How To Live the Christian Life

(1st article in the Discipleship Series)

You want to live your life for Christ.  Hopefully you understand that the first step in doing so requires a birth— you must be born into the Kingdom of God.

To understand why, read my articles:

You’ll discover that Christ came to live and die so you could have a new life.  Once you apply His life to yours by faith, you’ll be ready to live the Christian life.

This article will show you how.  It’s based on 3 foundational principles.

Principle #1

Your new nature is perfect— it is your new identity.

Many times Christians approach life from the wrong perspective.  They see themselves as “sinners— saved by grace”.  As a result they start working to make themselves better.

But God doesn’t want us to work to get better.  He wants us to approach life from the perspective of who we currently are— new creatures in Christ.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.2 Corinthians 5:17
We are new creatures in Christ— perfect, seated with Him in heavenly places.
(God) hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 2:6
Therefore, how we view ourselves dictates how we deal with sin.

If we think of ourselves as sinners on earth, we’ll be compelled to do something about our sin.  We’ll start operating out of an earthly works based perspective.  But if we think of ourselves as perfect with Christ in God’s Kingdom, we’ll deal with sin from a heavenly faith based perspective.  Dealing with sin is about remaining in the Kingdom.  It’s about keeping our perspective or identity in Christ and His Kingdom.

Let me show you how it works.

Principle #2

Dealing with sin is about remaining in the Kingdom of God.

Everything is perfect in God’s Kingdom.

What do you suppose is the expression of God’s Kingdom?  By that, I mean how do you suppose the citizens of God’s Kingdom behave?

I suppose they would behave like the KING, since they are born of the King.  They have His nature, they have His DNA (Matthew 5:48).

The Bible tells us what the fruit of God’s Spirit is:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
Therefore, since we also reside in God’s Kingdom, we also display His fruits.  In heaven we are:

•  Love
•  Joy
•  Peace
•  Longsuffering
•  Gentleness
•  Goodness
•  Faith
•  Meekness
•  Temperance

But how do we deal with our sin on earth?

We remain in the Kingdom.

If when you get up in the morning, make your coffee, have your breakfast then... SCREAM at your wife, you are NOT in the Kingdom of God—  you have mentally left it.  You are not displaying the fruit of God’s Spirit which is gentleness.

So what do you do?

You simply RETURN to God’s Kingdom.

How do you return to God’s Kingdom?  You confess your earthly sin to God:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Returning to the Kingdom means that you must die to yourself (Matthew 16:24-25).  Sometimes we don’t want to die to ourselves.  Telling people off can feel good.  But that is what God requires in order to deal with our sin and cleanse us for all unrighteousness.

Once we confess our sin to God, He is faithful to forgive our sin and cleanse us of that sin.

Mentally you are back in the Kingdom.  You have dealt with sin from a Kingdom perspective.

As I have said, dealing with sin is not WORKING to get better, it’s simply REMAINING in the Kingdom.  This is so because Jesus ALREADY dealt with our sin through His death and resurrection.  He did all the work because we never could.  Our job is to just mentally remain in God’s Kingdom because spiritually, by birth, we are already there.

When we hurt other people, God often convicts us to go to that person and ask their forgiveness as well (Matthew 5:23-24).  But the concept here is that earthly sin is dealt with when we confess it to God in faith, not because we have to do something to be forgiven.  In this case, our forgiveness is received from God by our faithful confession, not because we earned it through our actions.

We don’t have to say ten “Hail Mary’s” or work for recompense.  Even if your wife doesn’t forgive you, GOD DOES!  When people don’t forgive us for our failures many times God uses this to challenge us in other areas of Kingdom fruit— meekness, goodness etc..

In every case when we sin we simply confess it to God and ask Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Immediately He forgives us and we are cleansed whether we FEEL like it or not.

In a practical sense, you may wonder how this seemingly passive acceptance of God’s grace actually changes us here in the present?

