Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

Discipleship Series
by Rayola Kelley

Most people think of Christianity as a belief system. However, this is a grave misconception. Christianity is the way we must live our lives as born-again saints. But, what does it mean to live our lives according to a heavenly calling and example? Since living is something that is a normal thing to do, most rarely think about what it truly means to experience life. The truth is there are various factors that determine how one will live his or her life. We are going to consider them.

Perception: We live our life according to our personal perception. Within this perception one will discover his or her disposition or state. In this state, attitudes are reflected, emphasis realized, agendas preferred, and priorities pursued. Each person possesses an attitude about God. This is why as Christians we are told to have the mind or attitude of Christ to ensure a right inner state. We have an emphasis as to what we will consider to be important. The Apostle Paul clearly established the main emphasis that every saint should possess: to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified. We have our personal agendas that determine our focus and priorities that influence what we pursue. The Bible is clear that our focus must be heavenward on Jesus, and we must pursue the type of life outlined in Scripture.

Desires: Desires are what often drive or motivate us. Most desires are attached to fleshly appetites and worldly attractions. After all, they will influence our preference, as well as the direction and focus of our affections. Ultimately, undisciplined desires can lead to covetousness and obsessions. The Bible encourages us to covet what God has ordained and become consumed with the desire to know Him. These activities point to faith. It is vital that we discern where our true confidence lies.

Light: The topic of faith brings us to the next subject: personal understanding. We either walk according to our personal understanding or according to our faith towards God. The Bible warns us that in our fallen state we prefer to walk according to our own darkness or understanding. Keep in mind that light points to the type of life that is in us. Whether we believe it or not, we walk according to the life that we possess. Such life represents what is natural to us. We are either bent towards our personal preferences or we are lining up to the eternal perspective of Jesus Christ. The Bible reminds us as believers that we are to be children of the light; therefore, we need to walk according to the life of Jesus in us. This requires us to not walk as fools, but circumspectly in a wise fashion, redeeming the time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:8-16).

Environment: Another determining factor is what we expose ourselves to. We are in the world, but as saints we need to separate ourselves from the influence of the world. The world will actually desensitize us to its profane ways. It will condition us to accept its value system and philosophies. The challenge for most Christians is that much of the world is neither good nor bad, but if the matters of the world become a Christian’s emphasis and pursuit, it becomes idolatrous. Once a Christian comes into agreement with the world, he or she will come under the spirit of the world. The spirit of the world simply works disobedience within people towards the matters of God.

This brings us to the quality of life. Depending on the type of life we choose will determine the type of character our life will take on. We know that real life comes from God. Life outside of God is simply a form of existence. In this existence people attempt to find some type of purpose to life. They seek identity in worldly relationships and material stuff. They seek importance according to the world’s various presentations. They work for recognition so they can feel good about themselves. However, such a feeling is temporary. They must therefore, continue to seek for such acknowledgement that will ultimately prove to be useless or empty. This is why Solomon summarized in Ecclesiastes that the activities of life that are pursed in light of the existence of this present world will prove to be vain. After all, worldly pleasures are temporary, for the activities of the world have no eternal value to them, and its ways lead to destruction.

God brings the issue of life to the forefront for the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” Consider how God established that there is a record that He indeed set before the children of Israel concerning the ways of life and death. The quality of our life is associated with blessing, and the broad path of death with curses. God exhorted His people to choose life so they could actually live it. Such a life does not merely exist in this present world; rather it is experiencing the type of life God has ordained for His people.

Unbeknown to us, every day we are making life and death choices. We are either choosing the way of blessings or the way of curses. Again, blessings and curses stipulate the quality of the life we live. Let us consider how the quality of these two diverse environments will manifest themselves.

Let us begin with curses. Curses point to a life of contempt. Instead of appreciating it, one will despise his or her type of existence. It will be a life that will not be esteemed or desired. It will be considered vile and hard. Needless to say, curses point to the ways of death.

God clearly explains the ways of death in Deuteronomy 27:15-68. As you study the concept of curse, you will realize that God is simply withholding His blessings. The reason for God to withhold His blessings is because man has lightly esteemed Him. He has proven to be rebellious and treacherous towards God’s commandments and covenants.

