LIVING BY THE LIFE OF CHRIST
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The ultimate goal of the believer is to live by the life of Christ. We are to look to Jesus for every decision we make throughout the day and night. Then we are to be perfectly obedient in all He shows us to do. Our unrelenting obedience finally expands into a complete blending of His Life and our Life. This is the rest of God.
LIVING BY THE LIFE OF CHRIST
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 loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
It seems to me that there are only two ways in which human beings can live. We can live according to our own wisdom and strength, sometimes prompted by unclean spirits; or we can live in the Spirit of God, being obedient to God. All people who are saved to the new world of righteousness will obey God perfectly. There shall be no sin or disobedience whatever.
The members of the royal priesthood. are holier than the remainder of saved mankind. This does not mean they are better people or more worthy than the rest of the human race. Rather it indicates that God has called them closer to Himself that they might govern the nations of saved people and act as representatives of God to them. The members of the royal priesthood were chosen by the Lord from the beginning of the world to serve God and mankind in this manner.
And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)
As I stated, all inhabitants of the new world of righteousness will have a portion of the Holy Spirit and will be obedient to God. But God’s elect, His family, true Israel, are called to a closer relationship with God.
We are called to live by the Life of Christ, just as the Apostle Paul did, as He said: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
I know all Christians assent to this as the way we should live. But how is such oneness with Christ accomplished?
First, there are the dealings of God. Each saint, each believer, should be aware God is dealing with him or her continually. Perhaps many believers do not realize this, supposing while they are waiting to go to Heaven, Satan is harassing them needlessly.
For example: someone may treat us unjustly. It may be a member of our assembly or an unsaved person. We now have a choice. We can become bitter and vengeful, in which case we will continue in our sinful nature. Or we can go to the Lord until He gives us of His Virtue so we have the strength to forgive. If we choose this response to injustice, a part of our old personality will perish and we will receive the Life of Christ.
We read in the newspaper about what is taking place in the world. We can see the lying, the injustice, the malice, the self-seeking that are causing wars and other forms of destruction. In fact, the newspapers lie so much we don’t know if what we are reading is even the truth.
We can choose to fret about the evil in the world. If we do, our sinful nature will remain intact. If however we go to the Lord until we have peace, a part of our old nature dies and the Life of Christ takes its place.
You know, as I think about it, the evil in the world is caused by the fact that people exercise their own will rather than God’s will. What would the world be like if every person on earth did God’s will rather than his or her own will? We might think the world could never be like this. But God has said it shall be, and to pray that His will be done in the earth. In the new world of righteousness that is coming, every human being will do God’s will. No other will shall be permitted.
All the trouble in the world and in the Christian churches is caused by people pursuing their own will instead of God’s will.
So one aspect of learning to live by the Life of Christ is to respond correctly to the evil in the world, as God guides us and deals with us.
A second aspect has to do with having no other god beside the Lord. A good part of our Christian life consists of God putting our idols under our feet. We Americans have numerous idols, such as money, violence, a talent we have, professional sports, entertainment, romance, our children, our job, our house and location. We have persons, circumstances, and things that we love more than we do God.
Sometimes God has to remove them from us in order to get our eyes back on Him. Or He may show us an idol and leave it to us to pray that God will release us from this bondage.
The reason God insists we worship only Him is that every other recipient of our worship enslaves us. Only the true God brings us to freedom and joy. It is for our own good that the Lord removes our idols from us.
The first commandment is that we have no other gods. The second commandment is that we do not make an image and worship it. Christians often worship their church building. They enter an ornate church building and worship it without realizing it.
We can take anything, whether it is a person, or our bank account, or a talent we have, and make it an idol.
If you think you have an idol, ask God to remove it. If it is not an idol, nothing will happen. If you panic at the thought of God removing it and are afraid, it probably is an idol. God wants to set you free from slavery.
So far we have mentioned two parts of being able to live by the Life of Christ. One part is to respond correctly to God’s dealings with us. The second part is to permit God to remove our idols from us. We cannot possibly live by the Life of Christ while we are worshiping some person, thing, or circumstance.
A third aspect of learning to live by the Life of Christ is that of obeying God sternly and perfectly. I believe many believers have never learned to obey God.
Sometimes it is preached that no one can obey God and do His will perfectly. If a greater lie has come from Satan I do not know of it.
If you remember, in the beginning Satan implied to Eve that God is mean. He didn’t want Adam and Eve to be like Himself, knowing good and evil.
