Life of the Christian
Introduction: When one submits to God's plan of salvation (belief, repentance, confession of Christ's deity, and baptism), one is born anew and is a new creation (Jn. 3: 3-16; 2 Cor. 5: 17). In this new state, "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5: 17). The Christian has a new relationship with his God and his fellow man (Matt. 22: 37, 39). Paul presents the new creature as dead to sin (Rom. 6: 2). He also states, " even so we also should walk in newness of life (vs. 4). The sinner not only participates in his initial salvation, but the saved also is active and obedient. He has crucified the "old man" and has become a "servant of righteousness" (Rom. 6: 6, 18). This new relationship and state began with his primary obedience, which was culminated in his baptism (vs. 4).
I. Seeking first God's kingdom and his righteousness
A. An essential and basic pursuit of the Christian is found in Jesus' words, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness " (Matt. 6: 33).
a. "First" (protos, see addendum) means just that! We are to first give ourselves to the Lord, cleanse first the inside of the cup (heart), and first cast out the beam out of our own eye (2 Cor. 8: 5; Matt. 23: 26; Matt. 7: 5). The Christian must prioritize his life and God must be first, even over father or mother; son or daughter; and even his own life (Matt. 10: 37, 39).
B. The "kingdom of God" (basileian autou) refers to God's reign. There is no place in God's kingdom or church for the disobedient and self-willed (Lk. 9: 23, true discipleship means "continuing in Jesus' word, Jn. 8: 31, 32). The new creature in Christ looks to heaven for his instructions (Phili. 3: 20). The expression "and his righteousness" (kai ten dikaiosunen) means, "whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man the sum total of the requirements of God" (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
II. The Christian is to be sanctified
A. Jesus prayed for his followers' sanctification. Hear him, "Sanctify them though thy word: thy word is truth" (Jn. 17: 17). Sanctification (hagiasmos) suggests separation (holiness) to God for spiritual service. The child of God is to be wholly set apart from the world (I Thes. 5: 23). His body and mind are to be "presented a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God " (Rom. 12: 1, 2).
a. Hence, the Christian is not "a friend of the world" (Jas. 4: 4). He does not love the world and what is in the world, such as: "the lust of the flesh eyes, and the pride of life" (I Jn. 2: 15, 16).
B. When one becomes a Christian (christianos, an adherent of Christ, belonging to Christ), one is a babe (I Pet. 2: 2). The "old man" has been crucified and the putting on of the "new man" is a historic fact, but the new man is constantly being renewed in knowledge (on going process, according to the Greek grammar in Col. 3: 10). The babe in Christ is to partake of the milk of the word (I Pet. 2: 2). However, the babe is commanded to grow (I Pet. 2: 2, 2 Thes. 1: 3, Eph. 4: 15, 2 Pet. 3: 18). In fact, it is a sin to fail to grow (I Cor. 3: 1-3). Steady growth must occur in faith, virtue, diligence, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, and brotherly kindness (2 Pet. 1: 5-7). If this growth does not take place, we become "barren" and "unfruitful" and we shall fall away (2 Pet. 1: 5-11).
III. The Christian obeys God's commandments out of love
A. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments," wrote John, "and his commandments are not grievous" (I Jn. 5: 3). Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" and "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loves me " (Jn. 14: 15, 21, see the converse, vs. 24).
IV. The Christian does not forsake the assembling together and is an active part of a local church
A. He has made sure that he has "joined himself" to a scriptural local church (Acts 9: 26, 2 Jn. 9-11). He diligently and enthusiastically assembles on the Lord's Day to remember Jesus in partaking of the Lord's Supper, prayer, preaching, singing praise to God and admonishing others, and giving into the local treasury (Matt. 26: 26-29; Acts 20: 7; 4: 31; Acts 20: 7; Eph. 5: 19; I Cor. 16: 1, 2).
V. The Christian is careful not to fellowship or partake of sin
A. Paul enjoined, "Be not ye therefore partakers with them" (Eph. 5: 7). Not only must he avoid actual participation, but also he must "rather reprove them" (vs. 11). Guarded fellowship is God's way of preserving his truths and people (2 Jn. 9-11).
VI. The child of God controls his tongue and uses only pure speech
A. James taught, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain" (Jas. 1: 26).
B. He seeks to have speech "always with grace and seasoned with salt" (Col. 4: 6). His speech is such that "ministers grace unto the hearers" (Eph. 4: 29). He uses his speech to teach others the gospel that he has learned (Phili. 2: 16, Rom. 1: 16). He also uses his tongue to instruct the erring child of God (Jas. 5: 19, 20, Gal. 6: 1). His tongue is expressive of good because his mind dwells on good things (Phili. 4: 8).
VII. The new creature's general demeanor is reflective of one who has been with Christ (Acts 4: 13)
A. He (she) does not dress immodestly, laugh at or tell obscene jokes, watch filthy movies, fornicate, or disobey civil law (I Tim. 2: 9; Eph. 5: 4; I Cor. 6: 18; Rom. 13: 1-7). Such a life of uprightness is not a result of mechanical, legalistic service, but springs out of "putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4: 25).
B. God will not arbitrarily leave his children (Heb. 13: 5). The biblical rule is: " The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you" (2 Chroni. 15: 2). God is able to keep the Christian from falling, but we must keep ourselves in God's love (Jude 21, 24). The means of preventing falling from God's grace (Gal. 5: 4) is growth and knowledge (2 Pet. 3: 17, 18).
Conclusion: The message of victory is the Christian is not alone in his efforts; God is with him. After commanding Christians to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling," Paul states "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phili. 2: 12, 13). "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us," says the language of triumph (Rom. 8: 38). Any and all sacrifice and struggle shall be worth it when the "crown of glory that fadeth not away" is received (I Pet. 5: 4, 2 Tim. 2: 12, I Pet. 4: 12-16, Jas. 1: 12).
Addendum: A-1, protos, [Adjective, 4413]the superlative degree of pro, "before," is used (I) "of time or place," (a) as a noun, e.g., Luke 14:18; Rev. 1:17; opposite to "the last," in the neuter plural, Matt. 12:45; Luke 11:26; 2 Pet. 2:20; in the neuter singular, opposite to "the second," Heb. 10:9; in 1 Cor. 15:3, en protois, lit., "in the first (things, or matters)" denotes "first of all " (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).