The way it changes us is that with each sin and each confession, God WASHES our mind, will and emotions to correspond to the sinless part of us (our justified spirit) living in God’s Kingdom.  Our mind, will and emotions on earth are being transformed to correspond with who we really are in heaven.  So while the temptation to DO something exists, you have to understand that when you were born into God's Kingdom you were ALREADY changed (given a sinless nature).  God is just using TIME to bring your mind, will and emotions up to speed with your spirit already in heaven.

Principal #3

Bring heaven to earth through Christ in you.

As we have discussed, we are born into the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 2:6).  However did you know, that the Kingdom of God is also born in you?
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU.Luke 17:20-21
The Kingdom of God resides within us because we have been given the Spirit of God— the Holy Spirit.  As the scripture below explains, how else could we know what God is thinking— we have the mind of Christ.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God... WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.1 Corinthians 2:11-12,16b
If you don’t hear His voice in you, it’s because the pattern of this world is drowning Him out.  What you need to do is reprogram your thinking.
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.Romans 12:2
Our thinking is reprogramed when we read the Bible.

The Bible is like a mirror.  It reflects the Christ in you back to you, allowing your flesh driven soul (mind, will and emotions) to be changed into His image.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror/Bible) the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.2 Corinthians 3:18

The Bible reflects the Christ in us back to us modeling our mind, will and emotions.

This only occurs when we read the Bible.  If you stop reading the Bible, you FORGET who you are and your mind, will, and emotions are NOT changed (You can also listen to the Bible at Gateway Audio Bibles).
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway FORGETTETH WHAT MANNER OF MAN HE WAS.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.James 1:23-25
So in order for your mind, will and emotions to be changed on earth, you have to gaze into the Word of Truth— daily.  If you don’t, your flesh driven soul will not be transformed into who you are in heaven.

To do this is sacrifice.  We have to die to the wants and wishes and distractions of the world around us (Luke 9:23).

If you don’t know how to study the Bible, read my article, How To Get the Most Out of the Bible.

Get a piece of God’s Word in you at least 3 times a day— morning, noon and night.  That’s what King David did.
I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.  EVENING, AND MORNING, AND AT NOON, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.Psalm 55:16-17
This can involve:

• A moment of prayer.
• Mediation on, or memorization of, a piece of scripture (Psalm 119:11).
• Study of the Word.

The point is, just take a moment to change the mental pattern of your day— at least 3 times a day.

What is it we are looking for when we read or study the Word of God?

1.  Knowledge.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Bible provides the kind of knowledge that will guide your life: foundational teaching (doctrine), rebuke (reproof), and correction.

But did you know that “knowledge” isn’t the main purpose of the Bible?  It’s main purpose is to CHANGE you!

You see the Bible explains that someone could have ALL KNOWLEDGE and still not be changed— they could be nothing!

They could be:

• Proficient in all languages
• Gifted
• Benevolent
• Even sacrificial

... and still be NOTHING in God’s eyes.

What God wants, and what He has designed the Bible to do, is change us into His likeness.

God’s likeness is LOVE (1 John 4:7-8).  God wants us to exude love!

Notice how the Bible compares knowledge with love:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and ALL KNOWLEDGE; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have NOT CHARITY (love), I am NOTHING.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Therefore while knowledge is “okay”, the most important thing to look for when studying the Bible is:

2.  How God’s love is expressed.

As I mentioned before, God’s nature, therefore His love, is expressed through the Fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
If we were to define love, love would be:

• Joy
• Peace
• Longsuffering
• Gentleness
• Goodness
• Faith
• Meekness
• Temperance

Because God's Spirit is in us, we can also express His fruit.

That's why the Apostle Paul was able to say:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20 
In the coming months, I will discuss the Fruit of the Spirit, what it is and how to reflect it in your life.

By the end of the series you’ll be in a position to LOVE, fulfilling the greatest of all commandments:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.Matthew 22:37-39
The first fruit in the series?  Meekness.  I will discuss what meekness is and why it is the foundational fruit for all the other fruits that make up love.

You can find that article here, Meekness: Having a Servant's Heart.