Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

Nov 21, 2019

In this episode, Brother Jonathan discusses the two points that constitute the everyday Christian life.

 

How do we live every day?

S3EP26

Remnant Bible Fellowship

 

  1. Introduction
    1. I was asked by a friend to do an episode on the everyday Christian life. How it works and what it looks like.
    2. I spent a couple of days just thinking about the topic and concluded that I believe most, if not all, of the daily Christian life can be covered under two main points. It may seem to be overly-simple, but I honestly believe that the entire Christian life may flow from these:
      1. Love Jesus Christ
      2. Deny yourself
    3. So let’s discuss these broadly and then try to think about them practically.
  2. Love Jesus Christ
    1. “"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him… Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.” (John 14:15, 21, 23-24)
    2. If you have ever learned about Islam you may have heard about the dedication that they have to imitating their prophet Muhammad. If they are raised in Islam, from a child they are memorizing large portions of the Qu’ran in a language that most of them don’t understand (Arabic), they memorize prayers in a language that most of them don’t understand which they recite several times a day, they learn and imitate every aspect of Muhammad’s life and practice from the Qu’ran and the Haddith. They even have laws about how they go to the bathroom—for example they have to enter the bathroom with their left foot because Muhammad said so.
    3. It is their commitment to imitating their prophet’s life and ways that makes me believe that they love him. Whenever I consider my own commitment to Jesus Christ their dedication strongly convicts me. It convicts me because Muslims follow a false prophet, a false god, and they’re doing it in their own strength. Christians, on the other hand, follow the resurrected Son of God who died for them, the true and living God who created the universe and gave His Son for them before they knew Him, and have the indwelling Holy Spirit.
    4. I remember an illustration, I believe it was used by E.M. Bounds, that a man was awakened in the morning by the sound of a baker who was already at work by 5:30. He said that he was convicted because his master (Jesus Christ) deserved greater service than that baker’s master (his employer). So what we’re mainly talking about when we say “love Jesus Christ” is being dedicated to Him, His person, and His teachings. We ought to be followers of Christ. The very act of conversion is giving up on yourself and becoming committed to Jesus.
      1. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1Co 6:19-20)
      2. “"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20)
    5. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we have chosen to give ourselves to His teachings. You see many of us think about salvation in terms of a spiritual transaction of Christ paying for our sins and redeeming us from the penalty for our sins, but we often don’t think of our salvation in terms of discipleship. Even that word “disciple” has a very different meaning today than it did in the days of Jesus. In ancient times among some groups disciples would memorize every word of their master/teacher. It was common knowledge that if you were a “disciple” of a certain teacher you were an accurate and trustworthy source of that teacher’s very words. That is sadly not the norm for the professed disciples of Jesus of Nazareth today. It is much easier to learn what you are supposed to believe (regarding doctrine)—though most don’t even do that—than to truly be focused on imitating Christ’s own dedication to the Father in our personal/private life and time.
    6. Nevertheless, we should speak the words of God, meditate on them, study them, pray about them, and live by them. Yet even if we stop there that’s not enough. We can do all of those things without really loving God. People do it all the time. If we just think about being a Christian as a checklist that we perform—you know, check off the boxes of daily reading and prayer—then we fail at the start. It’s been said before, and it’ll be repeated until it’s not true anymore, we are ready to commit our abstract futures to God’s control but not really our everyday life.
    7. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1Pe 2:21-24)
    8. “"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” (Mat 11:28-29)
    9. Many of us will correctly think of following Jesus Christ’s words, but very few of us think about actually imitating His actual example. Yet that is exactly what Peter just said “leaving you an example for you to follow His steps”. When I say that I do mean that we should pay attention to context. We can’t just go throw over tables just because Jesus did. We must pay attention to context and the intention of the Gospel writers when they record events and actions. Jesus fasted 40 days but that doesn’t mean that God wants you to.
