To read part 1 of this post, click here!
While we must be aware that our actions have consequences, is living a good life just to avoid bad consequences and gain good ones really the way God intended the Christian life to be lived? Does Christ really want us to compel people to come to Him on the basis of avoiding the eternal negative consequence and gaining the eternal positive?
Consider the story of the Exodus. Pharaoh refused to let the people of Israel go time after time after time. Finally, after the hail, Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron in urgently. Now that he was really feeling the consequences, he made a desperate and emotional plea (Exodus 9:27-28). For just a moment, Pharaoh seems to be truly repentant. This hardened heathen king seems to finally have gotten the point and decided to yield to God. But you know the rest of the story… “And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart…” (Exodus 9:34).
But wait a minute, before you’re too hasty to judge Pharaoh, consider the story of your life now. How many times do we do exactly what Pharaoh did? We live for ourselves, God brings chastening against us, and we try to rationalize our way out of the consequences. Eventually when the heat gets too much for us, we run to God and cry out for mercy and help.
Our actions reveal our heart in the matter. All we’ve done is live focused on consequences. Our weak flesh will always find a way to rationalize its way around consequences and will tempt us with unbiblical solutions to the problems that God brings our way. If we’re living focused primarily on the repercussions, we’ve missed the boat.
Truth, then, is the to be the basis for our life – not consequences. The truth about who we are, Who God is, and what our relationship with Him is.
1. The truth about who we are. As Romans 6 tells us, we share in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. We are dead to the world and everything it has to offer. We are dead to the demands of our flesh and the wiles of the devil. We are free, free, free from this world of sin! We are raised to new life, given a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the Holy Spirit of God takes up permanent residence in us (1 Corinthians 6:19). We can live every single day in a way that pleases God.
2. The truth about who God is. God is so many things to the believer. He is our Creator, Redeemer, Refuge, Father, Savior, Master, Friend, Comfort, Anchor, Hope, Peace, Truth, Life, Light, Substance, etc., etc. But we must remember that He is our authority. As a Father, He gave us life, and He protects us; but we must obey and love Him and seek to do things that please Him. As Creator, He made us. He does not need us. We are dependent on Him, and need turn continuously to Him for refueling and repair, just as a car needs a mechanic. As Master He gives us commands, and we must obey.
3. The truth about our relationship with Him. The Christian life is not a list of do’s and don’t’s. It isn’t something you work up within yourself. It isn’t the power of positive thinking as the world knows it. It is not complicated or difficult. God designed it to be as simple and easy as salvation. The fruitful and abundant Christian life that all of us crave is simply an outpouring of our relationship with Him.The word “abound” means to overflow. If you fill up a glass of water to the brim and keep filling it up, the water will naturally flow over the sides. The glass is now abounding with water. That’s the Christian life. Get so filled up with God that He just naturally flows out of your life. But as with any relationship, communication is the central key. You need to talk to God (it’s called prayer!), and you need to let God talk to you through His Word. You can have a practical, personal walk with God if you just keep the lines of communication open.
Galatians 2:20 sums up the Christian life pretty well: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Truth. Without it, we have no basis on which to discern anything. The truth is that Christ died to have a relationship with you, not just to send you to heaven. What are you doing with His priceless gift?