NT3 – How to live as a “Christian”?
© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 29 June 2020
What comes next?
This “new birth” is the beginning of a whole new life journey. Yet we are still living in the same world around us as before. The basic change is in our own responses to it all Psalm 1:1. We are learning new attitudes and ways of thinking Psalm 1:2. We start changing how we handle ourselves, other people and life issues in general Romans 12:2.
God’s wonderful purpose is for all Christians to share with Him in expressing His own glorious nature! 2Peter 1:4. Christians are to show what He is really like by what we are and the way we live 2Peter 1:5,6-7,8.
Does this sound too hard? It is! The only way to be able to live in God’s ways is to be totally dependent on Him John 15:5. If we keep God as our first priority, He will provide all we need to serve Him well Matthew 6:31-32,33, Psalm 1:3.
But how all this actually happens is different for each of us, as were our experiences of becoming a Christian. It is the working out of God’s unique purposes for each Christian’s life Philippians 2:13.
How do we go on living as Christians?
Jesus Christ explained that His followers would continue to be taught and guided by the Holy Spirit John 14:26, 16:13.
The main way the Holy Spirit guides us is through reading the Bible and “hearing” what it says Psalm 119:104-105 (see every verse of Psalm 119:1-176 !!). This Bible reading is preferably daily Proverbs 8:33-35, Psalm 119:147-148. Memorising key Bible verses is also vital, as they can be recalled anytime when needed in challenging situations Psalm 119:10-11. This certainly worked for Jesus! Matthew 4:1-11.
Other Bible-based Christian media can help too. All Christians need to be increasing their understanding of Jesus Christ and how this applies to them now 2Timothy 2:15, 3:14-17.
This is a major reason why the Bible is so large. It applies to all the people who have lived throughout history, in their locations and cultures and the issues they faced. The diversity within the whole Bible addresses this Romans 15:4. As well as laying out God’s requirements, it has many life stories of people who obeyed Him in their difficult life situations Hebrews 11:32, especially Jesus Christ Himself! Hebrews 12:1,2. These often include descriptions of their thoughts and prayers, as well as their words and actions.
The key thing is to DO what the Bible says, not merely know about it James 1:22. This means keeping on “feeding” and stirring up God’s new ways of thinking – and doing them (as well as “starving” and killing off any old bad ways and influences Ephesians 4:21-23). The Holy Spirit within will empower us to change – IF we keep choosing to obey Him Romans 8:12-13.
This also leads into praying often to God, honouring Him and asking for His help to live in His ways Luke18:1. As we respond to God wholeheartedly like this, He will be changing us John 15:7-8. By showing His own glorious nature, we will be sharing with God in fulfilling His primary purpose! 2Thessalonians 2:14.
Obviously this doesn’t “just happen”, but involves self-disciplines, as “disciples” of Jesus Christ. It is learning the new ways of living under His leadership – a lifetime project! Discipline is not popular, but with God it is always positive, if accepted Hebrews 12:11. God is aiming to turn our hearts more towards Him Hebrews 12:5-6.
We can’t do this all on our own
God is perfectly united, as “3-in-1”. So likewise we are meant to join in fellowship relationships with other Christians, all committed to Jesus Christ and to each other Galatians 3:28.
We then learn to live this new life together, as a “church” Ephesians 4:3-4,5-6. It’s vital to join in with a church that is aiming to be Bible-based and is a community of caring relationships Romans 15:5-6. Early on, new Christians should be baptised in water, usually by their church. This is the biblical way to declare to everyone that they have become committed Christians Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:26-27.
These are basics for continuing and growing in our new life “in Christ”. We will actually be getting to know God – developing a relationship with Him! Ephesians 3:16-17,18,19,20-21. This can be the ultimate joy and reality for any person to experience! Christians typically start speaking about God more personally as “my Lord”, “dear Jesus” and so on, as a friend John 15:14-15.
We also learn how to treat non-Christians with respect and compassion, praying for their wellbeing even if they are hostile. This may open the way to share with them about God’s great gift, our experiences of receiving it and living for Him 1Peter 3:15,16.
Why is it often hard to live as a Christian?
Obviously this Christian life can result in many conflicts, including struggles to maintain a full commitment. Why?
The Bible reveals that God is surrounded in Heaven by angels – other powerful spiritual beings. Yet even they also love Him only on a voluntary basis. And many of them chose not to love and submit to Him! Revelation 12:7-8,9.
This has much to do with why we live in a troubled, un-loving world. Life is often difficult to understand and can be personally devastating.
God’s enemy Satan (the Devil) will keep trying to draw us away from God 1Peter 5:8,9. He targets our motives, thoughts and emotions, through our circumstances, what we see and hear, and the influences of other people.
How are we supposed to cope?
So it’s not easy to keep on living for God. Even basic things can challenge this priority. These include our concerns for personal security, comfort, people’s friendship and approval, or just being busy with other things. There will be many difficulties, discouragements, fears, mistakes and sins. Yet God has promised that, as Christians, all of these can be overcome 1Corinthians 10:13, Revelation 12:10,11,12.
We just need to admit any failures to God and ask Him to forgive us and help us not to sin again. We can trust Him that he always will 1John 1:9.
Then re-commit ourselves to fully following, obeying and serving Him. This is for our whole life. That will probably be a long time and the Bible is a big book! So we must stick at it, persevere, one day at a time. As we do, we grow stronger James 1:2-3,4-5, Galatians 6:9.
God has always been “on your case”
There is another inspiring fact in this struggle Philippians 1:3-5,6. So God clearly intends you to succeed. In fact, He also often says that He chose all those who become Christians, even before they believed 1Peter 1:2, Romans 8:28, 29,30, Ephesians 1:4-5, 2Thessalonians 2:13,14.
Looking back now, you may be able to see that your becoming a Christian was actually not only up to you – to make a totally freewill choice. God was drawing you to Himself John 6:44. After all, He loved you already and was working on winning your love!
So, were there many significant people and incidents along the way that influenced your decision? Do you think that God could actually have been behind these too?
What specific activities may God intend a Christian to be involved in?
God has gifted Christians in various ways to be able to really benefit others Romans 12:6-7,8, 1Corinthians 12:4-11.
As we grow in Christian maturity, our concern for others and influence for good shall increase. God even wants to change whole communities through Christians. He intends them to be good examples personally, to care for the needy and also address wider social issues such as exploitation, oppression, injustice and other evils Isaiah 1:17.
Again, remember the overwhelmingly good news
Christians are already OK with God!
He has accepted us because we have accepted the profound gift He offered us. This gift is forever! There is nothing further to be “earned” Ephesians 2:8-9.
Amazingly, despite ongoing imperfections, God now regards us as perfect! From His point of view, He only sees our substitute – Jesus Christ!