True Spirituality

No Mechanical Solutions to the Christian Life

And this is the eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.

John 17:3

Twenty years ago, I read True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer and there found a friend and a true spiritual guide. Schaeffer’s book taught me that the effects of this fallen world are still with us and will continue to be with us till the Second Coming of Christ. Perfection in personal holiness, absence of trials and troubles, and faultless behavior from others cannot be expected this side of eternity. Substantial healing in this life can occur, but pre-Fall conditions cannot be anticipated until we see Christ arriving in the glory clouds.

What does this doctrinal truth of the Fall do for us?  Understanding the problems created by the Fall properly frees us from personal perfectionism, unreasonable expectations of others, and unrealistic standards. This side of heaven, we expect to experience struggles, disappointments, and shortcomings. With the effect of the Fall acknowledged, we are freed to enjoy Jesus. We can trust him with the up’s and down’s of life without bitterness, anger, and resentment.

We wait for the resurrection of the body. We wait for the perfect application of the finished work of Christ for the whole of man. We wait for this, but on this side of the Fall, and before Christ comes, we must not insist on “perfection or nothing,” or we will end with “nothing.” And this is as true in the area of psychological problems as it is in all other areas of life (p. 136).

Second, Schaeffer taught me that walking with Jesus is not a formula. The Christian life is on-going, intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Schaeffer taught that a relationship with Jesus is not about taking orders, but is a love relationship with the one who loves you most (John 15:15). True spirituality is not a hyper-spirituality: both feet are planted firmly on earth while looking to Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father (Col. 3:1-4).

The Christian life, true spirituality, can never have a mechanical solution. The real solution is being cast up into moment-by-moment communion, personal communion, with God himself, and letting Christ’s truth flow through me through the agency of the Holy Spirit (p.88).

Last, victory over sin is possible in this life while admitting that moral perfection is not obtainable till the next life. Victory over sin is not achieved by our own power. We stand trusting Christ’s finished work on the Cross as our victory over the values of the world, the temptations of the flesh, and the wiles of Satan. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to say,”no,” to ungodliness and we are strengthened by grace to say, “yes,” to righteousness (Titus 2:11-12).

True spirituality is not achieved in our own energy. . . . It is not that I disappear. I am very much in existence. However, as finite and marked by the Fall, I cannot do the Lord’s work in the lost abnormal, broken world in my own energy, my own cleverness, my own persistence, “charisma,” my own spiritual gifts and so on. I am there, but I must not count on these things as the source of power. Consciously, the power must not be of myself. It is the power of the crucified, risen, and glorified Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, by faith (p. 253).

Francis A. Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1971).

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