Many short summaries of this kind are written as ‘how to’ guides. Whilst there is often nothing specifically ‘wrong’ or unbiblical in the advice provided, the emphasis is on what we as believers should do. After all, they are ‘how to’, not ‘how we’, guides.
The limitation of this approach will be apparent to anyone who has tried to follow the guidance. We end up disappointed with ourselves that we continue to fail, or at least are not growing as Christians as fast as we think we should.
Where to focus your attention
Yes, of course we should join a sound church, pray, read our Bibles and use all the other means of grace. But here’s the thing. Focus your attention on your Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than what you could or should be doing. It is because of him and his finished work on the cross that your sins – past, present and future – have been dealt with. It is because of him that you are justified – declared righteous no less – which means that you are eternally secure. Nothing can pluck you from your Saviour’s hand, which crucially gives you the space to grow.
Yes, you are exhorted to be holy (1 Peter 1: 15) and yes, you can hope for progress because God’s grace is now working in you (Romans 6: 14). But just as we are totally dependent upon God’s grace for our salvation, we are equally dependent for all our obedience, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2: 13). What we can come to see is that the plan God has for us is not necessarily one of rapid growth, but of real, ongoing struggle, developing in us a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51: 17) that depends wholly on him for everything and at all times.
What we will want to do
Deeply grateful for the space to grow – not the license to sin (Romans 6: 1, 15) – we will want to please our heavenly Father. Mindful of our weakness and dependence, we will walk and talk with him every step of the way. Our relationship with God, in which we get to know his heart and share ours with him, becomes our primary focus. We turn immediately to him when we sin, grieving over it and seeking his forgiveness; and we praise him for our Saviour, who has accomplished everything for salvation and sanctification.
The Father predestined us; called us; justified us; and will glorify us (Romans 8: 30) We have been cleansed, forgiven and adopted. We are welcomed, accepted and valued; no longer rejected and outcast. Despite this wonderful truth, we will continue to sin because of our old sinful nature, even when we are new creations. I urge you to cling to your Saviour and his amazing grace, seeking his blessing and help in every situation, just as Jacob did (Genesis 32). Why would you want to continue wallowing in the mire?