Category Archives: 2) Living in Christ

Live in the Word of God

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

What is the word of God? It is his divine wisdom, his will, and a manifestation of his power.  In his words are the commands and guidance to live an obedient life. A life that demonstrates love for our heavenly Father and is a witness to others of his perfect will. The word is the message of Jesus Christ. It is the path to salvation and presents the mysteries that God has chosen to reveal. It was by his word that everything was created. It is by his word that everything holds together. It is by his word that everything will be destroyed. The gospel of John tells us that Jesus is the incarnate word of God, so to live in Christ is to live in the word.  

To live in the word of God means to pursue his will by spending meaningful, quality time in the scriptures; paying attention to ministers who are accurately preaching the tenets and precepts of the bible; and diligence in putting all that guidance into the works of your life. Faith can be defined as the belief in the word of God. So have faith, but also know that your faith is worthless without doing – be a doer, not just a hearer. Read James 2:14-26 We are blessed by what we do, not by what we know. This is the difference between wisdom and knowledge.

A mark of the genuine Christian is a thirst and need for knowledge and understanding of the word of God. Peter tells us to shed the filthy rags of the worldly life, and like babies to long for the pure milk of the word so that we may grow in the faith. Read I Peter 2:1-3 A mark of the lost and of the faux Christian is apathy toward the word of God.

Foregive Others

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiving those who have wronged us is not a suggestion, but a requirement from God. He demands we forgive. . . just as he forgives us. Forgiving others is what Christians do, it is a virtue of the highest order. Read Proverbs 19:11 It follows the example of Christ and frees our conscience from guilt and bitterness.

To forgive someone is to relinquish the desire to avenge yourself (the desire to hurt someone for hurting you). It is not ignoring or forgetting that you have been wronged. This is not giving up a desire to see justice served but instead leaving punishment in the hands of God. Forgiving is really to our own benefit as we no longer carry anger, bitterness, resentment, or the burning desire for revenge. God tells us that he will take care of the punishment due to them, but that we are to love our enemies!

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21

Paul tells us in the verses above that, if possible, we should be at peace with all men. The offer of forgiveness is up to you; acceptance of forgiveness and reconciliation is up to the other party. So do your part and rest in the peace of God.

Also, do not find joy in the misery of others. When those who have wronged us fall, or receive the punishment they deserve, we should not find happiness in that. We should have compassion for them, as difficult as that may be. Read Proverbs 24:17

Trust in the Lord, Not in Yourself

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

This proverb is an excellent maxim for reaping the best possible outcome in this life. It is quite simple, but contrary to human nature. Trust in the Lord is complete dependence on God and total submission to his will; along with the confidence that he will put and keep you on the right course. Our instinct is to take control, and rely on our own intelligence, experience, intuition, and emotion. Often, we will do well because we are smart, but we do well in the context of our desires, not in achieving the objective of obedience to the will of God. One seems good now, the other is good forever.

How do you know that you are “trusting in the Lord” in the decisions you make and not relying on your own understating? You trust in the Lord by loving God, living in the word, and praying for his guidance and wisdom. James tells us that God gives wisdom to all who ask but you must be steadfast in the faith. Read James 1:5-6 To effectively trust in the Lord is to live as a disciple, a soul committed to pursuing God’s will. It is a way of life.   

He will direct you by your conscience, he will give you the desire to move forward, he will set every circumstance and he will show you the correct path in ways you cannot imagine. The road may not be easy, he may take you in a direction that seems futile, he may test you with trials but know that if you follow him, you will be blessed and you will be successful. Then you work hard to accomplish every endeavor undertaken. You give it your best because you are working to the glory of God. Trust in the Lord because he loves you and he has a plan for you.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29

Pray Without Ceasing

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Paul tells us to persistently pray to God. It is a kind of running conversation that flows from a settled dependence and should continue all your waking hours. There is no repetition, no formula, but instead thankfulness, confession, intercession, pleading, and petitions to God. The Bible is clear that God responds to persistence and often chooses to accomplish His will in answer to our prayers. James tells us that the prayers of the righteous can accomplish much. Read James 5:16

One of the primary reasons to pray is to ask God for the wisdom to know his will. He freely gives that to those who love him and experiencing the blessings of successfully living within his will builds your trust and faith. I love Paul’s prayer for Christian maturity in Colossians:

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:9-12

Another important reason for persistent prayer is to ask God to take care of you and your loved ones. It is very comforting to know that God will never forsake those who love him.

Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Deny Yourself and Take Up Your Cross Daily

And “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in the adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:14-18

This scripture presents a critical directive, two dire warnings, and a paradoxical promise. It speaks of the cost of discipleship and the exponentially greater cost of failure to “come after Christ.”

The CommandWhoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me – To follow Jesus, you must deny yourself – acknowledge that you are not capable of righteousness on your own and to resist worldly desires of immorality. And you also must take up your cross – willing to suffer, even martyrdom, for Jesus. It is also seen as crucifying your old corrupt self and instead pursuing the will of God as a reborn child of God. To follow Jesus is complete obedience to his will. To “deny yourself,” “take up your cross” and “follow me” is something that we must do daily. Our instinct is to serve ourselves and we will struggle with this all our days here on earth.

Warning #1 Whosoever will save his life shall lose it – this is the great warning – hold on tight to your life, pursue your desires and things of the world and you will perish.

Warning #2Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. – Reject Christ and he will reject you. To dismiss the one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our sin will not end well. Without Christ’s substitutionary atonement, fools will rely on their own righteousness when they face God’s judgment. The result will be condemnation. In retrospect, when the influence of the world and the lies of Satan have passed away, that choice to reject Jesus will surely be deemed insanity. 

