If you like, you can think of
this as a follow up to our study titled OK, I'm Saved.
Now What? Having shown that once we became a
believer all the sins of our life were forgiven at the
cross, and the Lord not longer counts our sins against
us, we now turn to the logical follow up question.
How should a believer respond to such an incredible
Paul devoted much time to
describing the appropriate response to the free gift of
eternal life and it's summed up in his admonition
“Only let us
live up to what we've already attained” (Phil
3:16). By the wording he used we know
this is not something we do to achieve or maintain our
salvation. He said we've already attained that. We do
this as an expression of our heart felt gratitude for
having been given the gift of eternal life.
Make no mistake here, as unbelievers we were
surely destined for the fires of hell.
laid this out in no uncertain terms.
As for you,
you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which
you used to live when you followed the ways of this
world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the
spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying
the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and
thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of
wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is
rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we
were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been
And just in
case we missed it there, he repeated it in his letter to
At one time
we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved
by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in
malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior
appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things
we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us
through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy
Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through
Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified
by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of
eternal life.(Titus 3:3-7)
Paul took pains to describe the
way God saw us before we were saved. But now, because of
the cross, He sees us as a new creation (2
Cor. 5:17), having attained the
righteousness of God (2
Cor. 5:21) by faith in His completed
And once again, please notice the past tense of
Paul's statements above.
Knowing that all this has
already been done for us and can never be taken away no
matter what, let's see what our appropriate response
The Practice Of Christian Living
urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer
your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to
God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not
conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans
Someone once said, “Life is what
you make it. It's not what happens but how you take it.”
Everything about the practice of Christian living is
within our control. We don't have to behave like
everyone else. We can be transformed and it begins with
choosing to behave differently.
Each of you
must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his
neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your
anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you
are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must
work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he
may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let
any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only
what is helpful for building others up according to
their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And
do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were
sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all
bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along
with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to
one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God
forgave you (Ephes
I believe Paul was in effect,
the first behavioral psychologist. He taught that while
we can't always control the circumstances of our life we
can control our response to them. We have such a
glorious future awaiting us that we don't have to worry
about gaining the approval of others by acting the way
they do. Our primary goal is pleasing the Lord.
judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and
you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be
forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good
measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over,
will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you
use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke
Choosing to become more
tolerant, forgiving and generous will have such a
remarkable effect on our life that others will want to
know what has happened to transform us. Instead of
stuttering and stammering through an embarrassing
attempt to “witness” to friends and neighbors we'll find
that our very life has become a witness to what God can
do, and people will be drawn to us.
This is because the practice of
Christian living is not all don't do this or don't do
that, at least not in the negative sense. Remember Jesus
said that He came so we might have life and have it more
To that end the Bible says we
shouldn't worry about how we're going to get by, letting
the Lord take care of that for us (Matt.
6:25-34). We shouldn't let what Paul
called the light and momentary troubles of this world
get us down. We should no longer fix our eyes on the
temporary things we can see, but focus on the eternal
things we can't see instead (2
Cor. 4:17-18). This is even more true
for us than it was for the people of Corinth 2000 years
ago because very soon we're going to step out of this
world and into the next one where the eternal things
we've only been able to dream about will suddenly become
our new reality.
In the mean time, do you hate
your job because of a boss who's hard to please?
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as
working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that
you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a
reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Are your neighbors or associates
hard to put up with?
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what
is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as
far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
We who've been given everything
don't have to worry about anything.
The Privilege Of Christian Living
the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your
gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not
be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer
and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests
to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in
Christ Jesus (Phil
Because we've become children of
the Creator of the Universe we can rejoice in everything
that happens to us because we know that God is working
all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans
8:28). We can always be at peace, even
when our world seems to be crumbling around us. We fear
nothing, we pray about everything, and we're thankful
“I have told
you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In
this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have
overcome the world.” (John
This world is a dark and evil
place, and though we are children of God the whole world
is under the control of the evil one (1
John 5:19). Nowhere does the Bible
promise us a trouble free life. What it does promise is
a life of peace regardless of the circumstances. The
Lord is our over comer and because of that we are
privileged to be at peace. No matter what.
I've heard the Christian life
compared to a roller coaster ride. Once we buckle into
our seat we yield
control of our circumstances to someone else. But
because of our faith in the operator's ability to bring
us safely through the experience, we actually enjoy the
scary unknowns we encounter along the way.
So it is with our life in the
Lord. He didn't promise that there would be no trouble,
On the contrary He said there would be trouble.