    10. The very essence of God saving you is that you died to your old life. If you want to be a follower of Jesus Christ, if you want the blood of Christ to cleanse you of your past sins and the Spirit of God to come into your life and change you from the inside out then you have to give up on yourself, your life, your desires, your dreams, your hopes, all of it. I’m not saying that God is going to make you miserable or send you to the Siberian wilderness to live in a hut, but what I’m saying is that if He mentioned it your response is “Yes Lord.”
    11. This segues very nicely to the next point.
  • Deny Yourself
    1. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2Co 5:14-15)
    2. “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Rom 6:11-13)
    3. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:1-2)
    4. It’s very easy when you first become a Christian, at least if you were truly converted, to just dive-in to following Jesus. In my circle we kind of refer to it as the “honeymoon with Jesus” phase. What happens over time though is that we slowly become distracted with other stuff. This is especially true as you approach middle-age. Young people in their teens and early twenties have no real fixed life usually so they are pretty free, but as you get older and get married, have children, buy a house, worry about different kinds of insurance, etc., you begin to have your eyes and attention continually focused on guiding your life. Therein lies the problem. You’re getting established in this world and your slowly losing sight of the fact that you can’t keep anything in this world.
    5. I’m not saying that working to do better in your career is bad, or that loving and enjoying family and friends is bad, or even that wanting a nicer house is bad. I’m only pointing out the distraction that comes sometimes when we slowly begin to focus again on what we want in this world as opposed to what Jesus wants. The two will sometimes overlap for sure, but sometimes He wants us to do the harder thing, or the weirder thing. Being a missionary is contrary to the American dream of a suburban middle-class life. Dick Brogden has some very good messages about this with the Live Dead ministry. I don’t know enough about them to endorse them but he has very good things to say nonetheless.
    6. If we want to know Jesus intimately, if we want to be children of God, or if we just want the Christian life to “work” we have to deny ourselves. I’m not just talking about not sinning either. That’s the easy way to think of self-denial. That’s the lowest bar that we have: don’t sin. Yes that is self-denial because your flesh wants to do ungodly things, but our lives are supposed to be more than that. If you are not lying, lusting, committing sexual immorality, or idolatry, yet you still are guiding your own life by your will you are still sinning. We are to be living sacrifices for Jesus Christ. Our will is to do His will. We are supposed to be poured out for His cause, for His name, according to His desire, in His own way and time. Not everyone will be missionaries to foreign fields, but every believer is supposed to follow Jesus, deny themselves, and serve others.
    7. Here recently, in my life, the Lord has really been pressing the importance of this upon me. We don’t stretch ourselves too much here in America especially. We’re almost constantly getting what we want and not being out of our comfort zone. So the need for us to exercise self-imposed discipline and denial of self is very high. We can talk about the practical side of “how to” in a few minutes, but let me just remind you of a couple of things that Christ said for us:
      1. “"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. "He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Mat 10:38-39)
    8. Your life in this world is not the thing that you should be focused on building up. And I want to make clear that we’re supposed to use wisdom in this world. If we have jobs, homes, families, etc., we are accountable to God for how we take care of them. That is our stewardship and it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. If you are a father then you ought to labor in the sight of God to be the best, godliest, father that you can be. If you are an employee/employer, then you ought to strive to be the best that you can be—and I’m not talking about profitability. I’m talking about honesty, integrity, hard work, and those kinds of things.
    9. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Col 3:23-24)
    10. Everything in your life is service to God. Yes, some are called to full-time ministry. That is what the Lord has put them into. But all of us are servants and only some of us realize it. I’d warn you to really think about what Christ said to His disciples:
    11. “"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. "To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. "In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. "But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. "Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. "The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' "Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 'And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' "But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 25:14-30)
