Believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives means us humbling ourselves before him and us dying with him to sin and to self, and us living to him and to his righteousness, not just once, but continually until the day he takes us home to be with him.
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’” Luke 9:23-26 ESV
This is in Jesus’ own words. If we are to come after Jesus, we must deny self, die daily to sin, self, and the flesh, and we must follow him in obedience to his commands (under the New Covenant). For, 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 for His sake, i.e., die with him to sin, we will gain eternal life.
“They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:19-24 ESV
Paul taught the same thing as Jesus, that the truth that is in Jesus is that we must put off our old self (the flesh), that we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” Romans 6:6-7 ESV
If our faith in Jesus Christ is genuine God-ordained and God-persuaded faith, it means our old self was crucified (put to death) with Jesus in order that sin might be done away with in our lives, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, that sin would no longer have dominion over our lives.
“I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” Romans 6:19 ESV
And it isn’t just that we are no longer living our lives under the control of sin, but now we are to present ourselves to God as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification, and its end, eternal life (v. 22).
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8 ESV
We can’t live according to the flesh and according to the Spirit at the same time. That is like trying to go right and left at the same time. They are opposite of each other. If our thinking is set on the flesh, and that is what we live to, as a matter of practice, and we don’t have our minds set on the Spirit and walking (in conduct) accordingly, its end is not eternal life.
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:12-14 ESV
Believing in Jesus Christ is present tense, not past tense. And believing in Jesus Christ involves this daily surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ, walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. And our salvation from sin and eternal life with God are contingent on us living according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.
Do you see that in these passages of Scripture so far? We must be daily (actively, continually) living according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. It doesn’t mean we are perfect, but that sin should no longer be our master. Jesus Christ is to be our Master, the one ruling our lives.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14 ESV
You see, God’s grace to us is not just forgiving our sins so we can escape hell and so we can go to heaven when we die. God’s grace delivers us out of our slavery to sin so that we can become slaves of righteousness. And his grace trains us to say “No!” to sin daily and “Yes!” to God, and to his righteousness and holiness being lived in and out through our lives.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 ESV (cf. Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10).
So, you see, Jesus died to deliver us out of our slavery to sin so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, and that we might honor God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15).
If we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, we have eternal life with God, but if we live according to the flesh, to please our flesh, doing what we want to do, watching or listening to whatever we choose, and our lives are not surrendered to Jesus Christ, to doing his will, then we will die in our sins, no matter what faith we profess.
So, just know here that believing in Jesus Christ is not some words that we repeat after someone else, or some prayer that we pray, or some confession we make of Jesus as Lord. We are not saved by our words. We are saved by God’s grace, through faith, but that faith, because it comes from God, it submits to Christ as Lord, it repents of sin, and the believer in Jesus walks (in conduct) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.
The Way That He Loves
By W. Elmo Mercer
Scripture: I John 3:1;I John 3:16
The way that He loves is as deep as the sea,
His spirit shall be my stay.
The way that He loves is as pure as a rose,
Much sweeter He grows each day.
His peace hovers near like a dove.
I know there’s a heaven above.
To Jesus I cling, life’s a wonderful thing
Because of the way He loves.
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