june 11

Try Harder...?

By: Pastor Dennis Yim

Key Passage: Galatians 3:1-5

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was

publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works

of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you

now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in

vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of

the law, or by hearing with faith—


Have you ever been told that your failure to obey and conform to Christ’s character is a matter of

you “trying harder.” I’ve heard this growing up: “if you want to grow in your faith in Christ then

you need to try harder.” Another one is: “You simply need to believe more.” That’s essentially

the same message as try harder. American Christianity has adopted many old ancient ideologies

that are quite antithetical to the Gospel. We say to others that if they want to get ahead then they

need to try harder or work harder or do better. Essentially that message is about trusting in our

own will-power or efforts. The Galatians struggled with this. The Gospel doesn’t only save, but

the Gospel also helps us to grow (sanctify). The Apostle Paul doesn’t say that we begin by faith

and then proceed and grow through our own works and efforts. We are not only justified by faith

in Christ, we are also sanctified by faith in Christ. We never leave the Gospel behind.


So then, how do we move forward as Christians? Tim Keller shares his thoughts on this:

The way to progress as a Christian is continually to repent and uproot these systems in

the same way that we became Christians – by the vivid depiction (and re-depiction) of

Christ’s saving work for us, and the abandoning of self-trusting efforts to complete

ourselves. We must go back again and again to the gospel of Christ crucified, so that our

hearts are more deeply gripped by the reality of what He did and who we are in Him. So,

we should not simply say: Lord, I have a problem with anger. Please remove it by your

power! Give me the power to forgive. Rather, we should apply the gospel to ourselves at

that point. Paul would tell us that uncontrolled bitterness is a result of not living in line

with the gospel. It means that though we began with Jesus as Savior, something has now

become our functional savior in place of Jesus. Instead of believing that Christ is our

hope and goodness, we are looking to something else as a hope, to some other way to

make us feel good and complete.


Pray that the Lord will constantly remind you that the Gospel is the very source of your ongoing

acceptance. Pray that He will constantly help you to address any functional saviors that you may

have. Pray that the Lord will help you to engage with what you are worshipping more than Jesus

that causes you to decide to disobey Him.