The good news is that when you went through the gate, you were changed. You died to your old life and were raised to a new kind of life, the life of discipleship in which we humbly submit our will to God’s will. As a result, our lives start to change, start to show the fruits of the Spirit.
But this new life of fruitful discipleship is not automatic. Just as we will stumble as we climb a mountain, so also we will stumble after we go through the gate. God is at work in you, giving you both the desire and the ability to make that desire a reality. But God will not force his values, his desires, upon you. He will not make you love, force you to be joyful, automatically make you at peace. Rather, you must take the next step down the path of obedience.
When you do take the next step, you start to see the fruits of the Spirit in your own life. But there are other times when you will not act like you were changed at the gate. Instead of responding in love, you will stumble and respond in anger, which might develop into bitterness. Instead of responding with peace, you will stumble and are consumed with anxiety and turmoil. Sometimes it is just a stubbed toe; other times it is a stumble that sends us headlong down the side of the mountain.
I don’t mean to be a downer. There is so much joy at the beginning of the journey, and I don’t want to water-down your excitement. But you need to know that challenges will come; they may already have started. So the question is, what will you do when those challenges come and you don’t take the next step of obedience? What will you do when you stumble and fall in your Christian walk?
In order to discuss this, I need to define a difficult term: “sin.“