If you are in Christ Jesus, by faith, how long have you known him? And, do you really know him? Do you know what he requires of you, you who have believed in him? And, are you living what you know, by his power?
So many say they know God, that they believe in Jesus Christ, and that they are in relationship with him, but by their lifestyles they deny him. They know the truth. They have been shown the way they are to go, so that they may walk in it, so they are not without knowledge, but by their life choices they are denying the truth they know, and they are choosing to believe the lie.
The Lord Jesus led me to read 1 Peter 1 (Select vv. NASB).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Vv. 3-5
When we are born again of the Spirit of God, our old lives of living for sin and self are put to death, and we are given new lives, in the Spirit, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness, empowered by the Spirit. For, this is the reason Jesus Christ died on that cross for our sins (See: 1 Pet. 2:24).
Now we walk (in lifestyle) by the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. This is not saying we won’t ever sin again, but it is saying that sin should no longer be our master. We should no longer be under its control, for Jesus Christ set us free from the power that Satan and sin had over us, via his death on a cross and his resurrection back to life (See: Rom. 6:1-23).
So, does this describe your life? And, if not, then why not? For, our salvation is not merely forgiveness of our sins and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. A saved life is a changed life, transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin and to walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. And, to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made into the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Many people are led to believe that all they must do is acknowledge who Jesus was and is, and that they must receive (accept) his grace. But, have they really accepted his grace? For, his grace is not carte blanche to continue their sinful lifestyles while claiming heaven as their eternal home.
You see, God’s grace to us, which brings us salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we await our Lord’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14).
So, if we have truly received God’s grace, and if we have truly trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, then sin should have been put to death in our lives, and we should be living in the power of the Spirit within us, by walking according to the Spirit, and in putting sin to death; by saying “No” to sin, and by saying “Yes” to God, and by choosing to walk in his ways and in his truth and not giving the devil a foothold in our lives.
True faith in Jesus Christ, thus, results in true change in our lives. True faith is of the Spirit of God, therefore it submits to God and to his purposes. Again, I am not speaking here about living in absolute perfection, but that genuine faith in Christ results in a life which is committed to obedience to Christ, to walking in his ways, and to putting sin to death on a daily basis.
So, if you are still living to please sin and self, if you are resisting the Spirit, and doing what you know is wrong, despite what you know is right, and this is the pattern of your life, then you must know here that the Bible says you don’t know God, you don’t love God, and that you do not have eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).
But, a true follower of Christ, although not perfect, will walk in the ways of the Lord, will confess sin, when convicted, and will obey the Lord’s teachings in his Word. This is not to say he will never stumble, or that he will never rebel against God, even for a period of time, for we do have examples of that in scripture, but that his lifestyle, overall, is one of servitude to God, putting sin to death, by the Spirit, and walking in the ways of the Lord.
But, let me add a word of caution here. “Not perfect” is never to be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. Daily we should be putting sin to death, by the Spirit. Daily we should be denying self and taking up our cross and following Christ. And, daily we should be putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. Vv. 6-9
As followers of Christ, when we do reject sin, and we choose to follow our Lord in obedience, we will be resisted and opposed by Satan and by those who are listening to Satan instead of to God. For, Satan wants to destroy us, either by getting us back into his ball court, or by taking us down through persecution. Jesus said that the world should hate us, because he has taken us out of the world. So, if the world, or if even the worldly church does not hate us, to some degree, then, perhaps, it is because we are still one with the world, and we truly have not come out of the world, to be separate.
Now, when we go through various trials and tribulations, they will test our faith, to see if it is genuine. I am reminded here of the parable of the four types of soil, which is often referred to as “The Parable of the Sower.”
In it, the sower sowed the seed, the Word of God. Some of it fell on deaf ears, because Satan snatched the truth from that person’s heart. Another person immediately received the Word with joy, but the truth never really took root in that person’s life, and so, when persecution arose, he immediately fell away. Still another did accept the Word, but he became deceived by the world, and so he became unfruitful for God’s eternal kingdom. And, lastly, there is the one who hears the Word, and who follows the Word, so that he bears much spiritual fruit for God’s kingdom work.
I believe this first person never did believe in Jesus, and that he never made a profession of faith in Christ. It appears to me that this second individual did make a profession of faith in Christ, but his faith was not really rooted in Christ, and so he fell away from the faith he professed when things got hard, which they will. The third individual, I believe, is a genuine believer in Christ, but one who has wandered from his pure devotion to Christ, and is presently not walking in the truth that he knows. And, lastly is the one who has believed in Jesus Christ, and who is walking in faithfulness to the Lord.
So, what we need to understand here is that a profession of faith in Christ does not insure that we are in Christ or that we have eternal life with God. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self) we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25).
So, we must take these words very seriously. We can’t claim who we are in Christ if we are not in Christ, by genuine faith in him. And, we should not claim who we are in Christ as an excuse or as a cover-up for willful sin against God. Knowing who we are in Christ is critically important, but the purpose of knowing is that we might live like we truly are in Christ, and so that we might walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Knowing who we are in Christ, in other words, should be for the purpose to lead us away from sin and to faithful surrender to our Lord Jesus Christ, because we love him, and because we are so grateful for what he did for us, to save us.
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.
Saturday, January 6, 2018, 4:55 a.m. – Lord Jesus, thank you for this teaching from your Word. May you bring these truths home to our hearts. Amen!