Why Christians Fail At Living the Christian Life
By Arthur J Licursi
Ultimately, genuine Christians arrive at the place of admitting they are seeming failures at living the Christian life… so they wonder why. Most often it is because they’ve never heard or trusted in the specific truths of Paul’s Gentile “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). It is likely their church and/or they themselves have placed them under Israel’s “law” program. Thankfully Paul wrote: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14 (KJV). So, we are not under any performance based acceptance system with God our Father.
If we will be honest, we must admit that the church at large today is impotent and is seemingly unable to live the Christian life, thus then unable to affect the world. Christianity has become a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. The world looks at the so-called TV evangelists who extort money to “keep the gospel on the air” when in fact we hear very little of anything resembling Paul’s genuine “gospel of the grace of God” from them. We either hear “come and get your blessing” as they quote promises that God made to Israel or “the Law” that God gave to Israel, or a mixture of both. Sadly, most Christians have never come to know the liberty, peace and rest that is theirs since they don’t recognize that the Gentiles have a different gospel during this age of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2).
The pitiful condition of the church at large today contradicts the facts we find clearly delineated in Paul’s epistles wherein he makes powerful proclamations of the victory that is already ours, in Christ (2Cor 2:14). Paul says “the body of Christ” already stands “holy and blameless…in Christ” (Eph 1:4) and “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… hath blessed us (already) with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Eph 1:3). While most Christians seek God by praying for something from God; power, grace, peace, love, etc., Paul says “the faithful in Christ” already have all these things in the person of the indwelling Christ. Paul says we have need of nothing since “ye are complete in Him (Christ)” (Col. 2:9-10). “All” is in Christ who “indwells” the believer’s spirit as their “all” (Col. 1:27, 1Cor. 6:17, Col 3:11b).
There is a fundamental reason why the Christian church as we see it today is so spiritually bankrupt, impotent and ignorant of the significance of these Pauline truths noted above. It is ignorance of the Scriptures “rightly divided” and properly interpreted that has made the church so poor.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV).
We must be careful to “divide” the Scripture that were written to and concerning Israel under the Law from that of Paul’s 13 Epistles written to the Gentle body of Christ (Romans though Philemon). Paul wrote: “For I [Paul] speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify [honor] mine office:” (Romans 11:13 (KJV). As Moses was God’s spokesman to Israel so Paul is God’s spokesman unto the Gentile church called “the body of Christ.”
Paul said “faith cometh by… hearing the word of God”; that assumes hearing the word for the Gentiles properly interpreted. We can observe that there are many Christians who live without the faith by which they may apprehend all the riches and security that is their rightful inheritance in Christ. We can only conclude then that this is so only because…they have yet to “hear (the truth of) the word of God” clearly delineated for the Gentiles.
Having faith or not, God is faithful and He still working within the hearts of every true seeker who desires to know Him and the truth for them today as members of “the body of Christ.” God desires that we come to an intelligent understanding of His word that can only be understood as we “rightly divide” His written word in study. God has equipped every human with the faculties of mind and a human spirit such as necessary for us to receive divine revelation and truth by His Spirit.
- Are the Pauline statements that I’ve recorded above and below concerning our enriched position “in Christ” true?
- Are these Pauline statements parts of the God-breathed written word given by God to teach and to sustain the “church, which is His body” today?
- Are we to believe Paul’s words that he writes to the members of “the church, which is His body,” claiming them to be effective “now” under “the dispensation of the grace of God”?
If so, then why do we find so many Christians praying for what Paul says they already possess “in Christ?”
- Many seek wisdom. Yet Paul says “Christ has (already) been made wisdom unto us” (1Cor 1:30). Note the past tense “Christ has been made wisdom unto us”
- Many seek holiness. Yet Paul says “may the God of peace sanctify you (1Thes 5:23). Thus, God is seen as our sanctifier who has already made us to stand holy and blameless “in Christ” (Eph 1:3-4).
- Many seek to work for Him. Yet, Paul says first “it is God who worketh in you” (Philip 2:13). God is the one who is at work in us. Our one work is to believe, as in trust in Him, and cling to Him (John 6:19).
- Many seek peace. Yet, Paul says “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be (is) with you all.” (2Thes 3:16). Since we have Christ in us, we already have peace resident within us all the time.
- Many seek victory. Yet, Paul says “we are more than conquerors through Him” (Rom 8:37).
Something keeps the church at large from absorbing the knowledge of the rich truths that concern the members of “the body of Christ.” It should become obvious that the “something” that keeps us from this truth is… a resistance to acknowledging Paul’s unique gospel and message for “the body of Christ” as being separate, distinct, and DIFFERENT from the message that Jesus of Nazareth gave “the twelve” Apostles.
Paul tells us that he is “THE Apostle” to the Gentiles in several verses that he has written to “the church, which is His body.” Romans 11:13 (KJV) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles…
The poor condition we see among “the church” today is mostly due to ignorance of the truth. That ignorance springs from that fact that many have been fed and adopted Bible interpretations by spiritualizing the Bible in such a way that it prohibits the members of “the body of Christ” from seeing the sufficiency of Christ and His cross as presented in Paul’s epistles.
Most incorrectly tend to mix together everything that God says in the Bible to Israel and “the body of Christ” as though it is all spoken to us for today. They then they try to apply it, as though every word in the Bible is written to and concerns “the body of Christ.” This of course is simply not true since about 80% of the Bible is about the nation Israel, not about the members of “the church, which is his body.” We must note that the Bible mostly records that which concerns the nation of Israel; with the promises, prophecy, and description of the ultimate fulfillment of those prophecies for “Abraham’s seed.” These prophesies are mostly still yet to be fulfilled. Paul tells us that God’s program for Israel has been interrupted, set aside for a time, “until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Rom. 11:25). Paul, as our Apostle, speaks to us concerning the truth for “the body of Christ” today, during this period that the nation Israel has been set aside.
A most common error among Christians over the past many years is the method they use to approach the Bible. They take the liberty of “spiritualizing the Bible.” They attempt to interpret the Bible by applying everything written as though it concerned “the body of Christ,” though it was written mostly concerning Israel. “Spiritualizing the Bible” has become the most common method among Christians, used today to interpret and even develop doctrines as though it were truth for “the body of Christ.” Paul says of this “they teach for doctrine the commandments of men” (Titus 1:14).
Paul’s thirteen epistles are foundational to the gospel of “the grace of God.” While the whole Bible is written for our learning, these thirteen epistles, from Romans to Philemon, are not to be mixed with the remainder of the Bible as the basis for faith and living for “the body of Christ.” Otherwise, by mixing the whole Bible together, we will have a terrible time dealing with the resultant contradictions and confusion.
Apart from rightly dividing the word as prescribed by Paul, how else could we reconcile a salvation that requires faith and works (James 2:20) with a salvation that Paul says is available to us today “by grace through faith that is not of works,” wherein the believer is simply counted as righteous “by faith.”
Now consider and compare these words of James to “the lost Sheep of the house of Israel” with those of Paul to the members of “the body of Christ” at Ephesus.
James here writes “to the lost Sheep of the House of Israel” (James 1:1), NOT Gentiles.
James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:26 (KJV) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Paul here writes to the members of “the body of Christ” at Ephesus:
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace…