I Give Up! Why You Can’t Live the Christian Life/Program 3
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne A. Barber; ©2012|
|In this program, Dr. Wayne Barber shares that every Christian continues to face temptation, yet also lives with Christ’s power to face and overcome sin. By relying on “Christ in us,” we find the strength to make choices we could never accomplish in our own power. You’ll discover the way He continues to empower you to live for Him each moment of each day.|
Today on the John Ankerberg Show: Have you ever said, “I give up! I can’t live the Christian life”?
- Dr. Wayne Barber: I wake up some mornings, John, and I will be honest with you, I don’t even feel like a Christian. I could care less about wanting to be one. I mean, that’s just the way I wake up. You heard about the old boy who said, “Lord, I haven’t coveted. I haven’t had a lustful thought. I haven’t had lied. I have not cheated, but I am about to get out of bed.”
- I don’t have the ability to do what God’s told me to do. I can’t live the Christian life. So therefore someone lives in me to strengthen me, to enable me to give me the ability to do what He expects out of me.
- Yes, I have a brand new nature, I’ve partaken of the nature of Christ. But I still have my flesh to deal with and that is a battle royale that begins the moment we receive Christ into our hearts.
My guest today is conference speaker, author and pastor Dr. Wayne Barber, pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- Barber: He lives within us to enable everything He demands from us. That’s the good news. That’s the beauty of the gospel. It did not just stop at salvation. It started. Christ comes to live in us. He is our eternal life. He is our life and that’s what people need to understand. The same way you received Him, the same way you walk it. Just trust Him.
We invite you join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. I’m so glad you joined us today. I’m John Ankerberg, and we have a terrific guest. His name is Dr. Wayne Barber. He is the best, I believe, at helping Christians who have grown up in church all of their lives, they’ve listened to sermons about living the Christian life and they have tried and they have tried and they’ve failed miserably. And they’re discouraged, they’re frustrated. Maybe I’m talking about you. Some have even decided it can’t work for me. That’s not for me. I’m gone, okay. I’m so glad that you tuned in today, because that’s what we’re going to talk about. And, Wayne, let’s start it this way: you said that you yourself were frustrated for many years in trying to live the Christian life. You said it was even like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together that was missing a piece. Start us off today.
- Barber: Well, you know, when you put a jigsaw puzzle together and if you don’t have every piece, the picture is not clear. That is exactly the story of my Christian life. When I was growing up we used to do that at holidays, to have a 1,000 or so piece puzzle, and I’d hide a piece. Well, it was so frustrating when you get right down to the last part and that piece is missing. The piece that was missing from me was, I thought that now that I’m saved, it was up to me from that point on. And I blew it big time, trying to meet everybody’s needs, trying to do everything that’s right, and realized I couldn’t do any of it. And that’s that piece I was missing was that the Christian’s responsibility is learning to respond to His ability, because He now lives in us.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I want you to relate to the folks that this can really be frustrating. And you’ve got this great humorous story about your daughter, you and your son and your daughter. You used to take them to school in the morning, and tell them what happened one morning.
- Barber: Well, one morning, Stephanie was habitually late and she always had to get her hair right for whatever reason. And she would brush it and brush it and brush it. And I would go up and I would say, “Stephanie, it’s time to go in just about 10 minutes.” “I hear you, daddy.” Now, Steven was my more sensitive child. Stephanie was more nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe. And I said, okay. So my son and I would sit out in the car. We got to know each other real well waiting on my daughter. But one morning she came out of the back and she came across the back deck and she slipped on the ice. And she was going to a Christian school so they wore dresses and hose, and it tore her hose and messed up her knee. But it was too late to go back and change. So she got in the car and she slammed the door, and I told my son before she got in the car, I said, “Steven, it’s going to be good today.” And she gets in the car. She always had something to say. And she says, “Daddy, I want to tell you something.” I said, “Okay, Stephanie. What is it?” “You cannot live the Christian life. I don’t care what you preach, daddy, but you cannot live the Christian life.” I said, “Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll try to encourage somebody today.” But on the way to school it began to dawn on me she is exactly right. So before she got out of the car I said, “Stephanie, thank you for reminding me that I can’t live the Christian life, that Christ comes to live in me to do through me what I could never do.”
- Ankerberg: Now, there are a lot of other believers that are just like Stephanie, that say, “Wayne, I have heard all the messages about what I’m supposed to do. I have tried and I can’t do it. I’ve failed miserably. What is that piece that I’m missing?”
- Barber: Yes, that piece is Christ in us. Let me introduce you to Bubba.
- Ankerberg: Okay.
- Barber: I call him Bubba.
