The Secret to True Christian Living
When we Christians are convicted in our hearts about living more completely for Christ or forsaking sin, our usual response is to determine that we will try harder. So we exert our will power to be kinder, or more patient, or more devoted to Christ. Or we resolve that no longer will we give in to some particular temptation. We will be what God wants us to be, no matter what!
And what happens? After a while, sometimes quite soon, we fail. We’re right back where we were. After that has happened several times it is so easy to just quit trying and settle down into relative defeat. While we may not be committing gross sin, we do not have a vibrant, powerful Christian life.
The problem is two-fold. One, we do not understand what the Christian life is. Two, we do not know how to experience it.
The Christian life is not the Christian living for Christ. That is impossible. The sooner you realize that you simply cannot live the Christian life, the sooner you will be on your way to understanding it. The Christian life is not the Christian doing anything. The theological foundation for that is Romans chapter seven. That chapter teaches that we are dead to the law. That simply means that by trying to do good you cannot be justified nor become sanctified (holy). If you try to keep the law, even the commandments of the New Testament, you are headed for defeat.
The Christian life is Christ living His life through you. It is not you trying to live as you should.
Galatians 2:20 says it well, and I’m going to paraphrase it: “I have been crucified with Christ (I am dead; see Col. 3:3), but I’m alive. But it isn’t I who live in this body, it is Christ. And this life I now live in this body (Christ living in me, through my body), I live by faith in the Son of God (I trust Him to live through me, to empower me, to reveal Himself to the world through me).”
That is the Christian life. Christ living His life in and through us. Now, how does it come about? We know all this is true. But what do I do to make it happen, so that Christ is the one living in me, and not me?
Meditate on just one verse, 2 Corinthians 3:18, although there are many others which support it. The clearest translation is in the ESB, and it says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
This verse says that as you gaze on the face of Jesus, the glory of Jesus, you are transformed into His image. The Greek word for transformed is the word from which we get the English word metamorphosis. The change that occurs is a profound, life-altering one. We use this word to refer to the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Paul here further states that this transformation increases as we continue to gaze on His glory: “from one degree of glory to another.”
So the answer is clear. If I am to be like Jesus Christ, if He is to live in and through my body, I must look at Him – intensely focus my attention upon Him! I must stop trying to live for Him and begin to fellowship with Him so intimately that the Spirit begins to transform me. We do this by meditating on God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1), by learning to pray like Jesus and Paul prayed, by so letting the Spirit control us that we are “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). My prayer is that you may understand, and that you will begin to seek the Lord with all your heart!