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CHRISTIAN LIFE - BEING A CHRISTIAN Ephesians 1: 22 -2:10

BEING A CHRISTIAN

Ephesians 1:22-2:10

Each of us has the capacity to sin because we still have our naturalness which causes us to seek sinful desires. But in Galatians 5:16-17, God promised that if we walk by His Spirit, we won't carry out these desires. He enables us to overcome temptation. Although we may sin occasionally, we should never let it become our habitual practice.

Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is the most important decision anyone will ever make. Jesus gives guidance for distinguishing whether someone is walking on the narrow or broad way (Matthew 7:20-23).  Jesus says that people are known by the fruit in their life, not just their verbal profession that Jesus is Lord.  His words reveal that they had not taken the narrow road of salvation because their faith wasn't authentic since it didn't result in a changed life.

No one has to remain on the wide path headed for eternal destruction. Those who truly believe in Christ and are willing to repent of sin and surrender their lives to Him can enter the small gate and begin following God. Believing in Christ is more than just mental belief that He is the Son of God. In the New Testament, the word “believe” signifies action. The key to the Christian life is to allow Christ to live His life through you.

Let's review what the Bible says about our lives before we were redeemed.

  • No matter how good we seemed to others, Scripture says our sins separated us from God.
  • Because He is holy, He cannot tolerate sinfulness.
  • Isaiah 59:2 says He wouldn’t respond to pagan prayers. Of course, He heard our prayers of repentance.
  • Until we accepted God's gift of salvation, we were dead spiritually (Ephesians 2:1-3).
  • Every person without Christ is separated from the Father.
  • Before we are saved, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our need for God's forgiveness. Then we confess­ that we have disobeyed.

What decisions have you made which have led you to the place you are now?

What blessings or negative consequences have resulted?

What guides your decision making?

Have you contemplated where your choices will lead you?

Do you usually consider what God desires for you?

Which path are you traveling today—the narrow road or the broad way?

Have you tried to straddle both paths so you can have your way and still go to Heaven? Why won't this work?

What evidence or fruit in your life proves that you have been transformed into a new creation?

No one can live the Christian life in his or her own strength. Jesus said that He would send a “Comforter,” the Holy Spirit. When we rely on Him, He helps us think, act, and react as Jesus would in our place. As we develop spiritually, we grow in our ability to allow Him to live through us (Galatians 2:20). Galatians 5:22-23 explains that the believer, led by the Holy Spirit, possesses "the fruit of the Spirit” which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

Each morning you and I can pray something like this: "Lord, it's your life—I've surrendered it all to you. Thank You for dealing with each issue I face today." We will still experience temptation and adversity, but now we know it's not our responsibility to face those things in our own strength. In His power, we can have joyful, confident, and productive lives.

What steps should you take if you desire to let Jesus live His life through you?

  • Admit your failure. Acknowledge that you feel spiritually frustrated or defeated. You have tried to live the Christian life and been unsuccessful.
  • Confess your inadequacy. Realize that even if you were given countless chances, you could not achieve spiritual victory on your own.
  • Accept Jesus' death on the cross as forgiveness for your sins. Repentance, or turning away from our old lifestyles to new life, is another vital part of salvation as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

At the moment of conversion,

  • Our sins are washed away.
  • Our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
  • The Holy Spirit seals us forever as His children.
  • Our guilt is erased.We are assured of eternal life.

But we still have two problems.

  1. Our world is full of rebellion, disobedience, corruption, and wickedness. It constantly challenges us to reject or ignore God's best for our lives.
  2. We still have what the Bible calls "the flesh," or that part of us that desires to rebel against God.

Because of these two things, we will never reach a point in our lifetimes where we never sin.

The key to godly living is relying on Jesus to live through us. The fact that we are "in Christ" makes us fit for Heaven; "Christ in us" makes us fit for this life (John 17:22-23). We died to our old selves and were raised to new life. This is one reason why Scripture refers to the salvation experience as being "born again" as in John 3:3.

Acknowledge that Christ is sufficient. Since He is God, He has the ability to meet all your needs—wisdom for every decision, strength for every situation.

Abandon your life to Him. You must let Him live His life through you. Let go of your own efforts to "be a good Christian" or "do enough" to please Him. Instead, surrender your life to Him and rely on His strength.

Confess it to be true. In other words, state out loud, "Jesus, please live Your life through me. I surrender to your will and yield myself to you." This is not a one-time commitment. You will probably have to surrender to Him over and over. When you fail, remind yourself again that you cannot live the Christian life in your own power—Jesus must live it through you. 

Of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control

  • Which qualities are evident in your life?
  • Which characteristics come easy to you?
  • With which ones do you struggle?

