“Sometimes we are told, ‘We are in a spiritual battle. As soldiers of the cross we must be disciplined; we must put effort and sacrifice into the Christian life.’ Then perhaps a week later, another Christian appears to say the opposite. ‘I was working too hard at being a Christian; God showed me that I had to just relax—rest in the Lord.’[i]”– Erwin Lutzer
Lutzer expresses well the wrestling confusion many of us experience as we bounce back and forth between donning our battle armor and preparing for the fight of our lives and resting in the knowledge that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.[ii]” Personally, I have waffled back and forth many times.
So which is it?
Is it discipline or trust? Is it a battle or rest? Yes.
“Though these viewpoints appear contradictory, they really are not. Only a Christian who is disciplined in the Word of God can rest in the Lord.[iii]”
In my opinion, the Christian that is disciplined and fighting without rest and trust is leaning towards legalism. The Christian that rests and trusts in the Lord but lacks discipline and obedience is leaning towards laziness.
I’m sure there are those of you who do not wrestle with the balance of discipline and rest – but to be honest, in my waffling I begin to feel that when I exercise discipline it is evidence of self-righteousness and legalism. When by faith I claim Galatians 2:20, believing that I am crucified with Christ and He lives in me – I often lay down my battle weapons and find all kinds of excuses to NOT fight because after all, Christ has already claimed the victory for me.
So which is it?
Genuine biblical faith is a marriage of the two— battle … rest.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
[i] Erwin W. Lutzer. Getting to NO: How to Break a Stubborn Habit, Billy Graham Library Selection with permission from David C. Cook, 2007, pg. 93.
[ii] Galatians 2:20
[iii] Lutzer, pg. 93
Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.