Satan has convinced mankind that God is mean, and that if we do His will we will be unhappy and suffer loss.
Satan has convinced the Christians that no one can do God’s will perfectly; that God has to save us by grace because His will is utterly impossible for anyone to perform. In other words, Satan attempts to keep everyone away from this dreadful person in the heavens.
But the inerrant Word of God states that God’s commandments are not grievous.
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (I John 5:3)
If there is anything God desires we come to understand it is that He never makes unreasonable requests of anyone; and if He does, it is like the case of Abraham and Isaac where God is about to perform some marvelous deed.
God never puts a hurdle in front of us unless He also provides a way of escape that we may be able to bear it.
It is true that God disciplines us, telling us to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. But stop and think! Life is hard in any case. The way of the transgressor is hard. The believers are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Everyone is crucified in one manner or another.
When Satan tells us God is harsh and unreasonable, he is speaking of himself. God is loving and kind, and always leads us to joy.
It always is possible for the believer to do God’s will perfectly. It is expected that the believer will do God’s will perfectly. To not be doing God’s will perfectly is to be in rebellion against God.
I think most believers already are doing God’s will. They just are afraid to go to God to find out how well they are doing. It is stupid to not go to God to find out how well you are doing. What if you are out of God’s will for your life? Do you know not to do God’s will is to bring trouble and pain upon yourself?
God expects you to do His will and will help you do it. Do not be afraid to approach God. He loves you. Satan will keep you afraid of God if you allow him to do so.
Tell God right now that you love Him and will do whatever He says, knowing that He will never command you to do something that He will not make possible. It is a wonderful feeling to know you are right in the center of God’s perfect will. You can have this joy and confidence if you will go to God for a report card.
And if He tells you to change something, do it! Why should you live in guilt before God? It is not necessary, you know. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
I am writing concerning how one learns to live by the Life of Christ.
First I mentioned responding correctly to the dealings of God. Whenever there is a problem, go to the Lord immediately. Receive His peace and assurance. Then you can meet successfully every situation that is hindering your peaceful rest in Christ.
A second important aspect is that of getting rid of your idols. When God is endeavoring to remove something from you, let it go. It will only cause you grief if you cling to it.
Sometimes God wants to take a loved one. You know, an elderly Christian will be in much pain, wanting to go home, and the relatives will cry to God not to take them. Can you see any sense to this? If we know the person will go to be with Jesus and will be free from pain and sickness, why are we insisting that they remain here with us? It seems to be nothing more than self-centered selfishness.
God is good. God loving. God is kind. God knows the details of our life. God desires to bring us to joy and has the power to do so. When we do not obey God implicitly we are harming only ourselves.
First, responding constructively to God’s dealings. Second, being willing for God to remove our idols. Third, obeying God promptly and thoroughly.
A fourth aspect of learning to live by the Life of Christ I should not have to mention because it is so obvious. It is that of obeying the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles–the numerous exhortations found in the New Testament.
Since Christ and His Apostles have told us what to do, you would think we would have sense enough to do what we have been told, and to do it conscientiously and consistently. But no, the theologians have a better idea. We do not have to do what we have been instructed to do because we have been “saved by grace.” What an abomination!
I’ll have to admit it. Our adversary is exceedingly cunning. He knows that it is only by obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles that we can press through to the Life of Christ. Once we press through to the Life of Christ, Satan’s kingdom is in trouble, and he understands this.
Satan must have access to the minds of theologians. How else would intelligent, devout scholars have come to the conclusion, in spite of clear passages to the contrary, that we do not have to obey the commandments of the New Testament in order to be saved?
On top of this, many intelligent teachers and pastors have subscribed to the totally unscriptural doctrine of the pre-tribulation “rapture.” This destructive error has brought confusion into Christian thinking and has prevented the believers from preparing themselves and their families for the age of physical and moral horrors that is approaching the United States
So we have a multitude of believers who are not keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, and who are expecting at any moment, mythical escape from the problems of the world. What a formula for spiritual disaster! What doctrinal chaos we are immersed in!
Notice in the following verse the cause and effect relationship between keeping Christ’s commandments and being filled with the Life of God.
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)
Can you understand from the above why the enemy would develop a doctrine that does away with the necessity for keeping the commandments of Christ?
What happens if we obey the teaching of Christ? The Father and the Son will come to us and make Their home with us.
