January 31, 2010

To Live is Christ — means godly priorities

An older Christian man told me that putting Jesus first did not mean throwing every else out of his life. For instance, when he began to love Christ, he didn’t stop loving his wife!

Some things need to go though. Obviously sin is one of them. Jesus died to save me from sin. Hanging on to it and professing faith in a Savior is illogical.

The Bible stresses giving up other things too. In Paul’s testimony about his confidence in Christ, he said that he no longer trusted the things that were once a source of spiritual pride. That is, whatever he thought was important in his life, he realized had no value in his standing before God. 

We are those who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him . . . (having) the righteousness which is from God by faith. (Philippians 3:2–9)
A quick reading and I think that I do not trust anything else but Jesus to save me. That may be true, but I need to watch my attitude about my spiritual life. I need to be careful I don’t start thinking that my obedience makes me look special in the eyes of God (or others) and become puffed up with spiritual pride.

For Paul, his confidence could have been in his rich heritage as a Jew and his zeal for God. For me, it could be the amount of Bible knowledge God has given me, or my obedience to spiritual disciplines, or that I don’t “drink, smoke, or chew, or run around with the people that do.”

While obedience is important, my obedience is never the cause of my salvation; it is the result. Not only that, I cannot boast. It is Christ who changed my life and I’ve seldom been cooperative with the changes. Paul says it well, and I have to read this passage with my name in it . . . 

For I myself was also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various sinful desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating others. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior appeared toward me, He made it clear that it was not by works of righteousness which I do, but according to His mercy He saved me, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on me abundantly through Jesus Christ my Savior, that having been justified by His grace I should become an heir according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3–7, my paraphrase)
How is this practical? For someone prone to spiritual pride, humility is deeply important. Pride ruins everything. I cannot claim or boast that I am humble, but I can stop claiming or boasting about everything else. 

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