LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE GOD'S WAY
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Cor. 5:17
Many Christians today live under the bondage and frustration of trying to live the Christian life in a way that is not God's way. They believe that they can please God, receive His blessings, and grow spiritually based on their own good works.
This is not how God wants his children to live! God's word, the Bible, tells us how we should live. Unfortunately, too many churches and ministries today do not follow the Bible as the one true source of sound doctrine that God has given to us. Instead, professing Christians and the churches they belong to have become victims to one of Satan's favorite ploys -- that people find their spiritual comfort, satisfaction, and peace through church traditions, rituals, programs, and self-effort that emphasize what man can do, rather than rejoicing and resting in a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. They have fallen into the trap of substituting religion for a fantastic relationship with God!
The Apostle Paul strongly rebuked the Galatians for this very thing. After being saved by grace through faith, they were turning away from grace and seeking to grow spiritually by self-effort and following the law.
"You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Gal. 3:1-3)
The Galatians had been deceived by false teachers. They were trying to live the Christian life contrary to God's way. They were not living by grace.
Many believers today are being deceived in the same way. For them, the Christian life has produced more confusion and frustration than the peace and joy they believed was going to be theirs. Is this where you find yourself today? If you desire to experience the abundant life that God has provided for you in his Son, Jesus Christ, we want to help you!
We're not here to give you our opinions or the thoughts of religious scholars on this important subject. Rather, we want to give you information that you need to know in order to move forward confidently and joyfully in your walk with Christ. This information is found in the only place that you can trust in and rest in -- the Bible.
The Apostle Paul, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, gives us further insight on how to live the Christian life:
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Col. 2:6-7)
"For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Rom. 6:14)
The key to experiencing victory in your Christian life is having a biblical understanding of God's grace to you. Part of the thinking process involved in understanding and appreciating God's grace to us is knowing why you and I desperately need it. The Apostle Paul makes it clear in the book of Romans that all of us are sinners. It's only by God's grace that we can be declared righteous by our holy God.
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:21-24)
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:8-9)
God's grace, expressed most fully in the cross-work and resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, gives the believer complete forgiveness of all sins -- past, present, and future sins. The righteousness we desperately need in order to stand before a perfectly holy God and declared "Not Guilty" of our sins is provided by God through Jesus Christ. The One who is perfectly righteous becomes our righteousness when we put our trust in Him. Once enemies of God, we now have total peace with God!
We stand confidently in grace by faith. The only response grace will accept is faith. God's word makes it very clear that the only way a person can receive, experience, and rejoice in God's grace is through faith.
What is so wonderful about God's grace is that it not only gives us the only way, through faith in Jesus Christ, to have our sins forgiven and be saved, it also is God's way that we are to grow in holiness. Our salvation is accomplished by God's grace through faith in Christ and our sanctification is accomplished in the same way! Most Christians understand that they're saved by grace through faith, but don't understand that God's way for them to grow spiritually is by grace through faith. Understanding and resting in this truth is the key to experiencing victory in you Christian life!
Yes! It is vital that we understand these things as we're taught from God's word and led by the Spirit. God's grace to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, is all that we need to live our Christian lives -- God's way. God's grace is not deficient in any way. Grace is God's wonderful system of operating in the lives of believers in Christ. Because of the finished, all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ at the cross and His resurrection -- God can graciously give us all things!
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things." (Rom. 8:32)
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (Eph. 1:3)
All of these spiritual blessings are provided to us because we are in Christ. Every spiritual blessing you're ever going to need to live the Christian life, God has already given to you in His Son!
He gave you all these blessings the moment you trusted in Jesus Christ. Because you were put into Christ when you were saved, you possess all the blessings you'll ever need -- right now!
How amazing is this grace that provides all these blessings! One amazing spiritual blessing a believer receives at the moment of salvation is a new identity.
Understanding that you have a new identity in Christ is foundational to living a victorious grace life.
"Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation." (Gal. 6:15)
Your old self has died. You are a new creation. You have a new life. You are in Christ and the life of Christ is in you. This spiritual reality in the believer is accomplished solely by God through the cross-work and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Words are inadequate to express how amazing this work of God is!
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Rom. 6:3-4)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17)
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)
"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3)
These verses clearly state the new identity believers have in Christ. Because we're in Christ, we died with Him at the cross, we were buried with Him, we've been raised to new life with Him, and we're seated with Him in heaven! Christ died for us and we died with Him! Christ rose from the dead and we have risen with Him!
