– Watchman Nee
If you think you can overcome sin by your own strength, then you’re making the same mistake I did when I was a “babe in Christ.” Using that reasoning, I guess I must have also believed I could pull myself up by my own bootstraps. Of course, that’s impossible, so I learned to lean upon the Lord and for Him to strengthen me. I can’t do anything on my own, but in Christ, I can do all things, but only because He strengthens me, just as He did the Apostle Paul and just as He will you (Phil 4:13).
We can’t declare ourselves righteous before God any more than I can stand in a garage and declare, “I’m a car!” I know that sounds silly, but you see my point don’t you? This is why I have memorized one of my favorite Bible verses, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor 5:21). Our righteousness is found only in Christ and nowhere else (including in ourselves).
Returning again to my young Christian days, I thought, “Now that I’m saved, I need to make sure I get there and behave in a godly manner,” however I failed over and over again. I knew the Bible teaches that we’re not saved by works (Eph 2:8-9), but somehow I still tried to work my way to heaven. Only Jesus Christ is the way to heaven, not works. We’re not saved by works…but we’re saved to do works. That’s a huge difference; the difference between heaven and hell.
The Apostle Paul correctly said “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13), so following this truth, this must also be true; “I can’t do anything unless God strengthens me.” Jesus says much the same thing that apart from Him we can’t do anything (John 15:5). Acknowledging that truth will help us to depend on His strength and not ours.
If we can remember that we can’t overcome the world by ourselves, that we can’t declare ourselves righteous, that we can’t work our way to heaven, and we can do nothing in our own strength, we’ll run to God for the strength when needed. Believe me; it took me a while to get to that point.