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Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37518
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

 Greatest spiritual challenges

Nothing much has changed in human and church history:


A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:

1. Materialism.
2. Pride.
3. Self-centeredness.
4. Laziness.
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness.
5. (Tie) Sexual lust.
7. Envy.
8. Gluttony.
9. Lying.

Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).

Discipleship Journal, November / December 1992.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2018/9/15 9:45Profile

Joined: 2006/8/10
Posts: 534

 Re: Greatest spiritual challenges

I noticed that this survey was taken back in 1992, before the internet was a thing. I would venture to say that if the survey was taken today, digital addiction would be way high up on the list. Whether it is computers, tablets, cell phones, game consoles, etc., having one's life dominated by online activity is a huge problem today.


 2018/9/15 16:45Profile

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3305


These two are tied? it makes my head hurt trying to figure that out.

5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness.
5. (Tie) Sexual lust.


 2018/9/15 18:41Profile

Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2007
Joplin, Missouri


I have noticed that the externals, addiction, sexual sin, etc., are almost never the issue that needs to be dealt with. They are the outward manifestations of the problem that really needs dealt with. What defiles us comes from within our hearts and are only made manifest to everyone else's eyes through our flesh.

Another poster recently started a thread that highlighted the victory that we have through Christ. Every one of these items on the list need not be an problem for believers at all. Every provision has been made to allow us to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. In fact, we are not only to put to death sin in our life, but we are to also mortify the lust. But the only way we can do this is to die. Jesus bids us, "Come and die."

There have also been threads recently about the nature of salvation. We have reduced it to saying a prayer for the sake of earning heaven and avoiding hell. We even say things like, "There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun." Statements like this reveal where our heart and mind are focused.

But it has always been about so much more than this. We are called to lose our own life now to gain His life now. We are to be as He is, right now, in this Earth. We are to bear His glory and His image. We are to be partakers in the divine nature. We are to be changed into His image from glory to glory. The demonic powers and principalities are supposed to look at us and say, "Wow, look at the wisdom of God."

This kind of walk has total victory over everything on the list in the article. Not that we are never tempted, but that we have His life and power and through this we walk in victory over temptation. It is a life of victory and power that He has provided for us when we are abandoned to Him. It is death, resurrection, and new life. But it takes death to self and a level of intimacy with Him that I am afraid most of us have never entered into. (On a personal level, I see how short of this I have fallen. Yet I see the glory of it and am committed to going there.)

This list has not changed much since Paul wrote his letter to the Galatian church. But the power of God that flowed through the apostles has not changed one iota either and the victory they wrote about is still available, praise God!


 2018/9/16 7:25Profile

Joined: 2011/8/14
Posts: 1081


I appreciate the truth and depth in which you speak.

God bless you in this endeavor,



 2018/9/16 9:20Profile

Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 1162
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re: Missing it.

Methinks the list is really single-faceted and it gets you to think that's all there is to Christian life is making sure you don't sin any of those 'hot-list items'.

That list while completely true is only part of a the picture.

I see Jesus addressed this differently and so did the apostles.

For me there are other real spiritual challenges never seem to make any list.

Think of it this way. Is holiness the end all? Is making sure our day is as sinning-less as we can get it and if we have a good day we have met the challenges offered in scripture? I think we would still be a thousand miles away from meeting even one challenge.

Jesus holiness was a means not the end. The end was to please his Father and live out the calling and life God had purposed for him.
For many of us it would seem our spiritual challenges are all on greg's list. But when you have not gossiped or lusted or coveted that day what more did you than some pagan who may have exceeded your 'don't-do list'?
Did you challenge yourself to share the gospel? Did you challenge yourself to pray for the sick? Did you challenge yourself to offer aid to the poor? Did you challenge yourself to visit the fatherless or widow?

It's been my observation, we challenge ourselves to not watch certain TV programs but never challenge ourselves to visit a nursing home, or witness on the streets or go where the homeless are and bring them the gospel. All of those things are left out of the list so many times its astonishing that our Christianity is reduced to making sure we are up to par on moral issues and yet Matt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these,you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

What about this text? Doesn't this text offer the Church any spiritual challenges? I don't mean to reduce Christianity to 'saving our own skin', so we get guilted up and go do something for a couple of weeks and feel better.

Spiritual challenges are we more than 'don't do lists', they are the 'DOINGS' that God has purposed for us all to do.


 2018/9/17 11:28Profile

Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 1162
Snoqualmie, WA


These two quote taken from Greg's posting on Carter Conlon's new book on prayer depict clearly the same point I am making in regards to spiritual challenges.

So, when you're not a charismatic and you've poo pooed the gifts, or prophets or the rest what do you look forward too? Well, a good ole Revival with some few saved and some going to the altar and some good shake-n-bake preachin.
The pit one falls into is the exact same for those whom Carter refers to in these quote...that pit is "pointing our spiritual challenges inward".

"The spirit of the Lord was upon him for those reasons. There was a clear reason why God's Spirit was upon the physical man Jesus Christ. Then he said to us, 'As the father has sent me, now I send you.' In other words, the calling on my life and yours is no different than His. Now obviously, we're not the Savior. Don't misunderstand me. But the calling is the same. The calling is to the oppressed, the addicted, the marginalized, the afflicted, the spiritually blind, the hopeless, the captivated and certainly to God."

