Daily, the media reports evidence that convicts high profile individuals of behaviors which, in many instances, renders them disqualified for the position they hold. As I read the accounts, the Holy Spirit probes my heart with the question, “Pat, if it becomes a crime to be a Christian, would there be adequate evidence in your lifestyle to convict you?” This question challenges me to probe my life to discern whether I am embracing a lifestyle that pleases God. I pray that you will consider the question as well.
My salvation was the miracle of a moment while the personal commitment of my life to following Christ in obedience to His commands is the work of a lifetime (2 Tim. 1:12). Hebrews 11:6 defines the step of faith that I took when I prayed to be adopted into God’s forever family. It was not simply a lip-service prayer that provided me with a “fire insurance” policy that I filed away for an emergency. Rather, it is a combination of consistent reliance on Christ and commitment to Him. This faith assures me of a future reality that is not based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance. Ephesians 2:8 clearly states that faith is part of the gift of God that saves. I could not exercise this faith in my own strength—it is a precious gift from my heavenly Father.
My salvation involved the redemption of my entire life and was offered freely to me when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior (1 Pet. 1:18-19). It necessitated a charge of heart, or regeneration, stimulated by the Holy Spirit, when I was convicted of sin and responded in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:3-7). The moment my salvation occurred, I began my Christian walk. Each day, by God’s grace, I add evidence that would convict me if being a Christian becomes a crime.
The Apostle Paul presents four keys to the Christian walk in Philippians 3:12-14 that provide direction to the evidence collection that could lead to conviction—a genuine restlessness (Phil. 3:12), a solitary longing (Phil. 3:13), a wholehearted purpose (Phil. 3:12, 14), and a definite goal (Phil. 3:13, 14). Paul’s genuine restlessness is a model for all believers. While he was satisfied with his Savior and his salvation, he was dissatisfied with his flesh—he was restless with his spiritual status because he was not all that he knew that he could or should be. The Christian life is to be exciting—and as Christians, we should be excited about growing, regardless of our spiritual age.
Paul’s solitary longing helps us to eliminate the unnecessary from our lives. Our quest toward Christlikeness puts life into a single focus—Paul says, “this one thing I do." As Christians we are to have only one goal—to serve God with our entire being (1 Cor. 6:12). Our Lord Jesus serves as the ultimate role model for this solitary longing.
Paul’s wholehearted purpose helped him to focus on his determination to keep moving toward the goal. We will not succeed if we do not have a strong determination, but its source must be executed in the strength of the Holy Spirit, not simply our sheer determination (Phil. 4:13). As Christians, are we mature enough to keep pursuing our “upward call” (Phil. 3:14) when it would be easier to quit or succumb to the lure of worldly choices?
Finally, Paul had a definite goal, and he moved toward it with tenacity. Serving God with our entire being challenges us to refuse to dwell on the past—regardless of whether it is filled with success or sin. What we are today is what counts! Paul challenges us to refuse to drink from the cup of self-pity and to release past grudges and incidents of mistreatment—he forgot these and died climbing!
Kelsey’s Korner furthers our understanding of how to gather adequate evidence for conviction and additional tips for the Christian walk.
I grew up in the Bible Belt of Texas and attended public school from grades K-12. I have had a unique vantage point, to say the least. It was surprisingly “cool” to be a Christian where I lived, and almost everyone I knew claimed the name. Very few, however, lived like a Christian. I remember watching some of my fellow classmates attend school Bible studies, choose Old and New Testament as their semester electives (yes, we had that in my public high school!), and even passionately talk about God or their churches. Yet most of these “Christians” spent their weekends getting drunk, smoking pot, and sleeping around—not thinking twice about any of it when the new school week rolled around. Does that mean they weren’t saved? In all likelihood, they were not. Their lives could not have been more contradictory from the faith they claimed.
Scripture tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), meaning each and every one of us has sinned and equally deserves the wrath of our Righteous God. Through our sin we built a barrier between us and God, for he cannot look upon sin (Hab. 1:13). We are unable to do anything to gain salvation, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in out trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…For by grace [we] have been saved through faith. This is not [our] own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:4-5, 8). When we truly trust in the work that Christ did on the cross, Scripture tells us we will be saved (John 3:15-16). Then, when the Lord looks at us, He no longer sees our sins, for we will be credited Christ’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)! Many people stop there. Since we are saved while we are yet sinners, since all we have to do is “believe,” since God loves us and wants us to be happy, they continue in their sins, taking His great grace for granted.
Yet Scripture tells us that when we are truly saved, we are a new creation! The old has passed away and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). We are called to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…[to] put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:12, 14). True life change will follow when someone has been truly saved. The Holy Spirit, given to us at salvation, will convict the redeemed believer of sin (John 16:8). Our love and gratitude to God, for taking us into the kingdom of God despite our sin, should drive everything we do. The book of James helps us understand the substance that’s behind our faith. “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17), meaning if our actions do not match our statement of faith and belief, we have no faith at all—we are indeed still dead in our sins and in need of salvation. James goes on to draw a distinction between true saving faith and simply believing in God, for “Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). Our actions are evidence of our heart, whether we truly have been made new by the work and convictions of the Holy Spirit, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:26). Jesus, in the gospel of Matthew, lets us know that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Now, those who are truly saved do still fall into sin. But their love for sin has turned into disgust (see Romans 7:15-25)! They are sad when they sin, and daily ask forgiveness from God.
So, do you know Jesus? Are you truly His? Does your life reflect one who has been transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13)? If not, I urge you to confess your sins to God, for He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Daily, out of love, gratitude, and obedience, put off the former ways and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), and “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
Jesus has said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “Jesus’ promise to me of an abundant life gives me reason for constant hope.”
Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!