- Ankerberg: You love to fish and hunt!
- Barber: I’m going to make him famous. Bubba, before the cross is pretty limp. I mean there’s not a thing he can do to earn his way into salvation. A person is saved by faith, by grace; it’s not by any work that a man does. Bubba can do nothing to measure to the standard that God has. Well, once he gets saved, guess what happens? Christ comes to live within him. Now Bubba can do all kinds of things, not because of Bubba, but because of the life that is within him. However, when Bubba chooses to overlook that and do it himself, he becomes the same Bubba. On either side of the cross the flesh always fails to measure to the law. And the law is God’s demand of His character in our life, and none of us can do that. That’s why Christ comes to live in us.
- Ankerberg: Give me some verses that describe what you’re talking about.
- Barber: I think Romans 6 is about as clear as any passage.
- Ankerberg: Take it through.
- Barber: He starts off he says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin?” And the interesting thing here is, he puts the definite article before sin. Now, let me explain that. If I had a bunch of cups here in front of me and I said pick up a cup, but I did not put the definite article in, you could pick any cup you want. But if I put the definite article in, there’s a specific cup that I want to be picked up. It’s just something that we need to understand about the definite article. He puts the definite article before the word “sin” all the way down to verse 14. Then he changes it, and drops it, and then he picks it back up again.
- So what is he talking about? He says that we continue in sin. It’s not a particular sin. He’s talking about the attitude of sin, which John says in 1 John is lawlessness. All sin is lawlessness. And so when I want to do my own thing, I’m not going to listen to anybody. I’m going to live this Christian life in my own strength. That’s where we fail. He said, “Are we to continue in doing it our own way so that grace might increase?” Then he says, “May it never be!” I love that phrase. It’s used several times in Romans. It’s like my son saying, “Daddy, can I borrow your golf clubs?” May it never be! You borrowed my last set and I didn’t get them back. “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” There you goes. Died to that way of living, on our own, doing what we want to do. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” And then, in verse 4, picking up, “Therefore,” I love the “therefores” in Scripture, because what are they there for? He said, “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
- Now that life, that newness of life, there are two words for “new.” There is a word neos; Wayne bought another car, but it was new to him, but it was a car. Kainos is the word that means qualitatively, totally, never seen before: Wayne went out and bought a spaceship. That makes it a quite different, it’s a newness of life. That is why in Romans 12 he says, you know, when he talks about it he says, “Present your body as a living sacrifice, which is your spiritual service of worship.” So there’s a brand new way of living. But the key is that Christ is that life that comes to live within us. I think Galatians also picks up on that, if you want to go there.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, two questions about what you just said. One is, people want to know, what does it mean that I died in Christ? When did that happen? How did it happen? And what does baptism, are you talking about being immersed in water, or what are you talking about?
- Barber: Alright, first of all, the dying takes place the moment you receive Christ. You are no longer the same. You have died to an old way of living. You have entered into a brand new way of life.
- Ankerberg: Even if we didn’t know it?
- Barber: Even if we didn’t know it. Now the key is, we’ve got to renew our minds to understand that from God’s Word. But as we learn to understand that truth, then it makes sense why Christ came to live in us.
- Ankerberg: So God says to us, once we have accepted Christ, something happened to you.
- Barber: That’s right. You are a brand new creature.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, now and I love that deal, you know it’s not a new car in the driveway, it’s a spaceship. You’ve got a completely new thing. But people say, “Wayne, if God has made me a completely different person in Christ, how come I don’t feel it?
- Barber: Well, I think that’s the problem. We don’t understand the deceitfulness of our flesh. We drag the mentality of the world right into our Christian life. I played ball in college, and I remember the signs on the wall in the locker room, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” “Barber, run another lap.” “I can’t.” “Then run 10 more.” I mean, suck it up. You can do it, boy. And we drag that attitude, that we can somehow accomplish something that God expects, right into our Christian life. And there’s where your downfall is. If it’s about my works, then I’m responding to my ability and not to His ability.
- Ankerberg: Alright, and baptism. Are we talking about the actual act, or are we talking about that as an illustration of what happened?
- Barber: No, it’s an illustration of what happened. If I had a bowl of dye—red dye; it’s a clear bowl—and I took a white cloth and I put it down in that red dye, I have baptized it into it. A lot of my friends say no, no, no. It means identification. Well, yeah, but the secular Greek, when a person drowned it would use this word, so it probably meant that too. But as you put it down into, immerse it into it, in that red dye, something happens to that cloth. It is no longer a white cloth. Not only is it in the dye, the dye is in the cloth. And that’s that picture of what happens to us at salvation. We are buried in the likeness of Christ, raised to walk in newness of life. And as He died on that cross, we died with Him. And that becomes appropriated the moment that we bow and receive Him into our hearts. We become a brand new person.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. This is good stuff and it is what God’s Word says, and yet people have such a hard time understanding it and actually believing it and grasping it. So when we come back, I’m going to ask you the question: If this is all true, why do I have such a hard time? What is this thing that the Bible calls my flesh? I want you to define that and get the verses out, because they might just say, well, we’re making that up. But I want you to show them from God’s Word this is what God says. And this is the key to everything here. Folks, stick with us, you’re going to like this. We’ll be right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. And we’re talking about this problem, folks. If you’re a Christian and you’ve accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, He has come into your life, but you’re having frustration at trying to live the Christian life. We’re talking about what God says happened to you, why you’ve got that frustration, why there’s a struggle and what is the victory that God has promised us? How do we get there, okay? Very practical stuff. So zero in on what Wayne is saying. Wayne, pick it up again. Why is it so hard for us to live the Christian life?
- Barber: Okay, well, let’s pick up in verse 5. We were in Romans 6. We got through verse 4. Verse 5 says, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” I love that. The word “united” is a compound word. And a lot of prepositions are used in the Greek language which helps define the word. And the word “with,” they have more than one word for “with”.
- Ankerberg: For “with.”
- Barber: We have one word for “with,” but they’ve two. The word sun, and the word meta. Meta is the “with” of association. Sun is the “with” of intimacy, to where you cannot separate. And it’s very important that we understand the difference there. It’s kind of like, I love biscuits. I just love biscuits. I cannot help it. We lived out west for several years, nine years in Albuquerque, and they have tortillas. Now, they’re good. They really are good, but there’s nothing like a good old cathead southern biscuit.
- Now, let’s just say we’re making some biscuits right now, and we’ve got a bowl. We put all the ingredients in that bowl. And which word would we have to use if we used in the word “with” in the Greek? It would have to be meta, because you can add to it; if you really knew what you were doing you could take away. Some people say you add lard, but that’s what you look like after it’s over with. But you mix it all together and you put it in the shape of a big cathead biscuit. You know what I’m talking about, a large biscuit, let’s just leave it there, not a kitty cat, but a large biscuit. And you put it in the oven and you bake it. You pull it out. Are those ingredients together? Oh, yes! But if you were a Greek, you would have to change that preposition. No longer are they just with each other, they’re a part of each other. They have been baked into each other. So to me what Paul is saying, in my Bubba vernacular, is that we’re biscuits for Jesus. Jesus has baked Himself into our lives.
- Now, but here comes the struggle in verse 6. “Knowing this,” and that means know by experience. We’re going to find out real quick “that our old self was crucified with Him in order that our body of sin”—isn’t it interesting what he calls the body, our body, bodies of sin—“the body of sin might be done away with.” Now that’s an interesting translation. Some say destroyed. Well, yes and no. The word is katargeo—kata, down, argeo, to idle, to put into neutral.
- When I was growing up we had one of the two ugliest cars ever made, I think. Not an Edsel, that was pretty bad, but this was a Studebaker. Remember the Studebaker? And they looked like a bullet. I mean, if you got certain types, where’s the front, where’s the back? And my daddy did not have the opportunity to choose, because we did not have a lot of money, so he had to buy what was available. We bought a yellow one. And I was thinking as a young person, “Dad, don’t buy a yellow Studebaker.” And we didn’t have a driveway or a garage, so he would park it up in the yard. “No, no, no, dad, park it two blocks away. We’ll walk to it. We don’t want anybody to know we have it.”
- Well, one day I got in it and I said, you know, “I’m going to learn to drive this thing.” Back then, you know, there was no automatic shifts. You had to drive straight shift or ride a bicycle. And so I got in it, and I started the thing up. And if you’ve had that experience, and most of us have, of forgetting to put it in neutral and leaving it in gear and not push the clutch in, and you try to start it and it jerks a knot in your neck. And, you know, I’m thinking, oh, man. So I finally learned to push the clutch in and I finally learned to coordinate with the gas pedal and move it forward 20 feet. I wouldn’t go any further because we had a wall in the back of our yard and if I went over that I was dead. So I went 20 feet forward, and 20 feet backward, forward, back. As a matter of fact, when I got my driver’s license, 17 years old, I think I’d driven 20,000 miles, 20 foot forward, 20 foot back.
- But the thing that hit me was, if I put it in neutral, or pushed the clutch in, I could step down on that gas pedal and it would roar with the best of them, the power would make a noise. However, it had no effect on the car, because it had been disengaged by the clutch. And when Christ came to our life He disengaged, in that sense, rendered sin powerless, when He came into our life.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, you’ve got that story about, you loved to hunt and fish and so on, you were paddling your canoe down this really wild river, and tell them what happened.
- Barber: Well, and the river got a hold of me and I couldn’t get out of it. The current was so strong.
- Ankerberg: You flipped the canoe right over.
- Barber: Flipped the canoe. In fact, through the grace of God that I made it through that, but I realized that current was carrying me. I could not do a thing against that current. It was so strong. I shouldn’t have been on the river to start with; it was at flood stage, which wasn’t a real smart idea. But I finally found a branch somewhere that I could grab hold of and it swung me around on to the bank. But that’s exactly the way it is when we think we can do it. We get sucked into the current of the flesh and the flesh pulls us right under and frustrates us to no end. For instance, I have people say, “Well, I don’t believe that, Wayne. I believe you can do it.” Really? God commands us to love our wives as Christ loved the church. Any takers? I’m not raising my hand. He lives within us to enable everything He demands from us. That’s the good news. That’s the beauty of the gospel. It didn’t just stop at salvation. It started. Christ comes to live in us. He is our eternal life. He is our life, and that’s what people need to understand. The same way you received Him, the same way you walk it. Just trust Him, but don’t trust the flesh, because it will suck you under; and there’s a real devastation from it.
- Ankerberg: What is the next part of the verse?
- Barber: Well, he says, “[the body of sin] be done away with, so that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” And that’s the whole problem. We are slaves, not by choice as much as by default. When we choose not to say yes to Christ, we’re automatically slaves to sin at that point. Self comes in. The middle letter of the word “sin” to me identifies it. It’s “I”; the middle letter of the word “pride,” “I”. When I get into the picture I’m going to mess it up royally.
- Ankerberg: Wayne, talk more about this thing is that when we were saved, Christ put us in neutral. Otherwise we were in drive, going with our passions and our lusts and our desires, okay. We had no power over that. But He has put us into neutral so now He has given us a choice. He’s taken us out of the river. The river is still roaring. We step back in boy, boom, we’re gone again. Talk a little bit more about that.
- Barber: Okay, you know, I think Paul helps us to understand that when he says in Galatians 5:16, “But I say,” and he is talking to them very pointedly, “walk by the Spirit.” Now, that’s a choice. That’s a choice we have to make. “By” means “according to.” The Spirit works according to the Word. So as we’re willing to submit to Christ, submit to His Word, we walk by the Spirit, he says, “and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Uh oh! So we still have the desire of the flesh. He’s speaking to believers, not speaking to lost people. Then he says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, for those are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please.” And that really is in the present tense, “keep on doing the things that you please.” In other words, it’s a dead end street. When I choose Wayne over Christ in my life, anything He demands me to do, He lives within me to enable me. And the problem is, I think so many of us don’t realize how deceiving the desires of the flesh are.
- Ankerberg: We’re going to talk about that more next week. But I want us to start even at the basic thing. There are some Christians that say, “I’ve sinned so much, I don’t think this is even possible.” But they really did believe in Christ, okay. And they feel guilty and frustrated because they’re not living this way. You really encourage them by saying, look, start by just asking God to give you more of a desire. Ask God to open up the Word on that specific topic, and then pray that He would start to change you. Because your whole message is, we can’t change ourselves. This is something that Christ has got to do. He is now in there, but we’ve got to ask Him.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: What else would you say?
- Barber: Well, I would just, that’s said pretty well. If I’m not willing to understand what I can’t do, look out, because that’s where I’m going to mess up. And so many things we think we can do, and that’s where God showed me very quickly. Driving home from after a church service and just had a wonderful time in the Word, and there’s somebody gets in front of me that I want to flat out run over. I mean, where did they even learn to drive, get their driver’s license, Sears & Roebucks? And I’m following them and I get livid. And I’m thinking, “Wait a minute, where did that come from?” How deceitful the flesh is to make us think it’s about us when it’s about Christ.
- Ankerberg: Alright, next week, folks, you’re not going to miss this topic. Our topic is going to be “our flesh is addicted to sin.” Our flesh is addicted to sin, but Christ has provided the way of victory. He is our victory. We don’t know how to apply what the Bible is talking about. And Wayne is going to go through this thing of what the Bible says about this topic. So let me ask you this: Are you satisfied with your Christian life, or do you know there are certain things that should not be there and you just, you’ve tried and tried and tried, you’ve never gotten over them, you’ve never lived the way Christ wants you to do it, and you’ve just kind of given up? Next week, please don’t miss the program. We’re going to tell you what Christ says in the Word of God. Join us then.