SeekersTrove.com—Treasure Beyond Measure

The Christian Walk 2

I have received some criticisms over my original article titled "The Christian Walk", and this article is intended to explain some of the things that seem to have confused some people.

Mostly, what people accuse me of being what they call a legalist. They say, that I said, that we must maintain our relationship with God through our works. This accusation is not true. I do not believe that we, through our own actions, earn salvation, nor do I believe that we maintain our relationship through our actions.

However, there is a saying that I like that goes like this: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Now if you happened upon some deranged chicken that walked like a duck, and made duck-like noises, it would still be a chicken; right? Yes. No matter how badly a chicken wants to be a duck, it will still remain a chicken, and can never be a duck. However, a real duck will certainly walk like a duck and quack like a duck, for that is its nature. Likewise, a person might talk like a true Christian, and walk like a true Christian, but will not for that reason be a true Christian. But, a true Christian will certainly walk like Jesus Christ and talk like Jesus Christ, because that is his, or her, nature. That is what it means to be a "Christ"ian.

Unlike chickens and ducks, a person that is not a Christian can seek God and be transformed. And people cannot be known by their outward appearance alone.

What is it that makes a true Christian, a true Christian? What is the difference between a person that is a Christian, from one that is not? Does the true Christian go to church, and the other not? Is that what Jesus said? that, "You shall know them because they go to Church."? Or did Jesus say that, "You shall know them because they say that they are Christians."?

My friends, there are a lot of chickens in church that are all dressed up like ducks, and quacking up a storm, but that doesn't mean that they are Christians. Zeal alone will not tell you anything. Nor will the consensus of the group tell you anything. I mean, a hundred chickens sitting around telling one another that they are ducks, does not make them ducks. Please hear what I am saying.

So, what did Jesus say concerning identifying true Christians?

Matthew 7:15-20

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (NIV84)

This is an easy passage to misunderstand. This does not mean that a true Christian, (good tree), will not make mistakes. Jesus is talking about fruit that has ripened on the vine, and not the growing fruit buds.

John 15:1-2

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (NIV84)

God cuts off the bad fruit, before it ripens, so that you can produce more good works. A true Christian will bud the bad, but God will discipline, that is, remove the unproductive things from your life, so that only the good things can mature. The "fruit" is that which remains after the trial and testing have run their course.

I once attended a meeting at church concerning a problem that the church was having with a building contractor. The meeting was attended by the pastors, elders, deacons, and leading men of the church. I was surprised by the level of anger and the talk of suing and such. The church was being tested by God, and the true fruit of the people was being revealed.

It is easy to look good when everything is going okay, but when you are put to the test, then what you really are will come to light. The difference between someone that has a relationship with God, and someone that does not, is that God reveals the deficiency to his child, and the child stops and repents, then and there. The person that does not know God blindly goes on their way, and the fruit ripens.

God will always turn up the heat in your life to reveal your deficiencies. He does this because he loves you. He does this so that the fruit will not ripen and kill you.

I have been accused of suggesting that true Christians live holy and perfect lives, and that if you are not leading a perfect life then you are not a Christian. I am sorry if you have misunderstood. I have never said that, nor do I believe that it is true.

1 John 1:8

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (NIV84)

 

James 3:2

We all stumble in many ways. (NIV84)

We stumble so that our sin might be revealed, so that we might repent and move on. True Christians stumble, but God does not let them fall. They stumble and stagger because of sin, but they keep walking the path that leads to God. The unbeliever stumbles and falls, and is seen no more.

This attitude of, "Christians aren't perfect, only forgiven", is a mantra of death. The idea that God does not see your sin is wrong. He sees everything, and he doesn't think that it is okay for you to sin. It is not okay, but it is inevitable. Being inevitable doesn't mean that it's okay.

Just think about it. If you have a child, it is inevitable that they will tell you a lie, but does that make the lie okay? When the lie becomes known, won't you rebuke your child, so that he, or she, know that it is not okay?

Your attitude must be such that you want to mature and be like Jesus Christ in every way. If you just sit back and say, "Well, he is the Son of God, and I am just a person," then you are on the wrong path. You are commanded to become like Jesus Christ in every way.

I went to one church where the pastor told me that a Christian never needs to repent. He told me that a Christian's sins are all covered by the blood of the Lamb, and that God does not see their sin.

Revelation 2:5

Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (NIV84)

The above passage was written to the church! If Jesus told them to repent, then you had better repent of whatever you are doing wrong. By the way, what do you think it means for Jesus to come and remove your lampstand? If you do not repent when the Lord disciplines you, then at some point, he may come and remove the Holy Spirit from within you, and you will be lost in your sin, and you will then stumble and fall. That is what he is saying.

Revelation 3:19

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. (NIV84)

This also was written to the church. "Be earnest, and repent." That pastor was wrong, and he was leading his whole flock down to the Pit. How sad that he would not listen to anything I said.

Like I said before, it is not required by God that a Christian be perfect, however it is required that you strive for perfection. It is your target.

Matthew 5:48

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NIV84)

This is a command from the Lord. It doesn't matter that you never reach perfection. It is a matter of attitude. The Lord told you to aim for perfection, so then do so. When imperfection comes to light, then repent and get back on track. Be perfect.

