Fake it 'til you make it!
Ed Smith explains in the article below why "Faking it 'til you make it" never works. I'm 75 and have lived long enough to prove him right.
When Asking "What Would Jesus Do?" Doesn't Work
Carl has been a Christian for many years. He describes himself as committed and determined, and he feels that he is probably doing as well as those around him. He believes that the Bible is the whole truth and is without error. He believes the Scriptures are sufficient for living the Christian life, yet he senses that something is missing.
Carl knows that he should be seeing the fruit of the Spirit in his life. He desires to experience and demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, but he finds that trying to perform, or "do the fruit," is tiresome and has inconsistent results.
He knows the Scriptures say that as a believer he is "more than victorious" (Rom. 8:37 HCSB), and yet he often feels defeated. He knows that the Lord is always with him, yet he sometimes feels alone and on his own.
He knows that he should trust God to provide for all of his needs, but he cannot help but feel anxious at times, especially about his finances.
He has tried hard to forgive those who have wronged him throughout his life, but when he thinks about the hurt they caused him, he still feels some measure of resentment. The joy and peace that many others say that they experience seem to elude him. All this leaves Carl feeling fearful, desperate, helpless, and depressed.
Some well-meaning friends have encouraged him to simply choose to be obedient "do the truth." They say he needs to learn to walk by faith rather than by feelings. One friend even said, "Fake it 'til you make it."
The problem was that no matter how hard he tried to "fake it" he never seemed to "make it." Carl wanted his Christian walk to look like what he believed the Bible said it should be.
Carl even brought a "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD?) bracelet to remind him to stay focused and be intentional about living and looking like Jesus in order to produce spiritual fruit. However, this quickly became a constant reminder of his repeated failures, which left him feeling even more disheartened.
Others told Carl that he was under spiritual attack and being oppressed by the enemy, that he should "stand," "resist the devil," and "fight the good fight." This confused him because he was also told that the devil had been defeated and could not touch him (I John 5:18) and that he was victorious through Christ.
Though fighting the devil while at the same time claiming victory seemed contradictory, he decided to "name and claim" his victory and just fight the devil anyway. It wasn't long before he realized that not much was gained by doing this.
A COMMON REALITY
Carl's plight is a common reality for many people struggling to live the Christian life. Overcoming sin, managing emotional pain, and trying to "do the fruit" are often the focus of many believers who are doing their best to live and look like Jesus. However, there are several problems with using this strategy for spiritual success.
First, doing these things is not what the Bible tells us to do, and they will not bring about the results that our hearts desire. We are not called to overcome sin (even though we too often make this our focus), since Christ took care of that for us, freeing us from sin.
When Christ died, He took care of the sin problem and "our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin" (Rom. 6:6-7).
Being victorious is not about us overcoming sin, but rather resting in the victory we have been given in Christ because it is "God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 15:57).
The question we need to ask is, "Why am I still struggling with sin anyway?" For as the Apostle Paul declared, "how shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Rom. 6:2).
Our being victorious is also not about standing on top of our pain, or trying to manage it. Managing our pain is nothing more than "spiritualized" suppression which causes problems in and of itself, and trying to "do the fruit" of the Spirit is fruitless--no pun intended.
The Scriptures clearly propose a different path: transformation. Transformation is an inner work that God brings about as we are persuaded of the truth in our hearts by His Spirit. Not that Good News!
When we believe His truth with our hearts, the outcome is the effortless expression of the fruit of His Spirit. Where there is an absence of fruit, it is due to an absence of truth as well.
Getting back to Carl. His efforts in "doing the fruit" through a performance-based spirituality could never work because God did not design the Christian life to be lived in this fashion. The fruit of the Spirit is the natural result of the indwelling of Christ and knowing the truth within the heart, not a "to-do" list to fulfill (Gal. 5:16-26).
ABIDING AND BEARING
In the Gospel of John, Jesus used the analogy of a vineyard to describe our relationship with Him, emphasizing that it was impossible for a branch to bear fruit apart from the vine. The responsibility of the branch is to abide in the vine, wherein it will naturally and effortlessly bear fruit.
The apostle Paul declared that it was Christ living in and through him, not his own efforts, that were bringing about a spirit-filled life. He said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). Article by Ed Smith ________________
The ministry of the Holy Spirit in you is a "lifestyle" journey where you begin to intentionally and purposefully position yourself so that you might participate with what God is doing in your life moment-by-moment.
In closing let me ask you a few questions.
Can you give testimony of genuine transformation in your life that has been an outcome of mind renewal that the Spirit of truth brought about when He persuaded your heart to believe the truth?
If acting in a "godly" manner through controlled behavior is not transformation, not does it exemplify the fruit of the Spirit, what should be our focus and where should we concentrate our efforts in living the Christian life?
How much of your behavior consists of attempting to act like Jesus as opposed to being the effortless expression fo His fruit?"
What can you do to change this percentage? Hint: Trying harder is not the correct answer.
Until next time - May you find joy on your journey!