Christian Life I

Christian Life I

Topics dealt with in this lesson:

  • The Victorious Christian Life
  • The Spiritual Armour
  • The True Meaning Of The Cross

Introduction

Just like rain falling on dry land making it fruitful, so it is when a person becomes a Christian. This is the beginning of a new living relationship based on the love and grace of Jesus Christ (1 Jn 4:10).

In the previous Bible Based Teaching papers, we studied the foundation of our Christian faith and defined the Christian as a person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and has started a new life living in union with him. Please read about the way of salvation in BBT 6 before going on to this leaflet and the next. Christianity is not just about believing the truth – it’s about living it. It is not only about justification – it is also about sanctification. If we have never given our life to the Lord and have never accepted his grace, then we will never be able to live a Christian life. But if Christ has saved us, then his grace and love will become visible in our lives and our faith will show itself in our actions (Ja 2:17). As you go through the different topics, please do look up all Bible references. It will help you immensely to come to a deeper understanding of God’s word and will.

The Victorious Christian Life

A mother bird is sitting on the nest hatching her eggs. One day the eggs crack and the baby birds are born. Weak and without feathers they might sound like birds, but they don’t look like real birds, do they? They are hungry and greedily gobble down what their parents feed them. Inside, they are identical to their parents and will sooner or later learn to fly. This is their true purpose, not to stay forever in the nest or be stolen and eaten, or even worse, fall out and be trampled on.

This illustration may help us understand what the Christian life is about. As our Saviour, Jesus has given us new birth. He wants us to triumph over sin and be free like the birds in flight, carried by the air current on the ups and downs of life. Some Christians “learn to fly” from the first day. They simply trust the Lord to carry them through. They follow him faithfully and experience the thrill of being free from sin. They are victorious. Others take a lot of time to grow spiritually. They don’t easily understand what the Lord tells them in his word and need a lot of care and attention until they grasp the victorious life in Christ. Still others are forever “clinging to the nest”. When will they put their faith into practice? Why don’t they “learn to fly”? They have no victory over sin, and no one can tell the difference between their life now and before. They have not understood the real purpose of being a Christian.

The question is: What is the difference between the life of a Christian and a non-Christian? Are we Christians because we don’t smoke, we are not corrupt, we go to church on Sunday, we read our Bible, etc? Surely these things are part of the Christian life. But the root of the new life lies in the fact that Christ lives in us and we live in him!

“For everyone born of God overcomes the world (with all its lusts and temptations). This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 Jn 5:4).

Praise God! He gives us other promises too that help us daily to live a life of victory.

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Ro 6:14).“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ” (2 Co 2:14).

“Always,” says the Bible, not just sometimes, e.g. on good days! Ours is the victory through Christ.

What else helps us to live victorious lives? Our faith! says the Bible. Our salvation is a gift. We do not deserve it or earn it. We are saved by faith. Victory is also a gift. We cannot achieve victory in our own strength.

“The righteous will live (a victorious life) by faith“ (Ro 1:7).

The secret of a victorious life – identification with Christ

Praise God, we can know the secret of a victorious life!