I do not believe that this is an easy task. The Christian walk is both easy and light, and the most difficult thing that you will ever attempt to do. It is easy because there is nothing difficult that the Lord has asked you to do. It is difficult, because we tend to resist perfect obedience. We like, and want, things in the world. We want people to like us, so we tell little white lies, so as not to upset them. We want people to think highly of us, so we embellish our stories a bit. Or perhaps we want to be a pastor, so we learn the accepted church doctrine, and faithfully pass it on, because we don't want to rock the boat, or maybe we just want to keep our job.

People, I am the one that loves you, because I will tell you the truth even if you hate me for it. If what I have told you strikes some fear in you, don't strike out at me. Consider carefully what frightened you, and take corrective action. The Lord has charged me with the task of setting people back on the right path. I am like a traffic cop. "Stop, don't go that way; go this way." I am here as a helper and not a hurter. Hurt comes when you don't get right with God.

I have been asked by some to write about the struggle associated with the Christian walk, and this paper is addressing those requests. I have listened to the concern of fellow believers that have been struggling with the same old sin for years, and they wonder if they are really Christians at all. There is no pat answer to that. Everyone is different. You must examine yourself.

I would advise that you do not put the Lord to the test. There is a point at which he will leave you to your sin, but if you are struggling, that is a good sign. You must never give up struggling to attain perfection. Please use some common sense in what I am saying. Not all sin is equal. Grumbling at someone that cut you off on the highway is not the same as running their car off the road. Being impatient waiting in line at the bank is not the same as loudly voicing your irritation. Basically, I feel that if what you are doing is only hurting yourself, then the Lord will be much more patient with you than if you are hurting others.

But please understand, little or big, you must resist sin. You must be trying to please God.

Please bear with me while I show you an example of what I am saying.

Say, for whatever reason you see yourself, down in your subconscious mind, as being a little inferior, so you compensate by making little boasts about yourself to others. Each time you tell one of your little white lies, the Lord says to you, "That is a lie," and you mentally apologize to the Lord, and resolve not to do it again, but of course you do. This cycle may go on for years, mostly because you do not have conscious control over your inner heart. You cannot correct the feeling of inadequacy that is the source of all of the little boasts. Now the Lord knows this, and he will correct this problem in time. Provided you do not give up the fight.

As you go through your life struggling with this and that, the Lord is working behind the scene, fixing the root of the problem.

Mark 4:26-29

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain -- first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come. (NIV84)

This is the meaning of this parable. God does the real work while we work at being farmers. As a farmer you have to plant the seeds, and work everyday in the field, (picking weeds and such), and God, who has the power to change your heart, does the real work in ways that you cannot see nor understand.

Now you might wonder why God doesn't just do the work and get it over with, but who are you to question God? It took a long time for you to get those little fears and phobias into your heart, and it takes time to get them out.

The important thing for you to examine is your long term growth. Is your level of Christian maturity the same today, as say a year ago, or five years ago? If you are spiritually alive then there will be positive growth. Living things grow. I went to a local Bible study at a church nearby for about a year. I listened, and over time I came to the conclusion that no one that attended the study really knew anything about the Bible. The point really came home when a woman told me that she had been going to this study for more than thirty years. Those people knew the basic Christian doctrine. They knew about the sacrificial offering of Jesus on the cross, the resurrection, and the need to be baptized and such. But they really didn't know God. Years later I figured it out that they didn't really have a relationship with God. They were people that called themselves Christians, and believed that God loved them, and had covered up their sins, and was going to bring them to heaven.

My friend, if you talk the talk, but do not walk the walk, you have been deceived. Consider that people that have been deceived never know that they have been deceived, that is why they are deceived. Think about it. That is what deceived means. Now, I am the traffic cop, and I am waving my hands saying to you "Stop, and think about all this; don't go through the motions, but aim for perfection. Seek the truth, and obey it. Give everything you have to know God."

Consider too, that the object of Bible study is not to know things about the Bible, but to be transformed into a godlike person, that is, to be morally like Jesus Christ, but still yourself. If you want to win the prize you must want to be changed. You must live the life that God wants you to, so that through life's little episodes you come to understand more and more what God thinks, and why. If you won't conform, then you won't change, and all hope of maturity is lost.

Isaiah 1:25

I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. (NIV84)

It is with personal tragedy and affliction that God turns up the heat, and brings the dross to the top, so that it can be removed. This is painful, yes, but necessary too, and remember that the Lord said that it is because he loves you that he disciplines you.

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV84)

When you face trials of any kind, know that God is revealing things in you that you need to correct. If you do not do the thing that God requires, then what has happened was wasted. Make the most of your trials, by remaining in God's will.

Hebrews 12:4-11

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIV84)

We see again, in this passage, that we must struggle against sin, we should receive our trials as having come from God, and that they are intended for our good, if we endure patiently through them. This assumes, of course, that you are indeed God's child. Not all hardship is discipline from the Lord, some is judgment. But for God's children it is all discipline to make you more godlike.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV84)

It should be clear to you that your walk with God should be a struggle. I can't believe that any of us Christ followers will give up sin without a fight. I just can't believe that anyone can ignore the body's desires so completely that they just come to the Lord and do everything right the first time around. So don't be amazed by life's difficulties, or think that you are not loved by God because of them. Don't listen to people that promise that coming to the Lord will make your life easier. It might, but then again it might not be easier.

Easy or not, the prize is worth any amount of pain. We have been promised a place in heaven, if we do not shrink back. So, like Paul said, we must beat our bodies to make them obey, and we must press on to capture the prize. We must endeavor to live lives that please the Lord. We must strive for perfection, and accept nothing less.

 

This article can be found at SeekersTrove.com