This brings us to the subject of blessings. Blessings imply that which benefits the well-being of a person. Such benefits point to prosperity, happiness, contentment, and pleasure. Therefore, all that is beneficial to man’s well-being comes from God. Acts 17:28 gives us this insight: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

We cannot live, move or have our very being without God. Everything that sustains our physical existence and our inner life comes from God. James 1:17 tells us: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

       Sadly, man thinks that he is the one who acquires worldly possessions to better his life in some way, while failing to recognize that all such blessings come from above. If God was not blessing man’s work, activities or accomplishments, he would have nothing to show for his labor. Since man sees himself as providing those things that prosper his life, he will prove to be a fool in the end, as he fails to bless God in awe, adoration and worship for his many blessings.

Obviously, God blesses, but in what way? There are actually two types of blessings. There are worldly and spiritual blessings. It is important to understand how these blessings work. The first blessing is worldly blessings. God blesses man so he can live. He provided his need and opportunities to function in this world. However, in this arena, blessings are not meant to heap upon self. In fact, when man seeks life in such possessions, he will end tasting the vanity of this world. Jesus put it best when He stated: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

Jesus is saying that our possessions cannot bring us well-being. When God prospers a person in the arena of physical possessions, it is so he or she can turn around and bless others. You see this principle through the Law. The people of Israel were to help the widow, the fatherless and strangers. They were to be liberal in their support of God’s servants and work. God even established that His people would enjoy such fruits of their liberal giving when it came to providing for their different religious celebrations.

The second type of blessings are spiritual (Ephesians 1:3). As you study the different covenants of God, you can see that they were made up of promises. These promises were conditional. In other words, the people had to keep their end of the covenant in order to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises in their lives. What flowed from these promises were God’s blessings. However, the greatest type of blessings that could be obtained were the spiritual blessings. These spiritual blessings proved to be far more reaching than the worldly blessings.

For example God’s covenant with Abraham involved bringing forth an earthly nation. But, the spiritual blessing that flowed from Abraham’s life in God was of far greater significance. It is found in Genesis 15:1: “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield, and thy exceedingly great reward.” The real blessing that flows through God’s many promises is God Himself. Abraham had the great privilege and opportunity of knowing his Creator in an intimate way. Knowing God in such a way means that His people possess the blessing of His incredible life.

Possessing God caused Abraham to acquire a vision that took him beyond the physical realm into the spiritual. This caused him to see that his real hope was not in God fulfilling earthly promises, but in realizing the spiritual blessings that were clearly attached to having a relationship with Him. Hebrews 11:10 gives us this insight about Abraham: “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

God establishes a place of covenant in order to fulfill His promises to His people. His people inherit the promises through faith (Hebrews 6:12).  It is by faith that God’s people fulfill the responsibility of the covenant by walking it out in obedience. Out of such obedience flow the spiritual blessings. For example, God’s people prosper when they are rich in faith (James 2:5). They know contentment by being godly (1 Timothy 6:6-7). They experience lasting happiness when God is truly their God (Psalm 144:15). Lasting pleasures are attached to His presence being in the midst of them. King David summarizes this blessed life in this way: Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is the fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).

       There is such inner satisfaction in gaining and possessing such life in our Lord. King David understood this when he stated: “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15)

It is clear our life must be in God, knowing that it is contrary to the existence we often seek and obtain from this world. The world stands curse in it wicked ways. Regardless of the riches it brings, the temporary happiness it offers, and the useless pleasures it promises, the things of the world will lead to spiritual ruin for those who pursue them. In Galatians 3:13-14 we are told: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

People must choose God’s life to ensure they do not stand outside of His promises. Outside of God is a cursed life that leads to judgment, ruin and destruction. In Christ we meet God at the point of the new covenant secured by Christ in order to inherit His promises and experience heavenly blessings.

What about you? A lot of people are seeking the blessings of this present world, rather than the unseen blessings of heaven. Some are running around claiming to be blessed when they are really outside of God’s promises. The key is that as His people we should desire the unseen blessings of heaven. These are the blessings that make an impact on our lives for eternity.

If you have not chosen life so that you can truly live in the light of His eternal blessings, now is the time to do so. You must come into the place of the new covenant by recognizing your sin has separated you from God, who has provided Jesus Christ as a sacrifice on your behalf. By receiving Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will place yourself in His hands as your owner, and He will deliver you from the old way to experience the new, everlasting way of His life.