As we dive deeper into Jude 24 and the first of our three truths we must believe in order to experience the blessings of the Higher Christian Life, we find ourselves today faced with one all-important question: Is it possible for me to live a holy life? In other words, can I experience victory over my sin and shortcomings on a permanent, daily basis? Can I feel the pleasure of the Lord as I allow Him to live His life through me and therefore reflect the character of the Holy Spirit? And if Jude 24 does teach that God will “keep me from stumbling” in my pursuit of a life of holiness, what part do I play in this odyssey? Is God’s ability to “keep me from stumbling” passive in my life, or is it active? And if God does provide me the ability to live a holy life, why do I not see more change in me?
These are the types of questions that, once settled by faith, can literally change your life. They are liberating and freeing, and will impute confidence in both the Lord and you as His child, once they are settled in your mind. But until they are firmly settled, doubts, fear, and failure will continue to plague your spiritual walk and hinder you from experiencing the Higher Christian Life.
Before we go any further, let’s deal with the elephant in the room, so to speak. Just like our salvation, God’s sovereignty is paramount up until justification, when you become aware of your salvation and God declares you righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). This is all His doing. And after that, our free will in choosing to live, or not live, the sanctified life kicks in, and God is glorified by our choices to “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). God provides for us a choice, but He doesn’t demand we choose His way. Nor does He make us choose to walk according to the Spirit, like robots who are forced to do something they don’t desire to do. God is not glorified by making His creation worship Him. He is glorified when His creation chooses to worship Him. We are always free to give in to the lusts of the flesh and experience the consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit. And we are always free to walk in the Spirit, to surrender to the Spirit, and to obey the Spirit in a way that pleases Him. The choice is always ours.
In the same way, God does not force us to live a sinless life after we come to faith in Him. He desires it, provides for it, and has given us the Holy Spirit (emphasis on Holy) to live His holy life in us, yet the choice is always ours. So is it within God’s power to “keep you from stumbling” in your life of sanctification? Absolutely! Anything less would limit the power of God. And as a sovereign, omnipotent God, He can do anything He desires (Ps. 115:3), to anyone, at any time, without asking permission. So can God force me to never sin again? Yes, He can. He has both the power and ability to do so. But He never will. God does not force His will on us to do something He expects us to do of our own free will. And you will never go a day without sinning. You, on your own, cannot live a sinless life, no matter how much you pray, fast, read your Bible, or go to church. Why? Because we still live in fallen, lustful, selfish, unredeemed bodies “eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).
But the good news is that you can, absolutely, live a life of holiness and be pleasing to Him. And you can do that today.
Can I Really Live a Holy Life, One Pleasing to Him?
The key to the sanctified life is not one of work, but of trust, rest, and surrender. It is not trying to live a life contrary to our fallen nature, only to succeed one moment and fail miserably the next. The victory comes when we stop striving and learn to allow the Spirit to live His holy life through us. And the presence of the Holy Spirit will empower our choices to live holy and give us the ability to stand against temptation and the attacks of the enemy with a supernatural strength that only comes from Him. Therefore we are not all on our own. And we are not left as orphans to fend for ourselves. Consider the following statement:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you – James 4:7.
Our part is to submit (surrender) to God and resist (to stand against) the devil. God’s part is to make sure the devil flees from us. We don’t have the power to force Satan to flee, but God does. So in this God is able to “keep us from stumbling” or falling for Satan’s lies and temptations once we simply resist him.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it – 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Note, when we face temptation God, by His power, will not allow us to be hopelessly tempted to the point of our failure, but will always provide a way of escape. This is something only God can do working, as He does, in the background and behind the scenes. And again, this is another way God “keeps us from stumbling” by supernaturally providing a way of escape and limiting our exposure to various temptations.
This is what a good father would do to his loved children. And it is exactly what our Father does for us. So rejoice in that today.