Walking in Christ

How does one know if they are walking in Christ or walking in the flesh? Walking in Christ is not based on a long list of religious activity, but rather it’s really a matter of allowing Jesus to live His life through you. It’s a matter of intentionally laying down self-effort Christianity and being led by the Spirit. It is the daily awareness that you are going to allow your words, actions and thoughts to be directed by the Holy Spirit.

This way of life is not, “I’m just going to wake up every morning and see how I feel” kind of living. It is an intentional act of the will whereby you declare that you are going to allow Christ to be manifested in all that you say and do.

There are some indicators along the way that let you know which way you are walking. Here are a few questions to consider that might be an indicator that you may be walking in the flesh.

We may be walking in the flesh if your conversation with others is inconsistent with how you would like to be treated. Do you have a habit of speaking down to someone as if they were beneath your status? If you are person of authority, how do you speak with those who are under your authority? Do they detect the love of Christ in your actions and your manner of speech? How do you treat others who may live “on the other side of the tracks”?

Walking in Christ is being able to display nothing but grace. How we respond to conflict and people who irritate or offend us is an indication of our Christ likeness.

We may be walking in the flesh if there is a lack of personal transparency? I am not referring to wearing your feelings on your shoulder and sharing all your fears and troubles with every person who will listen. I am referring to having the courage to admit you are wrong and also make mistakes. It is a willingness to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” Are you trying to appear more knowledgeable or spiritual than you really are? Do you try harder to hide your weakness, more than you do to be transparent and real?

When people encounter you do they walk away with an opinion that you are humble and approachable, or do they sense you have an emotional wall around you that makes you unapproachable?

I am convinced that the single most important trait that attracts unbelievers to a believer is a transparency that cries out, “I’m approachable, I care for you and you can tell me anything”.

You may be walking in the flesh if you have a judgmental spirit. The world is looking for someone who is real and understands their struggle. Most people know when they are failing at life, and they don’t need someone to remind them of their failure. It’s a refreshing thing for them to encounter someone who understands, cares and loves them just as they are.

I have been around those in the workplace who could quote much of the Bible. They were known as the religious guy or gal. However, their display of knowledge created such a judgmental spirit that they were unapproachable. Their daily walk was inconsistent with their Bible knowledge.

Bottom Line

Walking in Christ treats others like you would like to be treated. It’s displaying love and compassion in your communication, even when you are being disrespected. It’s learning to walk in transparency and humility, helping others understand that they are not alone, you also struggle from time to time. Walking in Christ is developing a listening ear that exudes love and compassion. Those around you care less about how much you know, and more about how much you care.

Walking in Christ is showing the essence of God’s grace in every situation, with everyone we encounter. That’s because every encounter is a God moment. It’s like the British preacher and author Roy Hession would say;

“Every person who crosses us, every person who discourages us is God’s way of breaking us. It creates a deeper channel in us for the life of Christ. The only life that pleases God is His life, never our life. Our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His. We can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared for God to bring our life constantly to death.”

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O  lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NLT)

Light Your World

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” (Ephesians 5:8-9 NLT)

I have to admit, I am a movie buff. I like all sorts of movies but my preferences fall into two categories, true life stories and, believe it or not, animation. Talking animals just crack me up. I guess that is why I laugh every time I read the story of Balaam’s donkey looking back at Balaam and asking him, “What have I done to you that deserves you beating me three times? (Numbers 22 NLT)

However, there is one thing about animation that cannot be duplicated; it’s the light in the eyes. This last weekend I was watching an animated movie with my granddaughter. I said to her, “Look at the eyes of the animated adults. The animators can reproduce everything just like a live person but the light in the eyes. That can only be given by God.”

But this principle of the “light in the eyes” goes even deeper. God gives every living creature life and it is demonstrated by the light of life that is in their eyes. But He goes even further with His children. He gives us a light that is different from the average creature. “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:7)

The light we now have within us is the light of Christ. It is His life in us that draws others to want to know Him. It’s Christ’s life shown through our eyes that the Holy Spirit uses to draw people to Himself. As the Scripture explains, God could use the rocks to cry out or the trees to sing His glory. But God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses to use us to display “the Light” to the world.

It is the love of Christ in us that is displayed through our life and shown through our eyes that makes us different. It is not our religious performance, Bible knowledge or debate skills that will draw someone to Christ. It is the light of Christ shown through our eyes that will cause someone to get a glimpse of God’s character and nature.

How can we make sure that Christ’s life is shown through our life? The light of Christ will be shown as we love Him with all our heart, our mind and our soul. (Matthew 22:37-39) It is a matter of surrender. As we surrender our rights and expectations, our dreams, and our plans to Him, we are changed into His likeness. It’s often called the great exchange. When we exchange our self-centered life for Christ’s life, a change occurs. The focus of our life is no longer “us”, but our new focus is Christ. We become a reflection of His glory.

That reminds me of the words of a beloved old hymn.

“Oh that will be, glory for me
Glory for me, glory for me.
When by His grace we shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.”

