The longer I have been a Christian the more I realize that the Christian life is a balancing act. We are held responsible for our actions by a holy God and therefore ought to be careful to live a life that is consistent with pleasing Him. His standards are high, yet his love is deep. Though our greatest efforts fall short, His love bridges the gap. This truth is the balance that permeates the thoughts and life of the faithful.
Let me give you several examples.
Called to faith, yet faith is a Gift
Responsible for our action, yet we are Forgiven in the Gospel
Slaves to Christ, yet we are Freed in Him
Without works Faith is Dead, yet we are saved by Faith Alone
In other academic disciplines these kind of statements would be problematic, but in Christianity they are foundational; becoming the very rhythm for how a Christian ought to think and live.
The most significant balance for the Christian life is of Delight and Denial. Scripture is clear that the Christian life is filled with joy and delight, yet it is found only when we deny ourselves for the sake of Christ.
Saying NO to Yourself
The average human experience tells us that self control is hard, yet beneficial. When we control our eating and exercise, our body is healthier; if we control our speech, our relationships are healthier; if we control our sleeping patterns; we feel much better.
Spiritually speaking, controlling our sinful desires, honors God and impacts our walk with him. Our self-denial is a form of worship and an expression of the Gospel's transformation in our hearts and mind; making much of our Savior. In this way it becomes a test of our faith and trust in the good will of our God.
The importance of self control to the Godly life is not limited to a display of the work done within us, but it also affect the relationship that we currently has with God. It is as if we are constantly fighting to remove that which is increasingly distracting us from the center of our faith and the focus of our hope.
This all means we must do the hard thing and say "NO" to ourselves; often! Trace your own desires and ask yourself where they lead. If they lead to Christ, then by all means follow them, but when we are honest, we see that our deceitful hearts have set targets for our hearts that lead to sin.
Seeking Joy, Denying Self
Though we long to chase our bliss, the truth is that our hearts are desperately wicked, and our affections have been tainted. If we follow our heart, as the world tells us too, we know it will lead us astray. Denying ourselves is the only answer to finding true and lasting joy.
Seeking joy means saying No to yourself and YES to joy in Christ.