He continues: "So the question that comes to mind is, are we willing to be the church again? Are we going to get back to our identity? Are we going to figure out what our purpose is? Are we going to have the guts to take a look at ourselves and say do we really look like the church in the book of Acts, or have we become something else? What are we as a people? What goes on in our conventions? What's our focus when we need to worship together? Are we just into this constant goofiness, or are we really going to go with God and do the work he's called us to do on the earth? You can understand I'm passionate about this because I've lived it, I've seen it, I've walked in it, I've tasted in it

Repentance from sin to be the "Church"? Well, unless some real clear corrections are made you can read a 'hot list' of sins to 86 from your life and you will still miss the challenge of being the "Church".
Church is what? Going to service, listening to a sermon, singing a few Christian songs, giving an offering, chatting with friends, getting the kids to settle down in the car, finding out if someone of your friends wants to come over and watch football with you or go out to eat with you. Church is making sure the teens don't cop an attitude while listening to a boring sermon or stare mesmerized by their cell phones fading everything out. What is Church? its the extra step of going to a womens group to talk it up about babies, cribs, food, what the cat did, or what the husband attempted to fix and couldn't. Or, if your a man, its about a camaraderie you developed with men you don't know from Church, its about reading the bible and getting asked uncomfortable questions you have no answer to. For other men its talk about job situations, marriage difficulties, about where the best place is to buy used tires for the dune buggy.

When this kind of picture of 'what a Church is' remains intact in the minds of those whom you have told to pray more, repent more, do sin less the end of it all is a nagging question that arises...but never said aloud "Why do all that praying and repenting and embarrassing confession stuff when after a short while I will be asked nothing, be expected to do nothing and have no more concern for my spiritual well being than when I did none of the 'spiritual disciplines' before. What's the point of getting all spiritual when the pastor, elders and those considered spiritual will change nothing, do nothing different or expect any difference in me or my family? Truth be told its just more Christian "cheer leading rally" stuff.

Let's make sure we get out definitions straight.
Definition of a Christian:
"A person who has a new vernacular centered in various passages from the bible"
"A person who has made new friends and acts in accordance with the rules and traditions of those highly esteemed in the eyes of club members"
"A person who attends a lecture and has their children draw pictures of stories from the bible"
"A person who has found Jesus is a means to helping them get a mate, or get a job, or get a few friends or get them out of jail or subdue complaining spouses"

What you don't need to be a Christian
"you do not need to seek God's kingdom first"
"you do not have to carry a cross"
"you do not need to recon yourself dead to the world"
"you do not need to read the bible often"
"you do not need to pray often"
"you do not need to share your faith with sinners"
"you do not need to consider anyone sinners"
"you do not need to believe in Hell"
"you do not need to sacrifice anything for Jesus"

What you do need to be a Christian
"you need to abide by the Christians rules"
"you need to look like a Christian"
"you need to talk like a Christian"
"You need to go to a Church where the above is easy to do"
"you need to purchase a bible"
"you need to give an occasional offering"
"you need to stay awake in service"
"you need to make mommy friends with kids ( for women)
"you need to make guy friends with sports (for men)

If you do the dos and remember what you don't need to do, you will pass muster in almost every single Church and you will be well liked, friended, asked to lunch, invited to groups...and here is the best of the best...people will believe you are spiritually growing, learning and becoming a better and better Christian.

Carter Conlon's question "are we willing to get back to our identity?" I would ask, what identity is it we seek? Is it what we already have or is it something else?

I realize I am talking in the wind and the normal response is "whatever". But if the bible is true...Matthew 25 judgment is coming our way and I don't see how hell fire is unavoidable for the above aforementioned "Christians".


 2018/9/17 14:01Profile

Joined: 2006/5/11
Posts: 449
West Sussex, England

 Re: Greatest spiritual challenges

I've found this verse and lifestyle to be important. As long as sin is in this world.

Genesis 4 v 7
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

David Keel

 2018/9/17 23:54Profile

Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2007
Joplin, Missouri


Think of it this way. Is holiness the end all? Is making sure our day is as sinning-less as we can get it and if we have a good day we have met the challenges offered in scripture? I think we would still be a thousand miles away from meeting even one challenge.

Great post. Holiness is not the goal. It is not the point. Holiness is the natural byproduct, the outflow, the fruit if you will of a life lived in relationship. If I have died to self and are alive in Him, if I am living a life of intimacy with Him, if He is my passion and my pursuit, then He will work in me and through me to produce holiness. Holiness that comes from my own efforts to "be good" or to "please God through my actions" is really just a fleshly effort. As hard as I try, the wellspring from which my holy action flow is a fleshly wellspring. This can only produce in me the works of the flesh. This is what Paul said in Romans 7. But when holiness is the natural outflow of right relationship (not a salvation prayer, but real intimacy and relationship) then it will produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life and I will walk in victory over sin.

The law strengthened sin. Righteousness through His grace and empowerment put it to death.


 2018/9/18 11:27Profile

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