NTD – How to go on living as a “Christian”?
© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 10 October 2022
NTD1 What comes next?
Becoming a committed Christian is the beginning of a whole new life journey. Jesus radically called it a “new birth”! John 3:1-9. Yet we are still living in the same world around us as before. But instead of continuing to align our lives with it, we are to learn God’s ways of thinking and living Romans 12:2 as an ongoing process Colossians 2:6,7. This starts to change how we handle ourselves and other people, as well as life issues in general and their outcomes Psalm 1:1-2,3.
God’s wonderful purpose is for all Christians to share with Him in expressing His own glorious nature! 2Peter 1:4. He has given us all we need for doing this 2Peter 1:3. We are to show what He is really like by what we are and the way we live 2Peter 1:5,6-7,8. It all basically comes down to two things: ourselves growing closer to God, then loving and influencing others to seek, find and follow Him also Matthew 22:35-40.
Does this sound too hard? For an unbeliever, it is! Romans 7:15,18-19,24. But God has made His way to overcome this Romans 8:1-2. As Jesus Christ said, we are totally dependent on Him John 15:5.
NTD2 Nurturing our own faith, to keep growing closer to God
If we keep God as our first priority, He will provide all we need to serve Him well Matthew 6:31-32,33, Romans 12:1. So maintaining our heart-attitude towards God is vital Proverbs 4:23. What do we have our hearts set on? Who or what do we really love? How does this tend to shift with our life situations and influences?
How all this actually happens is different for each of us, as were our experiences of becoming a Christian. It is how God is working out His unique purposes for each Christian’s life Philippians 2:13.
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 our reading of the Bible and “hearing” what it says Psalm 119:104-105 (see every verse of Psalm 119:1-176 !!). This Bible reading really needs to be daily Proverbs 8:33-35 and preferably in the mornings, to start our days well Psalm 5:3, 119:147-148, Isaiah 50:4,5. 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, how this applies to them now – and doing it 2Timothy 2:15, 3:14,15,16-17.
The Bible has related to all the people who have lived throughout history, in their different locations and cultures and the issues they faced Romans 15:4. The diversity within the whole Bible addresses this. As well as laying out God’s requirements, it has many life stories of people who obeyed Him in difficult life situations Hebrews 11:32-33,34 especially Jesus Christ Himself! Hebrews 12:1,2. These accounts often include details of their thoughts and prayers Genesis 6:5, Psalm 94:19, 139:23, Luke 24:38, Romans 2:15, Hebrews 4:12 as well as descriptions of 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, as well as “starving” and killing off any old bad ways and influences Ephesians 4:21-23. Doing all these is sometimes a real struggle! The Holy Spirit within will empower us to change – IF we keep choosing to submit to 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 Psalm 5:1-3, Luke 18:1. As we respond to God wholeheartedly like this, He will be changing us John 15:7-8. We will be showing His own glorious nature, 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 always aiming to turn our hearts more towards Him Hebrews 12:5-6.
NTD3 We can’t do this all on our own
God is love – a perfectly united “trio of persons” – “3-in-1”. So likewise we are meant to unite in fellowship relationships with other Christians, all committed to Jesus Christ and to each other Galatians 3:28, Hebrews 10:23-25. This avoids “going it alone” as a Christian. That is not God’s way, making Christian living much harder and vulnerable to failures.
We then learn to live this new life together, as a “church” Ephesians 2:22, 3:6, 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 mutually caring Christian people Romans 15:5-6. Early on, new Christians should be baptised in water, usually by their church Galatians 3:26-27. This is the biblical way to declare to everyone that they have become committed Christians Romans 6:3-4.
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 friends of Jesus Christ! John 15:14-15.
NTD4 Influencing others to seek, find and follow Jesus Christ
We also learn how to treat non-Christians with respect and compassion, praying for their wellbeing and forgiving them 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.
This is not an optional extra. Jesus Christ directly commanded all His followers to use His given Spiritual authority to go and lead others also to become His followers (“disciples”) Matthew 28:18-19. It was not only to make “converts” to faith in Him, but also to teach and show them by example how to grow into stable, strong disciples who obey Him Matthew 28:20a. He Himself will be with us as we do this! Matthew 28:20b.
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 Luke 4:18, 12:32,33,34, 14:12,13-14, 18:18-30 and also address wider social issues such as exploitation, oppression, injustice and other evils Isaiah 1:17.
NTD5 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.
That means we are all involved in a spiritual battle! Ephesians 6:12. God’s enemy Satan (the Devil) keeps trying to draw us away from God Genesis 4:7, 1Peter 5:8. He targets our motives, thoughts and emotions, through our circumstances, what we see and hear, and the influences of other people.
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.
NTD6 How are we supposed to cope?
How on earth can we fight against the Devil? 1Peter 5:9. We can only do it by the power of God Ephesians 6:11.
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.
NTD6 God has always been “on your case”
There is another inspiring fact in this struggle Philippians 1:6. God clearly intends you to succeed! He also often said 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. This fact is a deep mystery – we all struggle with trying to understand it! Romans 9:10-24.
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 to love Him and live for Him? Do you think that God could actually have been behind these too?
NTD7 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! Colossians 1:22. From His point of view, He only sees our substitute – Jesus Christ! 1Corinthians 1:2