What happens if we do not obey the teaching of Christ but trust that God is saving us “by grace”? The Father and the Son will not come to us and make Their home with us.
There is no possible way that we can press into the state of being where we are living by the Life of Christ if we do not keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Forget about it! It is not going to happen! We are being fed poisoned food today.
If we are to live by the Life of Christ we must:
- Respond appropriately to the dealings of God.
- Permit the Lord to remove all of our idols.
- Obey God implicitly in every aspect of our life.
- Obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles found in the New Testament.
These four actions bring us into the Life of Christ. He must become our Life. Notice, in the following passage, that it is those whose life Christ is who will appear with Him when He returns.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
Actually, living by the Life of Christ is the product of the four actions mentioned above. But it is more than responding to the dealings of God. It is more than the loss of our idols. It is more than obeying God. It is more than obeying the written commandments. It is the product of these, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
When we have been filled with all the fullness of God, in response to the prayer of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians, our thoughts, our words, and our actions flow from Christ. It really is full spiritual maturity, and I believe it is to this state Paul was pressing. Paul was seeking to attain to the resurrection. When we press into the state of living by the Life of Christ our inward nature has already been resurrected. All that is lacking is the transformation of our body, which will take place when the Lord returns.
Paul stated that it is no longer he who is living but Christ who is living in him. (I like to speak of Paul, and all deceased believers, in the present tense.)
There are passages in the Bible, such as the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, that leave the impression Christ is going to come in the Spirit to His Church prior to His coming to the world in the clouds of glory. Of course, it always has been true that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst.
If I am not mistaken, His Presence is especially strong today. I think He has come to bring us to be with Him where He is. Where He is, is in the center of the Person and will of the Father. I believe He wants us to press into that same place in the Father so we can be with Jesus where He is.
I believe the time is here, or very near, when God is ready to make Christ’s enemies His footstool. If this is the case, we can expect Christ to come to His Church as the Lord strong and mighty in battle. For without doubt, the first enemies that will be put under the feet of Christ are those in His Church.
Also, we of the royal priesthood need to be reconciled to God. We already have been reconciled legally through the blood of the cross. Now we have to be reconciled in actuality.
- We have to be more separate from the world than we are.
- We need to have greater victory over the lusts of our flesh.
- We absolutely must cooperate with the Spirit of God as He burns the self-will and personal ambition out of us.
These three areas of darkness found in most Christians today must be removed from us before we are reconciled to God in actuality.
Speaking to Christians:
“Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 6:17-7:1)
If we will be absolutely faithful to the Lord by pursuing reconciliation in each of these three areas, and take the four actions I have described above, we will be able to find rest in the Presence and will of God.
What I have been writing about is termed “the rest of God.” It is the place of abiding in Christ. The Book of Hebrews urges us to press on past our familiar doctrines and enter the rest of God prepared for us from the beginning of the world.
God is seeking a place of rest, a house in which He can dwell for eternity, and through which He can govern and bless all of His creatures. God has called each member of the royal priesthood from the beginning of the world that he or she might be a home in which God can find rest. In the Father’s great house there are many rooms. Each of us is to be a room in that eternal house.
This is the challenge facing each Christian today. Are we willing to abandon our own life that we might live by the Life of Christ? It is an eternal decision. We cannot set out with the intention of making Christ our Life, and then change our mind and try to go back into our former adamic life. No person having put his or her hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.
God has set an open door before us today. We can choose to abandon our first personality and become a new creation in Christ. Or we can choose to retain our first personality. What the end of choosing to retain our first personality would be, I am not certain.
I do know the only way we can bear the eternal fruit of the Kingdom is by laying down our old life so Christ may live in us.
Or, we can retain our individuality and attempt to do “Christian work” by means of our own wisdom and strength. But all we will bring forth is Babylon–confusion.
The personal cross of the believe is the only path to the Life of Christ. To live by the Life of Christ is infinitely desirable. Our animal life is but a blade of grass that soon withers and dies. The Life of Christ is the greatest of the powers of the universe, for God has given all things to Christ.
The door is open now. Who knows for how long. Once the mighty thrones in the air have been occupied, one of the greatest chapters in all of eternity will have come to an end.
Many who are last in time shall be first in the Kingdom. An honorable place at Christ’s table is available to anyone who cares enough to set everything else aside and press into God.
Who among us will do that? Will you?
(“Living By the Life of Christ”, 4042-1)