Impossible. Let that word sink in. Consider these words by Charles Stanley:

The second truth that is clear from these verses is that what Jesus calls us to do is impossible. It’s not merely difficult. It’s not simply a struggle. It’s not just hard. It’s impossible! He said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis mine). Not a little. Not a few things. Nothing.

This should come as good news. If you are like I was for so long, you may wonder whether something is wrong with you, whether everybody else knows something you don’t. That’s not the case at all. You struggle like you do because you are attempting the impossible. No one can live the Christian life apart from Christ—at least not with the consistency necessary to accomplish what Jesus has called us to accomplish.

In many arenas of life, you have to do multiple things right to have success. For example, if you want to hit a tennis ball correctly, you have to understand…

  • The proper court positioning.
  • The proper stance.
  • The proper grip.
  • The proper back swing.
  • The proper eye contact. You can’t hit a ball you are not looking at. There is a tendency to want to look where you think the ball is going. You look up just in time to see a miss-hit ball.
  • How to put topspin on the ball. (Without topspin you have to hit the ball so softly that gravity has enough time to pull the ball into the court. If you want to stroke the ball with oomph, you have to know how to topspin the ball.)
  • The proper follow-through.

If you get five out of six of these right, the ball will not go where you want it to go. Five out of six equals failure.

If you do everything right, but your grip is off by just a few degrees, the ball will not go anywhere near the right direction.

If you do everything right, but you are in the wrong position on the court, you won’t even touch the ball. You have to get everything right to have success. This is true of almost everything.

If three of four tires on your car have enough air, you won’t make it very far.

If seven of the eight pistons are firing properly the engine won’t run right.

If everything on the car works except the brakes, you will be in big trouble.

If everything works except the lights, you will be in trouble at night.

If you understand everything about how we are transformed except the power of the Holy Spirit, you will never live the Christian life.

If you don’t understand what the Bible teaches about the power of habit, you will struggle. If you don’t understand the role of faith, Christian living will be impossible. What do we need to believe? How do we come to believe? Do we need to just try really hard to believe? If we can’t answer these questions, Christian living will be impossible.

Charles Stanley, The Spirit-Filled Life: Discover the Joy of Surrendering to the Holy Spirit (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014).

The book and study guide are both available on Amazon. The study guide is also avail as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.