1 John 5:3-5 (NKJV) 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
It is amazing to hear so many pastors on the radio who fail to grasp the reality of the Christian faith. I am not questioning their salvation, but they lack in understanding as they insist that true followers of Jesus will attain certain levels of behavior based on their own determination. This kind of teaching can leave many people discouraged as they try to improve their righteousness through their own efforts.
It is totally overwhelming to hear we are expected to keep God's commandments. Even Paul, the great apostle had to admit in Romans 7:14 (NKJV) 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. Telling people that they have to accomplish great feats of obedience is like asking a person to lift himself 3' off the ground through his own efforts.
Let's start with a Bible passage found in Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV). 12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Only a foolish parent would send his son to kill a Kodiak bear with a pen knife. God knows His children are under attack by principalities far more powerful than they are and far more wiser than they are.
God loves His children and He knows that they cannot carry out the warfare facing them on their own power. Look carefully at our opening verse in this article. It clearly states that only those born of God will overcome the world. It is people that are given faith by the Holy Spirit as the hear the Word of God that are overcomers.
It is God, who calls us to faith in the first place. Jesus made this clear in John 6:44-45 (NKJV)
44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' There-fore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Would we send a blind man to find a pair of scissors in a strange setting? God, our Father, knows those who have hearts that are humble, who hate the sin that would defy God's will, and He singles out people longing to be His children and makes this possible.
Our Father comes to us through the reading and teaching of His word which introduces us to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Through the Holy Spirit, He offers the gift of faith and the grace that is needed to include us with those who are born of God. We are allowed to say, "Yes" to the Holy Spirit, and we are allowed to say, "No," to the Holy Spirit, but we cannot come to a saving faith except the Father calls us to faith in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Those, who say, "Yes," submit themselves to the will of God as they allow the Holy Spirit to give them regeneration, i.e., they are transformed by God by receiving a whole new nature that will dominate the old nature that once was leading us away from our God, enticing us with the temptations of this world. We are told of this transformation in the lives of those who have accepted the Father's call in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV). 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. It is only those called by the Father, given faith by the Holy Spirit who are transformed into new creatures that love Jesus and are empowered by the Holy Spirit dwelling in them through faithful studying and hearing God's word that forms them into little Christs, i.e., people who adore the Son of God and seek to become more and more like their Lord.
It is people like this that look forward to hearing God's word preach and the reception of the body and blood of Jesus in holy communion. The more they grow in this faith that has been given to them, the more they become overcomers. No true child of God, baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, remains under the bondage and dominion of sin according to the apostle Paul in Romans 6:14 (NKJV). 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. God's people are not perfect so they daily confess their sins claiming the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but they are no longer enslaved to any sin that leads to death, i.e., separation from God. It is God's great love, God's great mercy and God's Holy Spirit that nurtures our faith in Jesus and transforms us into the people of God.
It is not realistic for anyone to talk as if people can become children of God by making the decision to be a child of God on one's own. We must be called by God who calls all those whose hearts are humble and repentant. We are not able to transform ourselves on our own, but only through the Holy Spirit within us are we able to walk as children of God with a genuine love for God's holy righteousness.