Living It Out
By: Kristen L. McNulty
Reprint rights available on request. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you remember what life was like when you first became a Christian? It probably was a very exciting time for you and in a short amount of time a lot of things changed.
But sometimes as time goes by, something changes in the other direction. It's not overnight. But slowly the drive and excitement can start to wear off and it isn't long before we get caught in this place of complacency. We know the truth, we know what's important, but when push comes to shove, we get so comfortable in our routines that we do nothing more than coast in our Christian walk.
And it's one thing when our desire to serve diminishes, but it's another and much more dangerous thing when our behaviour starts to change.
Where once we embraced the new nature that was given to us when Christ came into our heart, suddenly in our complacency the old sinful self starts to creep in and take over. Because after all, if you feed the spirit and starve the flesh, it will die. But if you feed the flesh and starve the spirit, the flesh grows and it has little mercy in what it devours.
When this happens sooner or later the person in the mirror looks more and more like the person we used to be, instead of the person we should be now. Instead of fighting the good fight of faith, living in the light, we become defeated people, stuck in a cycle of sin, waving our white flag to evil time and time again.
This isn't the way it's supposed to be. Ephesians 5:8-11 instructs us:
"For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light form the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead rebuke and expose them."
We all make mistakes, but as these verses tell us, instead of just going with the flow of darkness, we need to stand up and expose things that are wrong as they surface in our lives. We need to go to God, asking Him to fill our hearts once again with light and we need to send the darkness packing.
The Christian life was never meant to be a double life, with us going from darkness to light back and forth like a tennis ball that's being rallied. That doesn't mean that when you make a mistake that it's the end for you, but it does mean that we all need to be on guard and make sure those mistakes don't turn into a lifestyle.
Like Ephesians 4 commands us, "You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness- righteous, holy and true."
Please don't believe the lie that you are nothing more than a sinner and that you have no power against the darkness- that isn't true. But the choice is yours. If you want to live on the fence, thinking that sin is worth the consequences that it brings, you are going to live defeated and eventually the beliefs you've held so dear are going to change. As Andy Stanley said in his DVD series "Life Rules", "first your behaviour changes, then your beliefs." And we've all seen this happen. The person who slowly starts changing the way they live and act and sooner or later wants nothing to do with God or church- it's a downward spiral that none of us are exempt from.
But if you decide to stop wanting sin and instead want nothing more than God's best for your life, He's going to meet you in that place and help you to make the changes that you need to make to get there. And maybe you're not there yet. Maybe you know what's right and wrong, but you still quite honestly want to sin deep down inside. Well then, start with this simple prayer- "Lord, make me want to not want to sin." Pray that every day and sooner or later your desires are going to start changing and with it your behaviour.
God has given us a new nature and we became a new person when we accepted Him. Embrace that identity and feed your soul with things that will illuminate and strengthen it and you'll be amazed at the kind of life you can lead with the strength of Christ in your life.
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