When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we begin what is to be a journey with Christ, a walk of faith of a lifetime. It begins with us dying with Christ to sin and with us being resurrected with Christ to new lives in him to be lived to him and to his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23).
By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, we put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and we put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Acts 26:16-18).
And, then we begin our journey with Christ. And, that involves daily dying to sin and self, and daily taking up our cross and following Jesus, and daily by the Spirit putting to death the misdeeds of our flesh (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 8:1-17).
And, it means walking (in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and walking in the Light as Christ is in the Light, and daily cleansing of sin. And, it involves daily putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us, too. For our salvation is a process of a lifetime (Eph. 6:10-20; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Heb. 9:28; Rom. 13:11).
The Apostle Paul explained the process in this way. He said he had not already obtained being like Jesus in his death, and he was not already perfect, but he pressed on to make it his own, because Christ Jesus had made him his own. So, what is of the past he put behind him, and he strained forward to what lay ahead, and he pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. It was a daily walk of faith – maturing, learning, and experiencing Christ (See Phil. 3:12-16).
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Phil. 1:9-11 ESV
We don’t “arrive” the moment we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. We don’t have all the right answers for everything or understand everything. We don’t have this Christian life all figured out. The moment we begin walking in the fear of the Lord we don’t know everything there is to know about the Bible, or the doctrines of the Christian faith and practice. So, we begin a learning journey, and we learn through experience.
We aren’t “saved,” BAM! and that’s it until one day we go to be with our Lord forever. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ comes back to take his own to be with him forever (Ro. 8:24; 1 Co. 1:18; 15:1-2; 2 Co. 2:15; 1 Pet. 1:5, 8-9).
So, as we grow in our walks of faith in the Lord, we also grow in his love and grace, and in the knowledge of him, and in spiritual discernment. In the process of our walks of faith with Christ, thus, we test, we examine, and we scrutinize what we see, experience, read and hear against the truth of God’s Word and against what we know and understand of his divine character and will for our lives, too.
If what we were believing turns out to be wrong, via testing and discernment, then we discard it, and we follow what we now know to be the truth. If via testing and discernment the Lord shows us anything we didn’t see before, we are to follow what he shows us, but we need to test it to make sure it is the Lord speaking to us, by comparing it to the teachings of scripture. And, then we need to follow the truth that we now know.
And, we should be continually maturing in our walks of faith, continually learning what we didn’t know before, continually growing in his love and grace and knowledge and discernment so that we don’t fall into error and so that we do follow after the ways of holiness and righteousness. But, this is a process of a lifetime as we walk with the Lord, and especially as we are presented with new things we didn’t see before. We need to keep testing and examining to make sure that what we are following is the truth.
But, so many people today fail to grow in their walks with the Lord, or to even examine their own hearts to see if truly they are in the faith. And they fail to test what they hear against the Word of God, for they are content with status quo and with whatever they have always believed or been taught. And, so they never truly come to know the Lord at all, or they stagnate for a time until something happens in their lives to get their attention.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom. 12:2 ESV
There is a cheap grace gospel which is permeating the church right now, at least in America. And, it teaches not only that you can be saved by a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but that you are guaranteed heaven as your eternal destiny based on that profession of faith alone.
And, not only that, but many who are teaching this cheap grace gospel are going so far as to tell prospective followers that they don’t have to repent of their sins or obey Jesus Christ or follow the Lord in submission to his will for their lives. They call that “works of the flesh.” And, this is blatant rebellion against our Lord, and against His Word, and against His holiness.
And, what that cheap grace gospel does is it gives free license to its adherents to continue in their sinful practices without guilt and without remorse. For, it makes no demands that believers in Jesus leave their sinful lifestyles behind them to walk in obedience to Jesus Christ, and it makes no demands for submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, either.
But, even some versions of the gospel, which do teach repentance and obedience to Christ, do not teach them as required for salvation and for eternal life with God. They teach them as part of our walks of faith, but they deny that to omit them is to not have eternal life with God. It is more recommended that we walk in holiness, but even if we don’t, they still assure all professers of faith in Christ eternal life with God in heaven.
So, what we need to realize here is that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness, not so we can continue on in our sinful lifestyles without guilt or punishment. He died to transform us in heart and mind away from sin to walks of obedience, and to conform us to his likeness.
So, we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world. We are no longer to live like we did before we believed in Jesus, but we are to walk in his holiness and righteousness, and we are to cooperate with his work of grace in our lives in transforming us and in conforming us to himself. And, when we do that, we discern and we prove and we approve what is the perfect, good and acceptable will of God, which is evidenced by our lifestyles.
In other words, the Christian life is a process of being conformed to the likeness of Christ and of being made holy and of discerning and proving what the will of God is. For daily we die to sin and self, and daily we put on Christ and his righteousness. And, as the Lord speaks to our hearts about anything, and/or as he brings new situations into our lives, we need to be discerning of his will, and we need to test everything to make certain we remain in conformity to his will and purpose for our lives.
But, the fact that the Christian life is a process, and that we are growing, maturing, and discerning, etc. continuously, is NEVER to be used as an excuse for remaining in sinful addiction, claiming you just haven’t gotten to that place of maturity yet. Honestly, that is hogwash! The Bible says that we have all been given knowledge of God and of his divine purpose for our lives, and it isn’t that humans don’t know right from wrong, but that they choose to reject what is right and to do wrong, so they are without excuse (Rom. 1:18-32).
So, walk with the Lord in obedience to his Word, do what he says, and do what you know is right, and don’t do what you know is wrong. Walk in the fear of the Lord and you won’t fulfill the desires of your flesh.
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!