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The Efforletless Christian Life

by Norman P. Grubb

March-April 1985 – Union Life Magazine

Q. I am honestly confused about this whole idea of an “effortless” Christian life. Paul talks so much about working out your own salvation and provoking one another unto love and good works. Christ tells us to “seek,” “to be on your guard,” “to deny yourself and take up your cross.” Paul also says to “stop grumbling and complaining,” to “forgive,” so that this whole passive life—letting Christ live through me—sounds great, but is confusing me.

Bill, Greenville, SC

A. THIS IS NOT a passive life, but a life of far more vibrant activity than the former one of self-effort. Galatians 2:20 give us our key. We start by moving by faith into the marvel of the “replaced life,” where the “I”, who was formerly expressing the Spirit of error, is crucified with Christ, the expressor of the Spirit of truth. “Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” But then we move on by the Spirit into the restored, liberated “I”—which is really, of course, He in me as me—as Paul says, “the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God.” Here we are back again in full self-acting self, yet inwardly fixed and knowing it is not really we, but He! The eternal paradox! Or put it, if you like, by combining Paul’s word in Philippians 2:13 with his previous statement of 2:12!

In this new inner union relationship, all those “commands” and “exhortations” are spontaneously fulfilled by us, for it is the Spirit who “causes” us to walk in His ways (Ezek. 36:27). Just as once you went through the chore of learning to drive you now spontaneously keep all the laws of the road!