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord, who is the Spirit,makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NLT)

Christ is Enough

Learning about your “Identity in Christ” is probably the single greatest discovery of a true follower of Christ. That’s because many believers wander through the Christian life like the children of Israel wandered through the wilderness.

They instinctively know that God has a plan for their life but they just can’t seem to put that puzzle together. Questions like, “What does the normal Christian life look like?” Or, “What am I supposed to do for God?” dominate their thinking.

I think most Christians believe that if they could just discover what God wants them to do, then they would have the key to the Christian life. After all, isn’t that what the Christian life is all about, doing things for God?

The Christian life is not about what we can do for God, but allowing Christ to live His life through us. He is the giver of divine life and we are the receiver of that life. Our journey is not one long test trying to measure up, but it’s all about rest – resting in Christ as enough.

God never meant for us to try to measure up to some imaginary standard of performance. His intention is to place a divine nature within us that becomes our very life. That divine life is Christ’s life. We become one with Him (John 17)

The moment we are saved we take on a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17). We become someone we have never been before. We are a new creation. Our righteousness is not something we obtain by good works, but it is imputed or given to us by God. So we could never do enough good works to earn God’s favor.

Therefore, God does not want us to “figure out what He wants us to do”, but rather He wants us to focus on the person of Christ, and in doing so allow Christ’s life to flow out through us.

God has provided everything we need to serve Him and bear spiritual fruit. (Col. 2) As we rest in Christ, and abide in Him, the will of God will automatically be done in our life. You can do more for God by resting in Him as enough, than you could ever do in a lifetime of striving to measure up to some religious standard.

The normal Christian life is acknowledging that “apart from Him I can do nothing” (John 15:5). It is totally and completely depending on Him to show you what, when and where. You don’t have to “help God out”.

Place your trust in the living Christ within you. Turn every area of your life over to Him and allow Him to lead you every step of the way. Be patient and wait on God. He has not forgotten you, forsaken you, nor is He neglecting you. He is always on time. When God speaks, you will know it, and so will those around you.

This reminds me of a song I that I use to sing as a child. I bet you know the song also.

Since I started for the Kingdom,
Since my life He controls,
Since I gave my heart to Jesus,
The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows.

The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows,
The more that I love Him, more love He bestows.
Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows,
The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows.

The Search for Significance

Why do so many committed followers of Jesus seem to struggle with unrest, fear and anxiety? Is it possible to love Jesus, faithfully serve and fellowship with Him and still struggle with such unrest? Yes, it is not only possible but probable. We must remember that much of the Christian life is spent reprogramming ourselves from our past habits and belief systems. That’s what sanctification does. The Holy Spirit transforms and renews our mind and tears down all those old belief systems that are opposite to who we are in Christ.

After twenty plus years of counseling I have come to the conclusion that many people who are experiencing continual unrest, fear and anxiety do so because there is a missing element in their life that they can’t seem to grasp. The missing element is the sense of significance.

Every person is born with the built-in need for significance. We see this principle at work in the baby in the crib who cries out to be picked up and held, or the young child who scribbles unintelligible drawings on a paper to show his parent. We also see it in the teenager who competes with his siblings for affection and attention of his parents. They are searching for significance.

Men often look to their work for significance and women may look for affection and attention from their husband and children for significance.

God builds in every person the need to feel significant. We have this built-in instinct from God to search for what makes me feel loved, competent and accepted. We all have this need for a sense of belongingness? So the most important question becomes where and how do I get my significance?

There are basically only two answers to this question. The first method of getting significance is from the world’s standard. Our culture often dictates the standard for acceptance and significance. It is usually tied to living in the right neighborhood, wearing the right clothes, driving the most popular car and so on. All these things seem important for our sense of significance. But when these become our basis for significance we are assuming that this will meet our need. But one day we soon realize that we are left with a sense of emptiness, still seeking the elusive significance.

It’s easy to see the potential for disaster when we buy into the culture’s standard for significance. Personal achievement and accomplished goals is a good thing. Living in harmony with our culture is important for successful interaction with society.

However, as a follower of Jesus we have a different standard for significance. Our significance is directly related to our birthright, hence the saying, ” Inherent in who we are, is our ability to perform it.” God wired us to get our significance from our identity in Christ. Our inherent new nature makes us complete. Since we are indwelt by the Spirit of the risen Christ we are loved, accepted, competent, and have true and lasting significance. We have a new nature that makes us significant to God regardless of our achievement, or a lack of achievement.

What my point? God designed and wired us to get all of our significance from Him. Our worth, competency, acceptance and sense of belongingness should all come from Him. If you think about it, it’s a brilliant strategy. If our significance is fully vested in the person of Christ, then whatever comes our way we still have our sense of significance. Our sense of significance is no longer dictated by things and stuff, but by God’s grace and mercy.

That doesn’t mean we no longer experience disappointment or loss, but when these things do happen, we no longer fall into depression and despair. The very person who gives us our worth and significance is unchanging and absolute. Whatever happens in life, when we fail or suffer loss, God still loves us – unconditionally.