by Roland W. Keith
When we became a Christian (or when we were studying with someone prior to our decision to come to Christ), it is likely we all had someone explain to us what it meant to repent. Spiritually, it means to turn away from our former life to embrace a new way of life. In fact, in its early days Christianity was known as the Way (Acts 19:9, 23), based on the understanding that the path that the disciples of Christ were following was the way of God (Mark 12:14), of the Lord (Luke 3:4), of Jesus (John 14:6), of salvation (Acts 16:17). One who was a member of the Way was a person who was dedicated to living their lives according to God’s way of doing things, not the world’s.
Godly living, then, simply means to live according to God’s direction for our lives rather than according to the standards of the world around us. Those standards are not always at odds, but they often are, so, when we are confronted with a conflict between what the Bible is telling us to do and what the world is demanding which path do we choose? Or, do we try to “compromise”? In the 1990’s a popular slogan for believers was “What would Jesus do?” Not a bad question to ask ourselves in a difficult situation, since Jesus is the standard for Christian behavior. Peter wrote, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (I Peter 1:13-16).
When we accept Jesus as Lord, we accept the call to holiness. No, we are not going to be without fault from that point on, but we are to strive to live up to His example (I John 3:3), confident that when we do stumble we have a Master Who is sympathetic to our plight (Hebrews 4:15). Moreover, through His saving grace we are granted access to the knowledge and understanding we need to succeed as His children (II Peter 1:3). To take advantage of this access we must set aside our own desires and seek the knowledge contained within His word, submitting ourselves to His will (Romans 10:2, 3). As Peter stated, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (II Peter 3:18). As we examine the Holy Scriptures we must go beyond merely reading them. We must actively apply their wisdom to our daily thoughts and actions.
There are actually several lists of does and don’ts in the New Testament, including this one: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:5-11).
With these words Peter noted that when we seek to add or expand Christian virtues in our lives we become productive members of the body, increase our spiritual “vision”, and ensure our entrance into the eternal kingdom. In much the same way Paul encouraged Timothy, writing, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Spiritual strength comes through faithful study and application of the word. However, it is important to add the following to our studies: regular church attendance (Hebrews 10:25), a strong prayer life (I Thessalonians 5:17), a willingness to give of ourselves, our assets and works (II Corinthians 9:7-8). If we present ourselves to God, sacrificing our lives to His will (Romans 12:1), we are changed and take on the perfection of Christ through His blood, as Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).
God’s will for man is that all should come to Him for salvation (I Timothy 2:3, 4; II Peter 3:9). However, whether we accept Him or not one day “every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:11). The difference on that day will be between those who confessed Jesus during their lifetime and came to Him while here on the earth and those who wait until the day of judgment. If we wait until that day it will be too late. We must choose to follow Christ now, not later. As Paul warned those in Philippi, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). If we neglect the opportunity that God has given us, or pay mere lip-service to Him, or put other things above Him we are not living Godly lives (I Samuel 16:7; II Timothy 3:5; Matthew 10:37). If we are not living Godly lives, we are putting our souls in jeopardy.
Someone once said that the sinner has nothing to gain and everything to lose by denying God, and the believer has nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in Him. Jesus once asked, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). As Christians I hope each of us understand what we gain as servants of the Lord. I also hope that we are passing that knowledge on to others. If we live Godly lives in the present age we literally have everything to gain— we gain a better life in our time here on the earth for knowing Christ, and an eternity in heaven with God when this life is over (I Timothy 4:8; 6:6; Titus 2:11-12).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.