The Christian life can be defined as genuine faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. An individual who has come to understand the basic facts of the Gospel and has repented of self salvation while placing their faith in Jesus as Savior – trusting their future destiny to Him alone – is said to be a Christian.
Forgiveness of sins is the fundamental benefit of salvation. Forgiveness is offered to men by God; Whom in His great mercy has graciously given His pardon to undeserving sinners. He does this as a result of His redemptive work through Jesus Christ.
Those who have received forgiveness of sins are “Christians”.
Many people see being a Christian in terms of “living a moral life”, or “going to church”, etc. However, as much as these things are good – and right, the foremost attribute of being “Born Again” by faith in Christ alone, is first of all – love. Love is the primary manifestation of God’s work in the life of a believer. It is the person and presence of God manifested in every born again Christian and most visible in those who are surrendered to the power of God from within.
The Bible tells us,
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
Further in the chapter we read,
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
The last verse of the same chapter reads,
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
This alone should document the presence of love as the high water mark of being a believer.
Contained in the list of love’s attributes are kindness, unselfishness, longsuffering, and a disposition that thinks the best of others while rejoicing in the truth. Those who live a moral life, go to church, etc. and don’t walk in love are far from demonstrating the true fruit of a Christian life.
The second characteristic in the life of a believer is forgiveness.
As believers in Jesus, we are a people who have received forgiveness of sins: the pardon we need from God. As such, our first human response is a willingness to exercise forgiveness for others. As is true with love, we are made capable of forgiveness by the power of God from within.
Emotionally a believer may struggle with forgiveness, but as we surrender to the known will of God, we will make the intellectual choice to forgive. God then makes that forgiveness a reality in the heart of the Christian.
In the Bible we read,
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
We also read,
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV)
As love is the foremost attribute of the Christian life, forgiveness is the first of the fundamental characteristics of love.
Over the years I have seen many Christians, live “moral lives”, go to church, etc. but walk in unforgiveness. In this they fail to demonstrate the love of God. This should never be! It does not suggest they are unsaved, but simply demonstrates a lack of surrender. Furthermore, a continuation down this pathway begins the process of demise in the fruitfulness of the believer; ending in joyless living, lack of peace, and hopelessness. Additionally, the lack of love and judgmental attitudes of many Christians has been, and continues to be, the assisted demise of those who don’t know the Lord.
When a Christian lives a “moral life” and goes to church, etc. and fails to walk in love and/or demonstrate forgiveness, they become selfish, arrogant, and judgmental of others – in and outside the Church. This attitude breeds skepticism, unbelief, cynicism and ultimately finds its birth mother: hate. Hate opposes love and is the offspring of lust. Love is kind, unselfish, longsuffering, and thinks the best of others – love is others centered. Lust is selfish, arrogant, and unsatisfied. Its lack of satisfaction tears away at peace resulting in hopelessness and despair! This is hope deferred.
In the Bible we read,
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Proverbs 13:12
As is true with kindness, unselfishness, longsuffering, and a disposition that thinks the best of others, “hope” is found among the attributes of love. Therefore, where there is no love there is no hope. When hope is deferred the heart becomes sick and the believer becomes diseased.
I have seen, and continue to see, believers who have lost hope. For some it manifests in an immoral life – an attempt to find satisfaction through lust. For others there is an abandonment of “church” – an attempt to find peace through selfish ambition, self-protection, and pride. The skepticism, cynicism and judgmentalism finds its birth mother: hate; and the incestuous relationship between mother and child brings forth multifaceted dysfunction in life.
Do you feel hopeless? Are you trying to fill the void in your life with self-soothing activities? As a believer are you sexually promiscuous – sleeping around? Are you escaping into pornography, abusing drugs or alcohol? Are you bitter and/or angry with someone – anyone? Have you either failed to forgive or to recognize that your lack of forgiveness has in some way become a plague to you? Are you in so much pain that you are trying to escape into whatever self-soothing medication you can find? Do you feel like many of the “good” or “moral” church goers are critical of you and therefore you recluse to places where church goers won’t go? Are you mad at the church or mad at the Lord? If so, there is an answer!
Some will say that anyone who professes to believe in Jesus and is “living in sin” cannot really be saved. However, this may not be the case. There are some people who claim to be Christians, but have not been genuinely born again. On the other hand, there are genuine believers who are living in sin and simply need to make a change. A believer who is living in sin knows it. For them, there is a loss of peace, a loss of joy, a loss of hope! However, the good news is, hope is still present, peace is still available, joy is still obtainable!
Go before the Lord and ask Him to renew you, revive you, and empower you to live anew! Ask the Lord to renew you in His love. Ask the Lord to give you the grace to forgive if needed – just as He has forgiven you! Talk to someone who loves the Lord and go there together. Do what you must and make the change you need!
Live again! Live now! You are a believer in Jesus! Let His love overcome you, heal you, guide you. Why wait until you die to live? Live now! Live again!
I love you all,