About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Reverting To Human Effort


"Are you so foolish?  After beginning in the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort: (Galatians 3:3 NIV)?  These words show the Apostle Paul's frustration with the believers in Galatia, who, after receiving the Holy Spirit into their lives were now attempting to live out God's will by what Paul called "human effort."  Replacing the Holy Spirit with our fallen humanness does sound foolish, but it's our ever-present tendency.          


The Holy Spirit is involved in every aspect of salvation.  He convicts us of our sin and helps us repent.  He introduces us to Jesus and helps us trust Him, and, He resides in us to accomplish God's will.  Without Him, we do not belong to God (Romans 8:9).  


More than many think, much of modern day Evangelical Christianity is riddled with human effort or humanism as I call it.  I was raised in an Evangelical Christianity where getting saved was a matter of faith in God's grace alone, but staying saved seemed to me to be a matter of doing good works and not doing bad works.  In other words, staying saved was a matter of human effort.  That is what Paul called human effort. 


Another example of human effort is this.  Today's Evangelicalism is heavily influenced by self-help techniques borrowed from our non-Christian culture.  Don't get me wrong.   Self-help does bring improvement to one's life.  Anyone, including non-Christians, can improve the quality of who they are more than most think, but, self-help must never replace the Holy Spirit's activity in our lives and in the life of the church, as is often the case.   


Reverting back to human effort to accomplish God's will in the life of the church and the individual wasn't only the problem with the believers at Galatia.  It's our problem too.  Let's look at the problem head on and ask Jesus for a fresh awareness and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in both the life of the church and the lives of those of us in the church.  "'It's not by might nor by power but by my Spirit,' says the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6).  


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