This is a very important area of Christian teaching. We must be able to answer the questions: What does God expect from me in my Christian life? How is it possible for me to live such a life?
A battery will only give light to a torch according to the power in it. A Christian can only live according to how God worked in conversion. Conversion is not only the action of a sinner in faith and repentance; but also the action of God. How do the following passages show God has changed the sinner? A Christian has died to sin (Romans 6:2). A Christian is one who is filled by the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). A Christian is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). A Christian has been raised us up with Christ (Ephesians 2:6). When someone objects that the doctrine of free justification will lead to sin (Romans 6:1), Paul reminds the objector of what has happened to every one who has been converted: he has been united to Christ (verses 2-11), and he has been made a slave of righteousness (verses 12-23). This is why all Christians are described as “saints” = Holy ones (Romans 1:7), and as those who have already been sanctified = set apart for God and His service (1 Corinthians 1:30, 6:11, 1 Peter 1:2). We begin our Christian lives empowered by the Spirit and the power of sin over us broken. So God has given us all needed resources at conversion.
At the end of our Christian lives what should we be like? In life we have goals for all we do. The great goal for the Christian is not wealth, health and long-life, high education, marriage and children. But -
- To be like God in holiness (Matthew 5:48, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 1 John 2:29). God chose us with the purpose to make us holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). Christ loved us and died for us for the same purpose (Ephesians 5:25-27). We must pattern our lives on how God has revealed Himself in the Bible, for example, in kindness, tenderheartedness, forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32-5:1).
- Like Christ (Romans 8:29, 1 John 2:6, 3:3). God’s purpose is to make us like Christ in His human nature, which will be completed on the last day (Philippians 3:20-21, 1 John 3:2). We must imitate Christ, for example, His love (Ephesians 5:2), His humility (Philippians 2:5ff.), His attitude to suffering (1 Peter 2:21ff.).
NECESSITY: This likeness to God and Christ is necessary in order to enter heaven (Matthew 5:8, Hebrews 12:14). Such likeness will not be perfect in this life, but there must be a great difference from before becoming a Christian. Holiness must be the one great mark of our Christian lives.
ASSURANCE: Is it possible to be sure of reaching this goal? Yes, because no one who is a true believer can be lost. Read John 10:28-29, 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, Philippians 1:6. But how can you know if you are a true believer? Note what the following verses say about who will be saved in the end: “he who endures to the end will be ssaved (Matthew 24:13); “if we hold our first confidence firm to the end (Hebrews 3:14). This is the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.
- Use the Means of Grace. In order to persevere to the end you need continual supplies of the grace of God. How does God give grace to us? It is not automatic with no effort on our part. There are public and private means of grace, centered in the Word.
A. PUBLIC MEANS.
- Be committed in attendance at worship (Heb.10:25). It is through the reading and preaching of the Bible that you will know the promises and commandments of God.
- The ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the same Word in the form of symbols. As you respond to the Word in faith it will be a means of grace to you.
- Constant fellowship with other Christians is a great blessing (read Hebrews 3:12-13).
- Then there is the encouragement of praying together (Acts 2:42).
B. PRIVATE MEANS
- Read the Word of God consistently, let it dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16). What benefits come from the Word in the following verses from Psalm 119? Guard the heart (v.9); not sinning (v.11); in affliction Comfort as to give life (v.50); Lamb and light (v.105).
- Pray constantly to commune with your heavenly Father (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- Meditation, a constant consideration of the Word and how it applies to your life, is very important (Psalm 1:2, 119:97).
- Make use of the sufferings God brings into your life, as His Fatherly discipline (Psalm 119:67, Hebrews 12:11).
In His commandments God has clearly shown us the road upon which we must walk. You must know the meaning of the 10 commandments, that they are positive as well as negative, that they cover our thoughts as well as our actions (study Matthew 5:21-30). Do not forget the 4th. commandment! Consider Jesus’ summary of the commandments (Matthew 22:35-40). Practice the love commandment Jesus gave to His disciples (John 13:34-35). There are many passages that outline what our Christian lives ought to be like – Romans 12:9-21, Ephesians 4:25-5:5, Colossians 3:5-17. Such obedience is sure evidence that we know God (1 John 2:3).
3. Put to Death (= Mortify) Sin (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5).
You must be serious in dealing with sin, not only actions, but words and thoughts. Rather than sin, cut off your hand (Matthew 5:30). Do not let sin reign in your mortal body (Romans 6:12).
- Deliverance – We sin because we have evil spirits from which we must be delivered.
- Second Blessing – We can be holy if only we are baptized with the Spirit of God.
- Keswick – Stop struggling and let Christ take over and live His life through you.
Write TRUE or FALSE for each of the following statements:
_____ The Holy Spirit was given us at conversion so that we might become holy.
_____ It is impossible to be perfectly like God in this life.
_____ If you profess salvation in Christ you will surely get to heaven.
_____ The Christian life is a difficult life of constant struggle.
_____ The 10 commandments were only for the Old Testament people of God.
The following books are recommended on the Christian Life:
- Alderson, No Holiness, No Heaven;
- Ferguson, Grow in Grace;
- Ryle, Holiness and Practical Religion.