Many people are somewhat confused concerning the Christian Life. And there are so many believers in Christ Jesus who are struggling and frustrated because the understanding of what it means to live a successful and victorious Christian life evades them. I believe that it is very possible to live for God and to enjoy the sweetness of His Presence, once we comprehend the principles which govern successful Christian living. First of all, permit me to go on record and state that I am a Christian, a believer in Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I am not ashamed of Him and of my relationship with Him. He changed my life when I was thirteen years old and now at the age of forty-three, I love Him more now than I did back then, because He is so, so wonderful. If your Christian life is dull and boring, then maybe the principles I share concerning living victoriously in Christ Jesus will prove to be just what you needed to hear. Read on.
I would like to give you ten things to understand which will enable you to live closer to Christ and enjoy being a Christian. After all, Jesus said that He came that we may have and enjoy life. (John 10:10, Amplified Bible). These ten spiritual principles are true and based upon the Knowledge of God's Word. I have also proven them through my own experiences through the years. They are universal, meaning they apply to all of us as believers in Jesus Christ. And if you will be a doer of God's Word, and not just an inactive hearer, these gems of Truth will change your life. Here they are:
1. Make sure that you are saved, not just religious.
This is the starting place of a successful Christian life. You must know that you are saved. To be saved is to be born again, born from above, made a Christian, redeemed, and made a child of Almighty God. All of these terms mean the same thing. Now, how can we be sure that we are saved? In order to become a Christian, we must believe that, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 King James Bible) We must believe that Jesus Christ the Son of God came to the earth in the flesh, through the womb of a virgin as a baby, grew up and went to the cross as the spotless Son of God, to die for our sins which we had committed before Almighty God. We must believe that He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisment of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 King James Bible) We must believe that God raised Jesus Christ, His Son from the dead, and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
If you have therefore received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, asking Him to come into your heart, then you are saved, born again, a Christian. The Scripture which confirms this is 1 John 5:13, that states, "These things have I written unto you which believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
So if you gave Christ your life, you are saved. If you have not yet given Jesus Christ your life, then ask Him in right now. Just say, Jesus Christ, Son of God. I believe You died for me and shed Your precious blood to wash away my sins. I believe God raised You from the dead and right now I receive You as my Lord and personal Savior. I give You my life. Now help me to live for You. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
2. Understand that the new birth, or becoming a Christian is not a physical experience, nor a mental experience, but a spiritual experience.
This is where I became confused early in my walk with the Lord Jesus and where I believe many people are still somewhat puzzled. I went to a church where they sing a song which said, "I looked at my hands and they looked new, I looked at my feet and they were too. It was portrayed as if the new birth was a physical thing. So when I gave my life to Christ I was expecting to have this 'feeling', this super-duper, out of the world feeling, by which I would know that I was really saved. I did not have that kind of feeling. As a matter of fact, I did not feel saved. I felt confused. I spent an entire year or more wondering if I was really a Christian, because I did not understand that the new birth is not a physical thing and it is not based upon physical feelings. Our feelings are like the wave of the sea, in and out, up and down. Never, ever judge your relationship with Christ based upon how you feel at any given moment. Your walk with God is to be lived by the BIBLE, the Written Word of God, which is stable, concrete and sure. The Word of God is dependable, not our feelings. So look to the Word. If the BIBLE says, if I receive Jesus as Lord, I would be saved, and I received Him as Lord, then I am saved. It does not matter how I feel.
3. Understand the three-fold make-up of man.
According to the BIBLE, we are not just flesh and blood. And we are not just body and soul. We are spirit, soul and body. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 tells us, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
So we are spirit, soul and body. Now, where the confusion for many Christians comes in is a lack of understanding as to which part of us got saved. When we gave our lives to Jesus, it was not our bodies which got saved. Our bodies have not been changed as yet. Thank God, one day, when Jesus comes again, we shall receive a new body, a beautiful, glorious, saved, immortal body, just like Jesus own, when He arose from the dead. But, that is to come. It was not our souls which got saved either. I know that this is a bold statement, but please hear me out. Jesus said being born again is a spiritual experience. He said, "That which is born of the spirit, is spirit." (John 3:1-6) So, when we give our lives to Christ, the part of us which gets saved is our spirits. We receive a new spirit. Our souls however are saved, as our minds are renewed to God's Word. This point will be discussed more in our next point.
