If you have ever asked why the Christian life can seem difficult to live out, you are not alone.
Taking what you learned at church on Sunday morning with you to work on Monday afternoon is not always so easy. Ever tried to stop being secretly prideful or critical of others? Do you genuinely love others the way Christ has asked us to? The apostle Paul wrote that the Christian walk is actually impossible to do–at least on our own. Now, the good News is, living a righteous and holy life is possible: Jesus did it. But how does knowing that help us? After all, you might rightly point out that none of us are Jesus. Before we answer, let’s consider the alternative to righteous living: the mastery of sin over us.
Are there any behavior patterns in your life that you would say you are not “proud of”? To put it bluntly, do you feel stuck in any sinful habits that you know do not please God and that you wish you did not do? If you are like me, that is, if you are human, you have discovered the all-too-painful truth that there is more to us on the inside than what we show others on the outside. And, what is deep down in our hearts is not always nice.
Even worse, it feels as though a life of consistent holiness and righteousness doesn’t seem obtainable. Paul described what happens when a person sincerely tries to please God apart from Jesus Christ. Using himself as an example, Paul writes, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within the members” (NIV, 7:21b-23).
The bad News is that though we are not all as bad as we can be, we are all as bad off as we can be. Sin dominates every area of our lives apart from the gracious work of Christ on our behalf. Now that we have painted a rather bleak picture of the condition of our hearts apart from Christ, how do we do the impossible and live holy and righteously as Jesus did?
We already have part of the answer, that is, the fact that Jesus lived a life that perfectly pleased His heavenly Father. Now, wouldn’t it be amazing if Jesus could somehow live His life through us, thereby enabling us to live victoriously over sinful habits and behavior? In fact, that is exactly what the Bible teaches! How do we live righteously? The answer is faith, pure and simple! More specifically, we by faith, surrender our lives to Christ and allow Him to live through us.
The Bible teaches that it is by faith in God’s grace that we come to experience a spiritual rebirth and forgiveness for all of our sin. That is, God completely forgives us of our sins when we come to that place of recognizing that we have sinned and then place our trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as the payment for our sin. It is therefore by our faith that we are saved from the penalty of our sin.
But it is also by faith that we are cleansed of the lifestyle of our sin and its mastery over us! One key to living a holy life is this: we live righteously not by our own resolve but by trusting in the power of God’s Spirit within us to empower us to live righteously.
The apostle Paul wrote of the remarkable and life-changing truth that Christ literally lives His life through us as we step out in faith, trusting God to empower us and enable this transformation to happen. In Gal. 2:20 Paul writes, “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 love me and gave himself for me” (NIV).
Do we have a part to play in living a holy life? Absolutely! The second key to holy living is to continuously wash our minds with God’s written word, the Bible, and then step out in faithful obedience to what we know God has asked of us in the Bible.
As we seek to obey the Lord and trust in His Spirit to bear fruit in us and through us, we will begin to see drastic changes in our thoughts, words, and actions. What may begin as a conscious decision to stop sinning in certain areas will eventually transform into a set of godly habits that define our character and reputation.
God desires to bear the fruit of the character of Christ in us by His Spirit who resides in us. If you would like to dig into the remarkable and transforming truths of God’s work in us, read through Romans 6, 7, and 8, as well as other Scripture passages that relates to this topic. God has provided us the power and hope of experiencing victory over sin and enjoying a life of His peace in us. Allow Him to work in you today!
Allen can be reached at [email protected]