Disclaimer: What is said below is my trying to bring forth into words the truth brought forth from the scripture. And with my fallible mind creating a fallible train of thought, I suppose the truth contained within must instead become a fallible idea. ~NLY
As I look upon my life I see three things:
1) I call myself a Christian
2) I want to be a Christian
3) I live (as best I know how) like a Christian.
But the real question that I keep coming back to and reminding myself of is this:
Am I a follower of Christ? -A committed disciple? It’s a personal question –and one we should all be asking ourselves.
You see, I have this tendency to forget that my Christian life is about Christ and start focusing on myself. And when I start focusing my Christian walk on myself, suddenly my life’s purpose become this:
Trying not to sin.
Does that sound familiar to more people than just myself? Seriously, folks, this is really a stupid thing to focus on. That isn’t true Christian living!
Johny was a robber. Robbed several banks before he was caught by the police and stuck in prison. Seven years later the president of the United States signed his pardon and set Johny free. Johny certainly learned his lesson –but there is one problem. Johny doesn’t follow the example of the president and focus on making something of himself. Instead he sits around home, afraid to go out lest he become over powered by the temptation to rob a bank and fall back into his old habits…
Just like Johny, we were all sinners and we were living in ‘sin’s prison’. Jesus came along and won the victory over sin and gave each one of us the power to claim liberty through his name, with the condition that we follow his example. But we have this problem of focusing more upon our problem with sin, which I think is probably a lot less of a problem than we can ever imagine.
I don’t strictly believe in ‘once saved always saved’ (I believe that we can tend to err on the extreme side of ‘once saved, barely saved’) . But the real danger I see is not becoming ‘sinners’ again but becoming ‘lukewarm’ like the church at Laodicea. Do you understand what happened there? Things were going so well physically for that church that they filled their lives with physical things until they were at the point where Christ meant little to them. I imagine they did not even recognize the exchange until after the fact.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock!…” (Revelations 3:20)
Do you realize, my friends, that Jesus wasn’t talking to the twelve year old that has never received Christ. He wasn’t talking to murderers and adulterers and disciples of Satan. He was talking to the Christians at Laodicea. These folks had become so focused on their selves and doing what is ‘right’, that Christ got pushed out on the street. This can happen to us too!
There’s a concept in the Bible that I didn’t pick up on until recently. In Romans 7 we see our freedom from the law (which brings sin) explained as a marriage covenant. Until the husband dies, the woman is bound by the law to him and cannot marry another. But when the husband dies, she is free to marry another. In the same way, from birth we were under the unbreakable law of sin, and we were unable to escape that law until we have died (buried with Christ) and born again into a new covenant with Jesus Christ. At this point, we are not bound by the old ‘husband’ (which is dead), but by our new husband Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:1-6)
We must also note that there remains a law in our flesh (body of death) that wars against the new law of our mind (transformed by the renewing of our minds by Jesus Christ), and that we will not be delivered from the warring of flesh versus mind until our bodies of death are transformed on the last day when we are raised up by Christ. (Romans 7:23-25; 8:10,11)
The conclusion I come to over and over again is that we focus overly much on our problem with sin. We worry about the fact that sin cannot enter heaven and even though we are Christians, we still have a problem with sin.
The biggest problem isn’t sin. It’s a lack of commitment to Christ. It’s becoming cooler and cooler to the point that Christ is left knocking at our door. Of course, one can argue that at this point our lives are filled with sin again. But I believe that something remains different. Once we are born again, the sin factor in our lives becomes minimal and the commands to follow after Christ become high priority. From my shaky interpretation of Romans, there is a measure of grace in the lives of Christians. Paul worried that Christians might use it as an occasion to sin and strongly encouraged us that we not do so, but instead to give our bodies to Christ (a living sacrifice) and passionately follow after him.
When we focus on following on Christ, see what happens to our Christian walk. Instead of:
Trying not to sin (a self-centered idea)
Following Jesus Christ (an idea focused on Christ).
As long as we are ‘trying not to sin’, we are progressing the same direction as the church at Laodicea. Focusing on the absence of sin in their lives, they came to the place where they felt comfortable with themselves and the need of Jesus became minimal. We become salt that has lost its effect.
But when we are focused on ‘following Christ’, we are progressing toward fire and the Holy spirit. Our failures (sin) are a constant reminder of our need for Christ, but our focus should be to follow the commands of Christ and not focus on the ‘sinyness of sin’. We should be sharing his message and living by the direction of the Holy Spirit with faith.
Let us seek to follow after Christ each day, disciplining ourselves (something that comes from ourselves) to follow every command, which -when followed- should keep sin far from us as well.