Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” — Galatians 5:7
His analogy to the church at Corinth about living for God is striving for a crown. He compared it to running a race to win it (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). He uses the words, “run,” “strive,” “fight,” and the statement, “keep my body under control.” He warns that not to control your body, its fleshly desires that are an enemy to God and godliness, is to become a “castaway.” Castaway is from the Greek word, “adokimos,” which is the same word translated as reprobate in Romans 1:28.
If I could identify one thing about Christians today that prevents them from being other than name-only Christians, it is that there is very little striving to be godly, spiritually mature, and productive. Furthermore, if we are not like guppies for God’s truth, we will be gullible for everything else.
However, the Calvinist and Reformed Theology individual says, “I don’t have to strive because I was chosen for God’s kingdom before time began.”
The Unconditional Eternal Security (once saved, always saved) says, “I don’t strive because it’s works-based salvation. I can do as I please, even sin daily because I cannot lose my salvation.”
The Universalist declares, “We don’t have to strive. Everyone is going to heaven—hell does not exist.
The New Apostolic Reformation individual says, “But I’m striving to help conquer the world and give Jesus His kingdom when He comes.”
The Charismatic (whatever that means nowadays) declares, “I’m God’s favorite—I don’t strive, I reap the blessings of comfort, health, and wealth, daily.”
The Seeker-friendly and Emergent ones reply, “What kingdom? What do you mean by ‘crown.’ Who is Paul? Is he on GodTV?”
The liturgical one replies, “Teach me the ritual. l will light a candle and perform the striving ritual daily. “
The Roman Catholic responds, “You must strive, but I’m already in the kingdom because I belong to the true Church.”
The New Age Christian says, “I don’t care what you say. I have my own path to God.”
The legalists replies, “You need a haircut, you’re wearing a short-sleeve shirt and shorts, and trying to lecture me about striving. You’ll burn with prostitutes in eternal hell!!!”
God’s word says:
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded (focused on the desires of the flesh) is death; but to be spiritually minded (focused on the Holy Spirit) is life and peace. Because the carnal mind (focused on the things of the flesh) is enmity (an enemy) against God: for it is not subject to (rebellious against) the law of God, neither indeed can be (cannot submit to God). So then they that are in the flesh (focused on the desires of the flesh) cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (is not a child of God). And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” — Romans 8:5-10 (parentheses mine)
The message is not to focus on eternal life by the leading of the Holy Spirit. That is a battle—the great fight of faith. It is not about religion, but a relationship with God. If we love Him, we will love and follow/obey the Holy Spirit no matter what it costs or requires.