Last week, I started a conversation about Christian life and taking an honest assessment about believing in your mind or believing in your heart the salvation through faith in Christ message. When you are “Christian by name only” or just “identify as a Christian, it is very difficult to consistently demonstrate a godly life. I don’t know about you, but isn’t it hard sometimes to just be brutally honest with yourself about the fruit or evidence of your faith?
Paul of Tarsus expressed his frustration with his “Christian life” in the New Testament book of Romans in chapters 6-8. Let’s take a look at Chapter 7 from the New Living Translation.
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
What Paul is saying here is that you can believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and experience an authentic salvation experience, but then lose sight of living from your heart.
…So I want to love my neighbor who seemingly shows disregard for how people in the community are subject to his loud music with immoral lyrics, but I find myself wanting him to suffer somehow…
…So I want to take better care of my body, but those donuts and fried foods are just too hard to resist…
You can’t experience the overcoming nature of salvation by just going to church and identifying as a Christian. You can never consistently beat temptation by just using will power.
As you learn to know who you really are in Christ, you become more familiar with your new heart.
When you are Christian by name only, you may have an awareness of sin, based on law, but lack the freedom that salvation provides to grow in relationship with God so that sin loses its allurement. You see, true freedom does not put you under the laws of “I can’t or I shouldn’t”, but rather “I can make that choice, but I don’t need too” or “I don’t want to because my relationship with God is more important”.
When you get a minute go back to the last post and scroll down the page that begins with “Now let’s look at the revelatory nature of Romans 8:9-11 (GNT)” and read verses.
So let me conclude with a statement I shared last week: In taking an honest assessment of the results in my life that give evidence of “knowing God” through a heart-felt belief, I see changes in my life. But I also realize that in some areas I am “Christian by name only” because there is no fruit…
Invite Holy Spirit to teach you how to believe in your heart… completely…
Have a great week!