Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast - Episode 139 - Are You Really a Christian?
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #139 – Are You Really a Christian?
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to seek, find, and follow Jesus together as we live with purposed eternal perspective.
After hearing the name of this episode, you may wonder if I am being judgmental. I promise I’m not. By choosing the title, “Are You a Christian,” I want you, (and myself), to consider what it takes to be a follower of Christ.
If a stranger observed your life, actions, and reactions, would they be able to discern which you are? What about the words you speak? Or consider the activities you pursue? How do they reflect Jesus?
When your children, whether grown or young watch you day to day, what do they see? What impressions are you making on them? Do you point the way to Christ?
Today we’ll discuss ways life challenges us, allowing us opportunities to rely on self or Christ.
Which do you usually choose?
1. Relationships - We all know how difficult relationships can be. Have you ever loved someone so much, but just couldn’t communicate clearly with them? Human nature is so complex. Sometimes we have wonderful relationships without issues, but then are those people that for some reason, we can only have a surface relationship with. It’s difficult when one is a believer and one is not, but so much more frustrating when both are believers. Because humans, even believers have different backgrounds, communication methods, interests, and emotional triggers, and we are at different maturity points in our walk with Christ, coupled with the truth that we live in a fallen world, communication and relationships can be extremely difficult. It’s a wonder we can communicate at all sometimes. Not only are relationships challenging, but have you ever finished a conversation with someone with the frustrated feeling that they did not clearly hear what you said? Have you had to pray, knowing that God is using this person to refine you? As much as you may love the person, it’s hard to be sure that you will ever have the deeper relationship you desire. What about when you know someone speaks untruths behind your back? You know it to be true, because trusted loved ones have defended and informed you of it. Now, you’ve become hesitant to share much with the person. Maybe each time you try to deepen your relationship, it just gets harder. You might feel like the more you try to form deeper conversations and move closer to them, it just makes everything worse. You might even feel like you can’t share anything other than a superficial relationship. Or have you ever thought a person was one way, then as you entered into a closer relationship with them you saw the truth? They were not who they pretended or tried to make you think they were. Or have you prayed for someone in your family, at work, or a stranger you met, knowing that God is using you to send mighty prayers up to Him for their sake? You may have had a disagreement, He may have laid them on your heart, burdening you to cry out for them. I’ve learned that no one in this life will ever fully satisfy us. Not even those we are very close to. Why? Because we were not meant for this world and there is no substitution for Christ. The lives we have were meant for much more than we experience here. Without each person submitting to Christ and praying and working to establish relationships under His guidance, the world, and people, will never offer us what He can. We must look for ways to offer Jesus what we can while we journey in this life.
2. Politics - In the last few years, people, even believers have been divided over political opinions. Politics seem to be the tipping point that can extinguish friendships. Have you been unfollowed by someone you thought would be a lifelong friend? Maybe a family member can’t see past the fact that you can simply agree to disagree over life issues, but still carry love and respect for each other through the grace of Christ. How we view disagreements, disappointments, and disasters say a lot about the mind and heartset we carry. We can only look to God and humbly ask Him to heal relationships by working through all parties involved, and we must work to be sure our actions and reactions, even when we are hurt, do not sin against God. There is only one way to work toward that goal: ensure that we are intentionally working to follow and honor the Lord each day. Even if you never reconnect with the person you believe wronged you, continue to pray for them. Don’t let bitterness invade your heart. Relying on Christ to ease and heal the pain of broken relationships is the only way to find healing.
3. Religion – Nowadays, if politics haven’t driven your friends away, religion might. In some ways, it seems like we have more Christians in the world than we really do. What do I mean? Many people profess to be a Christian, yet when you delve below surface talk, you learn that your views are vastly different. Many religions identify as “Christian,” yet unless they follow Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, they are not Christian. Jesus warned us that He would cause division. Luke 12:51-53 says, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Of course, life is filled with many more situations that define whether a person is truly living (or attempting to live) a lifestyle that honors Christ. What I mentioned are just a few of the most noticeable, and what so many struggle with. How much joy would we receive if each of us strived to follow Christ in each of these situations? How much would we please our Heavenly Father as we choose to live in His power, then act and react with His grace and priorities leading us?
Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
Our “old self” is defined as what we were before the Holy Spirit abided within us through new life in Christ. Our former existence is no more. When we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the “old self” dies; the new life we receive now divinely appointed through grace. The control our former self held over us is released; the curse of death replaced by eternal life through Jesus. Believers are no longer subject to live under the influence of evil that the old self carried. Yet, knowing the influence and capacity to sin still flows within our human flesh, we must remember and rely on the power of Christ within us.
We cannot trust fleshly responses that guide from hurt, fears, jealousy, and so many more emotions that clash with the Father’s truths.
Romans 6:11 says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
In this verse, Paul urges believers to grasp by faith what God says and has revealed to be true. We must strive to remember and live the truth that through Christ, and the Holy Spirit alive within us, we have power over the sin that threatens to rule our nature.
We carry power to deny sin abiding within us, enabling us to live with fullness of Christ directing us.
Romans 6:17-18 says, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
True believers following Christ have an instinctive and evident desire to study and obey God’s Word.
Having been set free from the death and burden of sin, the Holy Spirit enables believers to escape the binds of unrighteousness and become captive to righteousness.
How does a believer remain true to follow the Holy Spirit within and keep the desire for righteousness? Only through the strength of Christ. Believers must fix our eyes, heart, and mind above and allow the work of Christ to grow and flow within us. A life eternally changed by Christ behaves differently because we believe differently.
The more a believer seeks Jesus, the more a believer craves Him.
The Holy Spirit living within believers fuels us with Christ’s hunger for righteousness and holiness.
Living as a Christian is not defined by:
1. Joining a church
2. Reciting prayers
3. Being baptized
4. Serving others
5. Eating certain foods and abstaining from others
Christians craving Christ:
1. Humbly accept Christ as Lord and Savior and submit to Him
2. Rely on the Holy Spirit within us to eradicate our sinful nature
3. Admit our need for the strength of Jesus and His grace and mercy as we seek Christ moment by moment
4. Shift our mindset and desires to match His
5. Allow His actions to change our reactions
6. Allow the Holy Spirit to continue to guard and cleanse us of sin
7. Carry joy by the power of Christ in us
8. Live with gratitude for the change Christ has made in us
9. Allow Christ to infuse His love for others inside us
10. Carry a biblical worldview that affects our choices and opinions
11. Intentionally become more Christlike daily
John 2:23-25 says, “Now while He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs He was performing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for He knew what was in each person.”
When we believe in His name because we have seen the signs Jesus displayed versus simply trusting that Jesus is who He says He is, we follow Him with an intellectual commitment versus living with a whole-hearted assurance led by faith.
Jesus calls for believers to trust, follow, honor, love, and obey because we cannot comprehend living without Him. The Lord sees our whole heart. Jesus is a discerner of genuine conversion for Him versus excitement and intrigue for what could be called “magnificent events” that prompt our belief.
Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”
I’d like to pose a few questions for each of us to consider:
Are you sure you are a Christian?
If God is a discerner of hearts, what does He see in yours?
What should you change about your beliefs, actions, or reactions that will make your life more pleasing to God?
What are ways to ensure you are living the full life God intends His believers to enjoy?
What can you do to ensure that Christ is clearly shown to those viewing your life?
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Dear Heavenly Father, You are the God of all creation. The heavens and the earth applaud Your name. Great are Your mysteries and the things You reveal to us. Thank you for loving us enough to make a way for us to find eternal life with You. Thank you for Your painful sacrifices so that mankind could be restored to You. Father, we pray that our hearts will be found clean before You. May we live with pureness of heart that seeks to know You more intimately and show You more clearly. May our mind, heart, and mouth exemplify You more and more each day because we choose You over self and world. Help us to desire You more than what this world offers and pledge to make shifts in our lives that bring us nearer to You. Enable us to humbly seek Your worldviews and live in ways that honor what You desire. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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Remember, if we are not purposed in knowing Jesus ourselves and showing Him to the next generation, the world will direct them away from Christ. Live With Eternal Perspective helps us to find, trust, and follow Christ more intimately. Purposed Parent/Connected Child shares biblical, practical truths for parents and grandparents to influence and mentor Christ over culture.
I pray that what you hear on this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on new ways to Live With Eternal Perspective.