Many Christians think being involved in church isn't necessary. Quite often, believers express the opinion that commitment to a local body isn't required for a strong relationship with God. They argue that fellowships are far from perfect: churches have conflict with other churches, people in the same congregation don't always get along, and some Christians are hypocritical. I understand all of these complaints.

But as followers of Christ, we shouldn't base our actions on merely an assessment of the facts. We must follow the counsel of Hebrews 10:24-25.

Who is going to run your life--you or Jesus Christ?

If you are wise, you will allow the Son of God to direct you each day. Let Him give you guidance, direction, and power to make godly choices. Does that mean you will escape all problems, heartaches, and burdens? No. Nor does it mean that you will never sin again. But you won't have to struggle on your own. Instead, you can walk in the power of the living God—and that is life at its very best. It's true that some people can't attend church due to physical limitations, and others have no Bible-believing congregations in their area. But aside from those exceptions, everyone who wants to maintain a vital, growing relationship with Jesus Christ needs to be involved in a local body of believers.

Who created the concept of church? Scripture clearly teaches that the Church was established by our Savior Himself. In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples who they said He was. Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not destroy it." The "rock” Jesus referred to is Jesus Himself, not Peter as some believe. Jesus is the Savior of the world, humanity's only hope. This is the foundation upon which Jesus established the Church, and no evil force can prevail against it.

Throughout history, movements have come and gone. The Church, also called the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:27, has flourished for centuries. Why has the Church survived when so many other institutions have failed? Because it belongs to God, not to men and women. Jesus is the Originator and Sustainer of the Church. Today, He ministers to believers and unbelievers through His Body, the Church.

When Christians claim they don't need church, what does that imply? If we can walk closely with God without the fellowship of other believers, then assembling on Sunday morning is a waste of time. People who believe this say that we don't need other Christians for support, encouragement, or prayer. One of the main problems with this perspective is what it implies. If believers can maintain an intimate relationship with God apart from church involvement, then Jesus made a big mistake.

Of course, our Lord didn't make a mistake when He established His Church. You and I need other believers, people God commands us to love as ourselves—a mandate second only to loving Him wholeheartedly as written in Matthew 22:37-39. The Christian life is all about relationships—with the Lord and other people.

Our Father desires us to be involved in a local fellowship,

  • To exercise spiritual gifts. Our supernatural blessings such as administration, organization, and mercy are to be used "for the common good" in the body of Christ as 1 Corinthians 12:7 states.
  • To develop an atmosphere of support. The New Testament is full of advice concerning how we relate to others. As believers, we are told to love, forgive, accept, encourage, and serve one another. Also, we should be patient and always seek to comfort, inspire, and fellowship with other Christians. And Scripture exhorts us to confess our sins to one another. It is through working together that believers are able to accomplish God's will, No pastor is able to reach everyone.

Why should believers assemble together as a church?

  • To worship. When we gather for church, we usually praise God in song, giving Him thanks for the good things He's done. Worshipping Him lifts our spirits and strengthens our souls. Many of the songs are full of theological truths that educate us about the blessings we have in Him.
  • To learn the Word of God. In church, we often have the opportunity to learn from those with special Biblical training or deep spiritual maturity. Be ready to check any teaching against the whole counsel of Scripture. Pulling verses out of context can lead to doctrinal errors. We are living in a time when many people don't want to listen to sound doctrine. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:3 that they prefer to have "their ears tickled"—that is, to hear only what sounds good to them.
  • To fulfill the Great Commission.  Most of us aren't able to move across the world, learn a new language and culture, and try to reach the local people with the Gospel. But as the Body of Christ, we send missionaries to far off places. We support them through our prayers, letters or email, and financial support. Together, we can fulfill the command of Matthew 28:18-20 to take the good news to the nations.
  • To protect themselves. When someone stops attending church, it is almost inevitable that he or she will begin to drift away from God. Hearing scriptural truth each week helps hold believers accountable to high moral, ethical, and spiritual standards. Otherwise, the world's messages, which constantly bombard our minds, tend to distract us from the still, small voice of God.
  • To strengthen and broaden the Christian impact on the world. When believers are committed to a local fellowship, the influence of that church is greatly multiplied. Together, we can raise funds for both local ministry and world missions and develop effective ways to reach our communities. God works powerfully through churches where each person believes he or she is making a valuable contribution to the work of the ministry. In His eyes, all believers are equally important and loved.

God's purposes for you can be fulfilled if you are committed to a local body of believers. There, you can receive solid instruction in the Word of God, participate in corporate worship, and find opportunities to exercise your spiritual gifts.

THE INVITATION

You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).

To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).

You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:

Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.

I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.                                 Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.

In Your name I pray, Amen.