I was a baby Christian, just a few weeks old, when asked why I still listened to rock ‘n’ roll music. My response was quick and defensive. I’ve given my heart to Jesus, I go to church instead of bars, so it really doesn’t matter what music I listen to. End of conversation.
And it was true. My life was consumed with Jesus. I went to church three times a week. I read the Bible constantly. I was, without really understanding the concept, abiding in Jesus.
Sometime later I came home and noticed dust had gathered on my drum set. Dusting them off, I grabbed some music. It was Van Halen and one song read, “Runnin’ with the Devil.” Then it hit me.
“Wait a minute,” I thought. “I’m not running with the devil.”
I proceeded to haul my rock collection out to the garbage can. Not because I had to. Not because someone told me to. My experience is described in this chorus:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim;
In the light of His glory and grace.
I had no idea at the time that I had stumbled upon the science of salvation. The secret of success in the Christian experience is not in our learning. We may understand the Bible from cover to cover and still find no victory over sin.
It is not in our position. We may be looked up to as spiritual leaders and examples in our community and church and still fail.
It is not in our numbers. We may have the support of hundreds or even thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ without success in the innermost life.
We may understand the Bible from cover to cover and still find no victory over sin.
It is not in our entrusted talents. We may be more talented than everyone around us and yet fall short in our Christian experience.
It is not in the will of man. Our wills may be strong, very strong and yet they will never be strong enough to carry us through every temptation. While all of these have a place, none of them can replace continual dependence on Christ.
The secret of success is simply this. Feeling our inefficiency we are to contemplate Christ, and through Him who is the strength of all strength, the thought of all thought, the willing and obedient will gain victory after victory. Amen.
James has spent more than 30 years preaching the gospel around the world in revival seminars and evangelistic meetings. He and his wife Risë have two adult children, Jeiel and Kierra.