  • We need to become like Christ (identify with him) in his death (Ro 6:6-7).
  • We need to become like Christ (identify with him) in his burial (Ro 6:4a).
  • We need to become like Christ (identify with him) in his resurrection (Ro 6:4b,5).
  • As a result of all these, we share or identify ourselves with Christ’s present triumphant life.    Ro 6:6b “… that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”    Gal 2:20 “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.”    2 Co 5:15 “Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”    Col 1:27 “… God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches …, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Again: The secret of a victorious life is the indwelling Christ living in the heart and life of each believer. Christ wants to become the Lord and Master in each believer’s life.Reasons why we might lose the battle against sinIn spite of the wonderful facts stated above, here are some reasons why we Christians might still be facing a losing battle:–    If we deny that it is possible in today’s world to live a victorious life.–    If we still “love or cherish” some sins and are not willing to let them go. It means, we do not allow Christ to be the master of our lives.–    If our worship is man-centred as opposed to God-centred. Our aim should not be to impress and manipulate God, in order to get out of him what we desire, but to glorify him.–    If we try in our own strength to be model Christians by participating in certain church rituals. We want to impress others by praying more, fasting more, reading the Bible more, giving more, etc.–    If we are proud of our own achievements like the Pharisee Saul who thought that obeying the Law would meet the requirements for righteousness (Ph 3:9).The right approach to winning the battle–    Christians need to yield or offer their lives to Christ. This is not something that happens once for all. No! We need to daily remind ourselves that we belong to Christ. We do not belong to ourselves anymore or to the world with all its lusts or to Satan (Ro 6:13).–    The choice is ours! Do we want to live a life of defeat or a life of victory? Please read Ro 6:16.I do trust that all our hearts’ desire is to lead a life in obedience, righteousness and holiness.And one last questionWhat shall we do if we have failed Christ and fallen into sin? Shall we give up? Shall we deny that we committed sin? Shall we say, “Never mind, just forget about it and move on in life?” The answer is, “No, and no again!”Remember, 1 Jn 1:9 is still true, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”Christ does not fail us. Our fall does not weaken Christ. He will forgive us and use our fall to strengthen us against similar failures. Do not rely on past victories for future victories! Always rely on Christ alone! He IS our victory!The Spiritual ArmourLife is not easy. Christians are in a spiritual battle against Satan and his troops (Eph 6:12). Jesus didn’t leave us to our own fate but equipped us to win the battle. Something very important happened at the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. We were made alive in Christ and Satan was disarmed and defeated (Co 2:15). Praise God! Satan’s defeat is not in the future; it has already happened. Yes, it is true: Satan is a defeated enemy! However God still allows him to continue with his destructive work, even if only for an appointed time. Please note: We cannot destroy Satan, our enemy. However God sent his Son to destroy the devil‘s WORK (1 Jn 3:8-9). And again, by living a life in communion with our Saviour Jesus Christ, Satan will not be able to trick us into doing evil work.Who is Christ? –    the captain of our salvation (Heb 2:10 KJV),–    the head of the New Testament church (Eph 1:22).–    our advocate (1 Jn 2:1) –    our high priest (Heb 2:17).How Christ supports usIn order to withstand the devil and his evil and cunning tricks Christ has given us all the necessary teaching, training and armour.Jesus reminds us of our identity. We belong to him. As children of God we are given his grace and love, which produces in us the ability to put all this good advice about the Christian lifestyle into practice. He will put his laws in our minds and write them on our hearts because he has made a new covenant with us through his blood (He 8:10, He 9:14-15).“You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (1 Th 5:5-8).We employed two men to watch at night at our mission station. The station was fenced in and the gates securely locked. One night when both watchmen were sound asleep, some thieves cut their way through the fence. They approached the sleeping men. They woke them up quite rudely by poking their guns at their foreheads. Poor watchmen! They had no chance in the world to overcome the thieves. The opposite happened. The intruders bound and gagged the watchmen and took off with a car and a bundle of keys. We should not tolerate sin and disobedience in our life. They make us spiritually sleepy. Rather, we should at all times be alert and self-controlled. Only then will we be able to detect and withstand the approaching enemy. There are times when Christians and God‘s co-workers are attacked, put to shame and laughed at. In this case, 2 Co 6:4-7 shows that we should react with weapons of righteousness.“As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.” These weapons of righteousness include the following advice:“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Ro 12:17,20-21). Another piece of armour is described in Ro 13:12-13:“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.” This armour of light is further described in Tit 2:6-8.     Please, look it up yourself!Truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation and the word of God is described as armour in Eph 6:10-20. It is provided free of charge, directly from God’s own storehouse. All we have to do is put it on for protection. A soldier does not use the helmet or his belt or breastplate to attack the enemy. Likewise God does not command us to destroy the rulers of darkness and ban all satanic forces from the surface of the earth. But he tells us to flee from all kinds of temptations like quarrelling, envy, love of money etc. He also encourages us to fight the good fight of the faith, pursuing Christian qualities like righteousness, love, endurance, gentleness etc. (1 Tim 6:11)Most of my college mates are now workers and others have become business people and are wealthy. They seem to be financially better off than I am. Friends and relatives accord them more respect than me simply because they have chosen “the right kind of job”, not like me who is a missionary. For some of my friends, missionary work is a menial task for school drop-outs or the underprivileged in society. But in reality it is a blessing. My blessings do not come from being poor or hungry but from pursuing the things of God, which are of eternal value.Testimony from GhanaMany trials come our way. This is why God tells us to put on his whole armour, covering us from head to foot so that we can stand firm and resist the enemy. Last but not least, remember: We are at war and we fight as a TEAM! Pray for each other! Warn each other! Support and help each other! The true meaning of the CrossFor most Christians today the cross is a nice symbol. We like it as decoration in our church buildings or we hang it around our necks.Some attribute supernatural power to the cross or to other Christian objects such as the Bible or religious relicts. They feel safe and secure as long as they carry them around.The story is told of soldiers during one of those murderous wars. They asked for pocket Bibles and carried them around in their uniforms – mind you – not to read them! What for then? The soldiers had the wrong idea, that God would surely keep them safe and sound as long as they carried His word with them. This is idolatry! We should worship the one and true living God only who is Spirit. We should not worship objects and put our trust in them. Crosses or the Bible have no magic or supernatural power to keep us from trouble. It is God, “who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24).What then is the true meaning of the cross? The cross is the most cruel instrument to execute humans. At the time of Jesus, Romans would never nail a Roman citizen to a cross. This was much too brutal. In a spiritual way the cross has still got the same function today – to kill! Go back to the subheading on page 1: The secret of a victorious life – identification with Christ.–    We need to become like Christ (identify with him) in his death (Ro 6:6-7).We need to understand that only a dead person can be raised back to life.In other words, if the cross hasn’t done its work properly, we will never be able to receive new life. We can go to church all our lives and behave like Christians, but if our old inner self has not died with Christ on his cross, we will never be able to enter into spiritual life and become members of God’s family. Let us not join the ranks of those who are ashamed of the cross. They rather preach the Law or morality and one’s own efforts to earn and enter heaven. Or they hold the belief that all faiths and religions are to be regarded as equal, and that there is “some” truth found in every doctrinal statement. The Apostle Paul would never have agreed with such arguments of those so-called “ministers of religion”. Paul clearly and bluntly stated, “But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ (is) the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Co 1:23-24). Taking up one’s crossMonths before Jesus died on the cross he talked to his followers about true discipleship. Please read Mt 16:24-25. Jesus urges his disciples to take up their cross in the same way as criminals would carry their own cross to the place of execution. Following Jesus, therefore, means a true commitment, the risk of death and no turning back (see Mt 10:38).If we try to save our physical life from death, pain, or discomfort, we may risk losing our true eternal life. If we protect ourselves from pain, we begin to die spiritually and emotionally. Our lives turn inward, and we lose our intended purpose. When we give our lives in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living. Let us close this study with this triumphant song,“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (Rev 5:12)Robert OppligerBible used: NIVLiterature used: –    One Hundred Bible Lessons by Alban Douglas–    Commentaries from “Life Application Bible”.