A Promise Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. – Give your life to Christ, and you will be saved from the wrath of God that is coming. This is the dramatic paradox in God’s word. Those who love their life and live for their own desire will perish, those who surrender their life to God will enjoy eternal life.  

A Rhetorical QuestionFor what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? What a terrible, tragic choice it is to hear and reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, to instead live for yourself, even if you attain all that you want in this brief life, and then spend an eternity of agony in hell.  

Our Continual Struggle with Sin

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:21-25

When we are saved, we are justified in the eyes of God. Our sin is forgiven, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. We are transformed into a new life and the old, dead sinful man is left behind. We are in Christ and a new creation by the grace of God. The Christian’s inner person is holy and ready for heaven. We are ready to stand blameless before God and our Lord Jesus.

But, while here on Earth, that inner person is still in sinful flesh. We will struggle with the sin and wickedness of our humanity for all our days; until we meet Jesus. Our brief time here is a grand test and though sin no longer owns us, it is still present and working against our spirit providing the opportunity for faithful obedience or failure. When believers sin we do not lose our salvation, but diminish our relationship with God. I do think that those who habitually sin, enjoying forgiveness and then returning right back to sinful pleasure bring into question the validity of their salvation.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions (defilements) of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 2 Peter 2:20-22

If you struggle with sin, then know that the Holy Spirit is at work in you. Those without Christ seek the pleasure of sin and there is no struggle. Our sanctification by the Holy Spirit is a work in progress throughout our life, and it is through Jesus Christ that we will be finally delivered. Until then, we go on serving the will of God, as our flesh struggles against us. Thankfully, though we are “wretched men,” the mercy of God does not end and is fresh every morning. Read Lamentations 3:22-23 For us, there is no condemnation.

Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 1:8

Work as Unto the Lord

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Colossians 3:23 

We are to demonstrate an excellent work ethic! Whatever your lot in life, you are to work like you are working for God – because you are. Even if you have a bad boss, a rotten situation, or a time of tedious boredom, you should work hard to be the very best that you can be. God put you where you are for a reason, and you should strive to be an exemplary resource, even if at that moment hard work does not appear to be to your advantage. You should always look to improve your situation but be a responsible steward of the work before you.  We do this to have a mark of excellence so that the gospel can be seen and that our testimony is effective. How can a sloppy, lazy, irresponsible, apathetic, negative, gossipy, rebellious, or subversive presence in the workplace speak well of your faith? Do your best and you will reap benefits while giving glory to God.

Generously Give Back to God

Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10

A man says, “show me and I will believe” while God says, “believe and I will show you”. There is no better demonstration of this than in our tithes to God. We are told when we generously give out of love and gratitude, our gifts to God will be returned to us many times over.  There is a wise saying, “You cannot out give God!” and I can attest that is true. The purpose of giving is to glorify God in the thanksgivings of those who received your gift. If you require financial blessing before you give, then you will consistently be disappointed, and so will God. God does not need your money; a generous tithe is truly a test of faith.

Your gift to him is to your credit so trust, give, relax, and see what happens. Whatever you give, it should be meaningful to you or I doubt it will be meaningful to God. If your gift causes you to flinch just a bit, then I think you are doing well!

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6

Endure Trials

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (various trials); Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work (effect), that ye may be perfect and entire (complete), wanting (lacking) nothing. James 1:2-4

Trials are unexpected experiences, often involving emotional or physical discomfort, distress, or pain. A trial can be minor, like a frustrating encounter with a co-worker, or devastatingly serious, like the loss of everything dear to you. Read Job 1:13-22 Trials are the norm, a feature of life, that affects both the saved and the lost.

God puts us through trials to build our endurance and to test the strength of our faith. Testing brings maturity and develops us throughout our lives into stronger Christians – “perfect and complete, lacking nothing”. Trials can humble us, build dependency on God, and will illuminate what kind of person we are. The depth of conviction in the faith of an untested Christian is unknown, especially to themselves. Fairweather faith is of little value. Faith that has endured adversity is our most precious commodity.

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10

We are to face the trials of life with calm delight (joy), being stable in the face of challenges. We can do this because we have confidence in the presence of God. We know that because we love God, all things work to our ultimate good and that all things are in his hands. To successfully navigate trials in a manner pleasing to God will sanctify us to be more like Christ. How we handle trials can be a powerful testimony to the love, power, and peace of God. The Christian way is to present calm, confident competence, which comes from prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. The instinct of the world is to present emotion (anger, fear, panic, irritation, distrust, etc.) and to meet the challenge with expedient solutions that serve the self in pursuit of comfort, at the expense of others if necessary.

The Christian can meet each day with joy and gratitude because in Christ we have the assurance of the best possible outcome. Those who live without Christ are on their own. For them, trials may build character through suffering and hardship, but there is no benefit beyond the grave. For the lost, trials are just bad luck that takes away the joy of life. For the Christian, trials are opportunities to serve God and demonstrate to the world the peace of faith in Christ.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Fill Your Mind with Good Things

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Do not fill your head with the garbage of the world! Access to everything has never been easier than today. With a click of the mouse or turn on the TV and you can enjoy wholesome entertainment and good things that can build you up. Or you can enjoy the filth of pornography, murder, perversion, and an endless array of depravity. Know that there are things that you cannot unsee.

Today’s entertainment and media venues provide a perfect platform for overtly sinful content. It also consistently delivers subtle, corrupt narratives and philosophies that poison the mind and deteriorate society. This is especially damaging to the impressionable minds of the young. The normalization and glorification of debauchery and depravity along with the vitriolic rejection of God are often clear objectives.

Be discerning in what you watch, read, and what you listen to. This stuff impacts what you think more than you know, and it will affect your walk with God. Dwell on good things and seek out quality people that build you up in the faith.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:1-2