4. Our Minds Must Be Renewed.
When we give our lives to Christ, our spirits become a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We become a child of God in our spirits, our inward man. But nothing happens to our souls (minds) or bodies. Now that we are children of God, we must participate in the salvation of our minds, our soulish area, through a process called the renewing of our minds. You may read more about this in Romans 12:2 and James 1:21. In other words, we must now change our thinking from negative, ungodly and unwholesome thoughts to thinking based upon God's Holy Word, the BIBLE. Our souls include our minds, wills, emotions, and imaginations. We must daily, feed upon God's Word and bring our thinking, reasoning and imaginations in line with the BIBLE, rather than what we formerly thought, or what ungodly people try to tell us. The BIBLE is the standard by which we are called to live as Christians.
5. What About the Body?
This issue in itself can fill this entire article. The body, also called the flesh in Scripture, is what gives us most of the problems we encounter in our walk with Christ. The enemy of man's souls came at man from the Garden of Eden through this avenue of the flesh and the mind, and he has not changed his mode of operation. Our bodies are not saved as yet, and if they have been exposed to or experienced in evil, much of the time, they will want to continue pursuing that way, even though we make the decision to live for Christ. Our flesh will want things which oppose the Will of God until it is subdued and made to obey God. The Apostle Paul himself, who was a great apostle of the Lord Jesus, had seen Jesus on numerous occasions, has been caught up to the third Heaven and heard things which were unlawful to utter, said that he had to keep his body under, and bring it into subjection to God's Will. (1 Corinthians 9:23)
My friends, if Paul had to keep his body under subjection and make it obey God, so do you and I. And you will never develop spiritually in Christ Jesus if you do not learn how to submit the members of your body to God as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1)
6.Understand that the BIBLE is SPIRITUAL FOOD.
The Psalmist David wrote: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word. Oh let me not wander from Thy Commandments. Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." (Psalms 119: 9-11) God's Word is the spiritual food of the Christian. Just as our bodies need physical food to live and be strong, and as our minds need knowledge and information in order to develop mentally, our spirits need the BIBLE, God's Holy Written Word in order to grow and develop spiritually. His Word is spirit and life. (John 6:63) Jesus said that, "Man shall not live by bread (physical food) alone, but by every Word which proceeds out of the Mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) If you think that you will become a strong Christian without daily feeding upon God's Word, then you are mistaken. You will only become spiritual by reading the Spiritual food of the Word of God, the BIBLE and doing what it says.
7. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.
Learn to develop the habit of prayer. Just as the Word of God, the BIBLE, is God Almighty speaking to us and revealing His plan and purpose to us, even so, prayer is how we communicate with God. Through prayer we invite God into our affairs and seek His wisdom, guidance, protection, strength and help. Prayer is humbling ourselves before the Father God, realizing that we cannot live successfully without Him. Really, no one can be a true success without having God in their lives. If your success is only limited to this life alone, with no real hope in the next, then your success is not real success. Here is one of my favorite Scriptures on Prayer; (Proverbs 3: 5-6) "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."
8. If you fail as a Christian, don't give up.
All of us, at some point or another, fall short of the mark while we are on this Christian journey. I am the first to raise my hand and say that I am not perfect. I am growing into spiritual perfection, which will not be complete until Christ comes again. So, if you miss the mark and fall into sin, do not give up. Do not allow the enemy to tell you, "See, you have sinned. You cannot be saved. You might as well backslide." Note the lie of the adversary. Why backslide if you were never saved? You are saved. You just missed it. We all have at some point or another and most likely will again. I am not condoning sin, or the practice thereof. What I am saying is that none of us are perfect. We have missed it and we will miss it, because we are still growing. If you do miss it, ask God to forgive you, wash you and cleanse you from that sin and wrong doing, and then quit the sin with His help. He promises in His Word, "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) So ask Him to forgive you. Wipe your tears, get up and move on in Christ with the bold determination that you are in this to stay.
9. Stay in Christian Fellowship.
We all need each other. And to grow and develop spiritually we need to fellowship with the people of God and hear the Word of God taught and preached through His anointed servants and hand-maidens. You need a pastor. So find a good church, where the Word of God is proclaimed and join up. Stay in fellowship with the saints and learn all you can. By the way, make sure that the church proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord and adheres to the principles of the BIBLE. Ephesians 4: 11-12, Hebrews 10:25)
10. Do the Bible.
Remember always that we must be doers of God's Word, and not just hearers, if we are going to grow, develop and progress in the things of God. So, when you read His Word and see how the BIBLE says we should conduct the affairs of our lives, make it your aim, with His help to do what you read. Doing the Word produces the fruit of the Spirit in your life. (James 1:22)
Finally, practice being consistent in your walk with God. Read His Word daily. Pray daily. Go to church regularly. Share your faith and hope constantly. And may our Lord, when He comes, find you right in the center of His Will.