"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." (2 Cor. 5:14)
The life we now live is Christ's life living in us and through us in the details of our lives. We experience victory in our lives as our faith rests in the knowledge of who we are in Christ because of what He has accomplished for us by His death at the cross and resurrection. This is the grace life God has provided for us through His Son, Jesus Christ!
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter. 1:3)
One thing that needs to be pointed out is the use of the word "baptism" in Rom. 6:3-4. Some people teach that when the word "baptism" is used in the Bible it's always referring to a water ritual. This is simply not true and is certainly not the case here. A careful reading of these verses makes it clear that the "baptism" mentioned by Paul here is a spiritual baptism. It is the work of God where we are put into Christ at the moment we believe -- when we put our trust in Him to save us from our sins.
The unfortunate misunderstanding many believers have about grace is that they have been led to believe that grace works best as they add their performance to it. For example, many believe they need to be water baptized in order to be saved. Obviously, an incorrect interpretation of the word "baptism" in the Bible can lead to that error. But the problem is far broader than that example. Many believers are convinced that there has to be something they have to do -- some activity, ritual, experience, or work -- in order to find acceptance before God and receive His blessings. However, the Bible makes it clear that grace is not earned by human performance, otherwise it wouldn't be grace!
"And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." (Rom. 11:6)
Grace is not against good works. It simply does not bless us on the basis of good works. We receive blessings from God solely from being in His Son. These blessings are freely given to us in Christ and nowhere else. We are delivered from trying to "do good" and "do right" in order to be accepted by God. We are totally accepted by God because we are in Christ and He has totally accepted His Son!
In fact, the good works that the law demands, grace produces! The Apostle Paul declares that it is grace that teaches and motivates the believer to do good works.
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ..." (Titus 2:11-13)
One of the major impediments to spiritual growth is the idea that the successful Christian life consists simply of mastering certain principles or instructions. Many believers can't believe that obedience to God can be accomplished in any other way but by the law principle -- following a set of external rules to please God. The result? Many Christians fail to experience the victory in their lives that God's grace provides.
One of the primary reasons for this is that many churches don't correctly teach the gospel of grace that the Apostle Paul clearly teaches in the Bible! They fail to teach what God is doing today in the dispensation of grace because they're not "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
Today, because of the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary, we live under the rule of grace! Grace sets us free from both sin and the law. God is not requiring us to live under the law system today. The Law was given to the nation Israel and that system was operative for the nation Israel from the time when God gave the Law to His people through Moses until the formation of the church, the Body of Christ. This was the beginning of the dispensation of grace that the Apostle Paul writes about in Eph. 3:2-12.
Our understanding of God's amazing love and grace to us in Christ is what He uses to motivate and encourage us to live holy lives.
"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." (2 Cor. 5:14)
Our faith needs to rest in a correct understanding of God's word to us. It is then that God's word can work in us as the Holy Spirit in us uses that sound doctrine to transform our lives.
"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." (1 Thes. 2:13)
God's word is at work in those who believe! This is an amazing truth that should not be passed over quickly. The Bible is far more than a book of information about God. It is more than a book of information on living a life of faith and holiness. It is more than the history of God's dealings with man. It is the inerrant word of God that works effectively in believers and transforms their lives!
God's word tells us clearly that just as we were saved by grace through faith, we are to live by grace through faith. All of this is accomplished by God through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Because of what Christ has done for you and me, we are new creations in Him, we are complete in Him, we have every spiritual blessing in Him, and we are seated with Him in heavenly places! This is who God says we are!
Furthermore, we have the Holy Spirit in us -- permanently. Therefore, it is impossible for a believer to lose his or her salvation. Those who think a believer can somehow lose his or her salvation don't properly understand or appreciate God's grace to us in Christ.
God's word also says that our old selves died with Jesus at the cross when we trusted in Him. Our lives are now His life living in us and through us, moment by moment, everyday, as we walk by faith.
Because we are in Christ, we are members of the church, the Body of Christ, a spiritual organism made up of all true believers!
There's more! We are God's children and we are saints! This is who God says we are! You are in Christ and Christ lives in you!
Trust Him. Don't live your Christian life by striving and struggling. Rest in Him. Let Him transform you!
Thank you Father, for who you have made us in your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority."
Grace Life Church
Proclaiming Jesus Christ and the Gospel of God's Grace