    12. Everything that you have is because God has either directly given it to you or because God has allowed you to have it. We are tempted sometimes to think of only those in full-time ministry as truly called to serve, but that’s just not true. As a father, I need to go out of my way to be there for my children. I need to provide for them, love them, instruct them, and play with them. Some people just want to discipline their kids and wonder why they don’t have a good relationship with them or why they won’t listen to them. As a husband, I need to be a godly, loving, protecting, providing husband for my wife. I have a direct commandment to love her in the same way that Christ loved the church. He gave Himself for His bride. God Himself came from heaven, lowered Himself to be a man, a poor man nonetheless, to be mocked, spit on, beat, and crucified for His bride. That is the kind of love and devotion I’m told to have for my wife as a husband. As an employee, I’m told to do my job as if I’m directly serving God Himself. I’m supposed to do it without complaining. I shouldn’t try to cut corners. I’m supposed to have integrity. In every area of my life I have to realize that it’s not my life.
    13. We want to please ourselves. That’s the plain fact of the matter. We want to choose things for ourselves. We want to protect our pride. We want to protect our reputation. Apologetics is another way of building pride in the Christian life. We want to be able to never have to look like a fool for Christ. I love apologetics, but I must recognize that I will never be so “smart” or knowledgeable as to make Christianity look intelligent to an unregenerate lost person. I must embrace the call to be a fool in the world’s sight. I have to embrace God’s call to serving others and thinking of them as more important than myself. If someone needs something, and I can do it or provide it without compromising another area of my service to God, then I should try. It’s not easy. It’s hard. That’s the point. It’s impossible for a man who does not truly embrace the gospel and the hope of the world to come and the Kingdom of God to do it. But if we embrace our hope in Christ, and in eternity, then these things are just seen for what they are: preparation for the age to come. We’re serving the one who we have to face in judgment for our service. I always liked what the writer of Hebrews said about Abraham:
      1. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb 11:8-10)
    14. So let’s move on to some practical application.
  1. Practical Application
    1. How do we begin to apply this type of devotion to Christ? You must see it as your duty to do these things.
      1. “"So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"” (Luk 17:10)
    2. We don’t devote ourselves so that we may be saved: we are devoted to Him because we are saved. I don’t believe the doctrine of eternal security. It is a false teaching. But sometimes the pendulum swings so hard it hits the opposite extreme and becomes eternal insecurity. That’s equally unbiblical. Believe in Him, follow Him, and have confidence in His ability and promise to be your Savior.
    3. I must address something quickly though: legalism. Legalism is what happens when insecurity is mixed with pride and selfishness. Sometimes people will be more prideful than insecure, but it is usually a mix of these things. It is when we ourselves become the enforcers of God’s rule. That is highly unbiblical and dangerous. When this is the case you will find a life that is very self-indulgent, someone who cannot or will not deny themselves. That is because they are living for themselves. Legalists would say, “No that’s not true because everything I do I do for Jesus!” No, everything a legalist does they do for themselves in the name of Jesus. People so afraid of being cast into Hell because they honestly don’t believe God’s promise of forgiveness and grace that they bring everyone around them under their thumb and make everyone miserable. I know because I’ve seen it in people. I’ve been tempted toward that extreme at certain times in my own life. Also, my wife went through it horribly when she was a teenager. So she can spot it a mile away. These people will continually be spinning their wheels and getting no traction in their spiritual lives. All the Christian life flows from loving and believing Jesus Christ. He is the Savior. We don’t cling to Him so that He may save us we cling to Him because He saves us.
    4. Next, I would encourage you to truly spend time thinking and meditating on the cross of Christ. Pay attention to what the scriptures say about Christ and what He did. Memorize the verses and think about them throughout your day. Spend more time thanking God for His wisdom and grace in salvation. And assert those promises in your mind when you are tempted. As long as you are not practicing sin claim those promises. You must exercise faith in the promises.
