Can We “Coast” in the Christian Life?

October 14, 2009 at 12:20 am (Uncategorized)

Originally posted at on october 6, 2009

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Have you ever felt like you were just coasting through life as a Christian?

What do we usually mean when we say we are “coasting?”

What does the Bible say about the Christian life?

The Bible often uses phrases like,
“Make every effort” or “strive” Heb. 12:14
Discipline yourself” 1 Tim. 4:7
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” Rom. 12:1
“If we have died with him . . . if we endure” 2 Tim. 2:12
“Whoever does not take his cross and follow me [Jesus] is not worthy of me” Matt. 10:38
None of this sounds like “coasting” language.

So, if we are not supposed to “coast”, why do we often go through periods of our Christian life when we feel like we are just coasting?
Possible reasons:

Perhaps you say you have no time –no time to serve, no time to pray or read the Word, no time to fellowship with other believers. Maybe you feel you have too much going on to work on your Christian growth right now.

May I suggest that if this is the case, we are sinfully busy and something must change. Here’s how a great church reformer dealt with business:

“Tomorrow I plan to work, work, from early until late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer”. –Martin Luther

Or yours could be the opposite problem: maybe the reason you feel you’re coasting is because there’s just not enough going on to drive you to your knees right now? This is often the case for “roller-coaster Christians” -their faith goes up and down with their circumstances.

Or, have you ever found yourself saying, “God’s just not working on me right now –why can’t he work in my life like he is in _______________’s life?”

How do we answer this problem of circumstances?

Is it true that circumstances of life can make it more difficult to focus on the essential Christian disciplines? Surely no one would deny this. But, does this have to be true?
Paul says in 2 Cor. 12:9-10, “But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I  am weak, then I am strong.”

We don’t know if the thorn in Paul’s flesh was his circumstances, but if our “weakness” is our circumstances, could we not say the same thing that Paul did?

What can we do about the circumstances of life?
There are always some aspects of our circumstances that are in our control? 1 Tim. 4:7 says to “train yourself for godliness” and Matt. 5:29-30 tells us that if we are causing ourselves to sin with something in our lives, we should get rid of that something at all costs!

OK, but what about that which is out of our control? In Acts 16:6-10, Paul and his missionary team tried opening three doors before the Lord directed them to a fourth door that He was ready to open to them. If our circumstances keep presenting us with closed doors, that does not mean to quit testing the locks.

Lack of purpose.
If we have no direction –no goals in our Christian life, we can easily get discouraged, worn out, or tired. Hear from one of my favorite authors, “Discipline without direction is drudgery.” –Don Whitney
Is it true that a lack of direction can make us feel like we are “coasting?” Paul says, “I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” -1 Cor. 9:26.

Make no mistake. Our purpose is Christlikeness -nothing less than eternal joy in His presence! And if we give up, we not only miss this, but we may be “disqualified.”


It could be that we are not progressing in our Christian life because we are leaving something undone.
What’s the answer to this?

If you’ve willfully sinned, maybe you’ve yet to deal with this sin and it has caused a layer of hardness around your heart. (unforgiveness, unrepentance, unwilling to make restitution, etc.)

Or perhaps, you’re guilty of acts of omission? You know, the times when you knew what you were to do and yet you didn’t do it. (Maybe a clear directive from the Bible, or maybe a subjective impression from the Holy Spirit)

The answer to both of these, or course is REPENT! You will never move forward in the Christian life if you continue pressing on while God keeps pressing you back. Make restitution, confession, or whatever you need to do.

How do we fight “coasting?
1. Remind ourselves of the truth about God’s working in our lives:

2. Remind ourselves of the Biblical word for a coasting life –a “drifting” life (Hebrews 2:1).

3. Repent of coasting through your Christian life. Confess it to God and turn from this kind of unChristian living.

4. Take up your cross daily. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

5. Remember, God is just as concerned with who He has you becoming as He is with what He has you doing.


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