But when we encounter it we can be at peace,
knowing He has promised to see us safely through it.
yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Let
your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with
salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Think about it. We can engage
the Creator in conversation any time it suits us. He's
always in, we never need an appointment, and he's never
too busy for us. Whether it's asking for a parking place
on a crowded street or guidance on whether to pursue a
career opportunity, He's always available to listen and
this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to
give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves
a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace
abound to you, so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need, you will abound in every good
work. As it is written:
scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his
righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who
supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also
supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge
the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich
in every way so that you can be generous on every
occasion, and through us your generosity will result in
thanksgiving to God. (2
God has given us the privilege
of helping Him distribute His endless resources to those
in need. He so loves a cheerful giver that every time He
finds one He makes them rich in every way so they will
always have more than enough for themselves with
sufficient excess so they can be generous to others on
every occasion. Next to the gift of eternal life there's
no more remarkable promise anywhere in Scripture.
The Power Of Christian Living
devil and he'll flee from you. (James
Although Paul called him the God
of this age (2
Cor. 4:4), Christians needn't fear the
devil because of the power we've been given.
For though we
live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the
world. On the contrary, they have divine power to
demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every
pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of
God, and we take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ (2
Jesus showed us how to do this
in the wilderness temptations (Matt.
4:1-11). Using nothing but Scripture He
demolished every one of the devil's arguments and sent
him packing. This same power is available to us. We just
have to know the Bible well enough to activate it.
Is any one of
you sick? He should call the elders of the church to
pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the
Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick
person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has
sinned, he will be forgiven (James
As is the case with everything
James wrote, this is a clear promise without exception
or equivocation. The Bible doesn't promise we won't get
sick, but it does promise we can be healed. It's a power
the Lord died to give us.
“I tell you
the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw
yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen, it will be
done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for
in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it
will be yours. (Mark
And it's not just healing. With
sufficient faith we could literally move mountains. But
faith is like our physical muscles. The more we exercise
it the stronger it becomes. This is a case where the
American lifestyle has become our enemy. It's been too
easy to get the things we want without the Lord's help.
It's been hard to remember that opportunity does not
equal mandate. But just because the banks will loan us
more than we can repay doesn't mean that we should go
into debt to buy things we don't need and can't afford.
Maybe the Lord is stripping those things away now to
help us practice living by faith.
Now to each
one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the
common good. To one there is given through the Spirit
the message of wisdom, to another the message of
knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith
by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that
one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another
prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to
another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to
still another the interpretation of tongues. All these
are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives
them to each one, just as he determines (1
Charismatics often misuse their
gifts in immature excesses of self glorification while
fundamentalists avoid theirs like the plague refusing to
acknowledge they even exist. But if the gifts of the
Holy Spirit were ever used in the manner Paul described,
the world would not be able to stand against their
Each of us has been gifted and
could use the power our gifts contain to have
significant effect on the little corner of the world we
tells us how to discover and use our gifts.
The Protection Of Christian Living
Now it is God
who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He
anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put
his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what
is to come (2
So we come full circle. Never
let it be said that although God has the power to save
us, He lacks the power to keep us.
listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I
give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no
one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has
given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch
them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one”
A US insurance company says
we're in good hands with them, but believers enjoy the
ultimate example of being in good hands. Our policy is
paid in full and our coverage can never expire. Not even
we ourselves can snatch us out of their hands.
strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the
full armor of God so that you can take your stand
against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against
the authorities, against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly
A soldier's armor can only
protect him when he wears it, and he would never think
of going into battle without being fully protected.
We're aliens behind enemy lines and as such are
combatants in an ongoing battle. We've been given
impenetrable armor, but in order for it to protect us we
have to put it on and keep it on.
The Point Of Christian Living
All this leads to achieving the
goal we all want most in life. Earlier I said that after
becoming saved, our primary goal becomes pleasing the
Lord. But when we delight ourselves in the Lord He
will give us the desire of our heart (Psalm
37:4). By combining the practice,
the privilege, the power, and the protection of the
Christian life we can finally achieve complete personal
freedom. Although we are still in the world we will no
longer be of the world. Following the instructions for
Christian living frees us of all the negative emotions
that have afflicted us in the past. No more worry, no
more stress, no more feeling out of control. We no
longer have to be concerned with having enough money, or
getting ahead, or keeping up.
The uncertainties of life that
so preoccupy the thoughts of others won't bother us any
more. It doesn't matter who gets elected to what office,
or how bad the economy is getting, or whether the
government will continue to break its promises. We'll
finally understand the full meaning of the Lord's words,
Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”
8:36) Praise the Lord. Selah. 04-13-13