    5. Begin to see prayer, praise, and thanksgiving to God as your duty. I don’t mean in a sense like “well I better get this done”. I mean that because you understand and constantly remind yourself what Christ did for you that you say to yourself “I must praise Him and thank Him because He is worthy and the least that I can do is spend time in prayer”. I don’t care how you feel. Believe the Word and apply you heart to it. You will see your life gradually change as you intentionally begin doing that.
    6. You are a disciple of Jesus. It is your business to be about His business. In everything you are to be a witness to Christ. I’m not talking about the gospel now either. In all that you do you are to be a witness for Him. Strive for excellence. It is difficult when you know that in the sight of the world you are justified to slack off like others but you serve a higher master.
    7. Here’s the dreaded word: discipline. I’m not meaning put your kids in military formation before bedtime and force them to memorize things they don’t even understand. I mean you discipline yourself. If you sleep more than you need (don’t make excuses) then discipline yourself to go to bed at a consistent time and wake up at a consistent time. If you eat more than you need, begin to ask God to teach you to eat less. If you only eat fast food, then you need to learn discipline. I say that as someone who loves fast food. It’s something that I am even now striving about. And when I say these things I’m not meaning for you to lay down a law. True liberty is seen when it is flexible as need dictates. Sometimes things are gonna happen that require you to be up later in the night or rearrange things. God understands as long as you don’t make an excuse to indulge yourself more than is good. Some days you may need to catch up on sleep. So pray about this aspect of your life and just open yourself to God’s direction and conviction, and don’t force a law on others.
    8. Learn to take care of others. As a husband, my wife is about 81/2 months pregnant right now. If she needs me to do something, or if I just see that it’s difficult for her to do it I need to stop what I’m doing and help her. If I haven’t spent much time with my children today, and I know that I haven’t gotten much sleep, then I need to try to make sure that I spend time with them. Sometimes it’s just a five-minute story that I read to them, but they need to know that I care and want to spend time with them. If someone at work needs help, or I see something CAN be done and it’s in the power of my hands to do it then I should do it. My life is to care for those around me more than myself. If by denying myself something that I want I can be in some way helpful to others then I should see if I can. Now, it’s okay to enjoy something for yourself occasionally. It’s okay to celebrate sometimes. If we only give of ourselves and never allow others to do the same for us when they want to then we deny others the ability to bless others.
      1. And I’ve failed at all of these points before. I’m not talking down to you as though I am above you. I need to be poked and goaded about self-denial regularly.
    9. One thing I want to emphasize as something that I believe all Christians should begin disciplining themselves about is fasting. Not just to lose weight, not because intermittent fasting is really big right now in the fitness and diet world, because historically this has been a significant part of the Christian life. Jesus told His disciples “when you fast” do this and this. We usually interpret that “if you fast” instead of “when”. Fasting is a way that we regularly practice denying ourselves and the flesh. It should always be coupled with prayer. Throughout your day and in a specific time by yourself. And you don’t need to have some grave concern on your mind to fast. I used to think that when I was a new believer. Do it just to draw closer to God. To discipline yourself. In Isaiah 58 the Lord said that he desires to break every yoke. Are you in bondage to something? Begin to fast once or twice a week while praying regularly about it. You will see a difference. God is intreated of those who truly want to draw closer to Him and seek His face.
  2. Closing
    1. I wish I could be more practical but I don’t want to just lay down a checklist for someone to blindly follow. If you really begin to pray about loving Christ more and denying yourself more, and ask God to teach you to, He will if you let Him. Leonard Ravenhill had a very good saying: Others can, you cannot. The world is living for itself. One of the things that Paul said was that the world would be full of people who are lovers of their own selves, lovers of pleasure more than God. I don’t want to be guilty of only seeking to feed my own fleshly appetite of comfort, self-interest, or entertainment even. I’m supposed to be a soldier who disciplines himself. All of it being because of my devotion to my captain. Jesus is said to be the captain of our salvation. What I want you to think about is if you would honestly describe your commitment to Him in your private life, with the stewardship of the money that He allows you to have, in the relationships that you have, etc., as being one of true commitment to pleasing Him in all things. Intentionally commit yourself to Him in every area, deny yourself, and your Christian life will begin to “work”.