:8). Isaiah's words remind us of the promise of Jesus, "Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world" (John 11:9).

A Fierce Battle

Once we are in Christ, we become participants in a fierce and unrelenting battle. It calls for strategies and efforts that exceed involvements related to coming into Christ. The reason for this condition is not that getting in Christ is unattended by labor, decision, and even aggression. It is that living in Christ is an extended effort covering a possible lengthy period of time.

Confidence in God would be easy to achieve if no conflict existed. The requirement for struggle and resistance in the faith cause many to "walk no more" with the Lord Jesus. This is the result of a distorted view of salvation. The thought is common in religion, perpetrated by the powers of darkness, that ease and pleasure are integral to life in Christ. This, however, is by no means the case.

All that have been "joined to the Lord" (1 Cor 6:17) are, by virtue of that union, citizens of heaven and "strangers and foreigners" in the world (1 Pet 2:11). They "desire a better country," and therefore "crucify the flesh, together with its affections and lusts," because its corrupting influence (Heb 11:16; Gal 5:24). This is an activity prompted by devotion to Christ, and is identified with rationality and perception. Such is not the response of an unwilling servant under a system of law.

In Scripture, the lack of spiritual understanding is called "ignorance." This is an alienating situation, which prohibits fellowship with God ("Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart," Eph 4:18; "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in," Rom 11:25). There are few areas of life where this is as true as that of inner conflict. Those that are ignorant of the nature of the "fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12) are confused by the opposing influences found within. That very ignorance forms the perimeter within which the powers of darkness work.

In the seventh chapter of Romans, Paul identifies the results of new creatureship (2 Cor 5:17). With remarkable clarity, he identifies the nature of the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. He concludes that, although the struggle is fierce, resulting in a degree of frustration, yet it proves the presence of spiritual life.

Several years ago, a tract called "Four Spiritual Laws" was originated in the evangelical community. It was basically deficient in its presentation, and we are not referring to it in this section. My personal opposition to the tract in question is that it does not approach sinners like God does. There is absolutely no example or precedent of such an approach in Scripture. It is an attempt, however noble, to reach men for Christ by employing the wisdom of men.