LIVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE
(Who am I?)
By Larry White
As Christians we need to believe what God says about us.
1. You are in Christ.
2. You are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm.
3. You are chosen by God to be holy and blameless before him in love.
4. You were predestined to adoption through Jesus.
5. You are accepted by God in him, the beloved of God.
6. You have redemption through his blood.
7. You have been forgiven of all your sins.
8. You have wisdom as you seek to know God's will.
9. God has made known to you the mystery of his will.
10. You were predestined according to his purpose.
11. You have obtained a spiritual inheritance.
12. You have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
13. You have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.
14. Your eyes have been enlightened.
15. You know the hope of your calling.
16. You know the exceeding greatness of his power in you.
17. You know the riches of his inheritance in the saints.
18. You are made alive in Christ.
19. You have been raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.
20. You have been saved by grace through faith.
21. You are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
22. Once you were far away, but now you are made near by the blood of Jesus.
23. You have access through Jesus to the Father.
24. You are a fellow citizen with the saints in God's household.
25. You are built upon the foundation of Christ and the Apostles.
26. You are able to walk boldly into Christ's presence.
27. You are not tossed about by every wind of doctrine and the trickery of men trying to deceive you.
28. You are strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner self.
29. In your prayers you receive exceeding abundantly above all that you can ask or imagine.
30. You speak the truth in love and are growing up into the mature stature of Christ.
31. You have put off the old man associated with the lusts of the deceit.
32. You have put on the new man, created according to the righteousness and holiness of the truth.
33. You have been renewed in the spirit or your mind.
34. You were once in darkness but now you are light in the Lord.
35. You are able to walk as a child of light.
36. You are putting on the whole armor of God and standing against the wickedness of the world and doing battle against the evil in the spiritual realm.
In light of who you are by God's grace, walk in a manner worthy of your place and position.
That was the whole book of Ephesians.
Now, are you going to believe what God says about you, or are you going to believe what the world says about you, or what you feel about yourself? It's easy to say these things - it is easy to talk about and describe who and what we are in Christ... The hard thing, is to live who and what we are in Christ.
In the world we were taught to serve our desires and lusts. Our environment in the world played a major role in our old lives. We were taught the theory and paradigm of evolution in school, that this is the reality of the world.
We were taught to be materialistic. Get as much as you can as soon as you can. Get your success at all costs and live it to the fullest, because this is all there is. We were told that these were the important things - that this is what we have to live for.
In the world we are taught to live in a temporary world as if it is eternal, as if it is never going to end.
That's their reality - and it's all an illusion.
The challenge we have, is that we have believed a different paradigm than the world's based on sober reality. We have come to know and believe the truth, and our assignment, it to live this truth, this counter reality in the midst of the world who lives in a delusion, who lives in its own limited version of reality.
The people of the world live what they think reality to be very well, i.e. they do a good job of it. If the evolutionist thinks that he is an animal, then he lives with that frame of mind (as if he is an animal) 24 hours of each day. If the man of the world thinks that in fact there is no God, he lives every second of his day as if there is no God. Doesn't he?
The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God;
God is in none of his thoughts.
Another form of that is "All his thoughts are, there is no God." Therefore he can justify any practice he pleases as being relative, i.e. relativistic, because there is no absolute, there is no God. It does not matter where he is or who he is with, he will act the same way.
But what is reality?
Have you ever watched American diplomats when they greet foreign dignitaries? We are very cautious about how we act and what we say, so as not to offend any of their traditions or social customs. And they act like, "Yes, that is correct." You had better act appropriately around them, for they are the ones who have reality defined and their traditions must be respected, regardless of where they are or whom they are with. We had better treat them according to their custom or there is going to be trouble. So we Americans fall all over ourselves to accommodate them, forgoing our own customs and traditions.
That is exactly what the world requires of us Christians - and as if we didn't have any idea of what reality and the truth were, we cave-in and do as they do. We do as we're expected.
We are the children of God. We have the new divine spiritual life by God's power created in us. We know the absolute truth. That is the reality that we know. But can we live it? And if we know that what is in the scriptures is an accurate description of reality, then for us to live under the influence of any other frame of mind or attitude would be delusion - it would be dishonest and vain. It would not be reality.
This stance is hard because there is a lot of peer pressure in the world. We want to be accepted and liked by our friends and associates. The worst thing that can happen to us sometimes it seems, is to be ostracized and shunned by our friends as just not one of them, to just not fit in. Yet that is what will happen sometimes if we live as a real Christian - to live as Jesus lived.
I talked to a man while I was in the Navy about this and he said, "If I were to act like Jesus acted, well, people would think I was crazy.
I pointed out that this was not uncommon, that faithful men have always been treated that way.
Acts 26:19-25 (Paul before King Agrippa and Gov. Festus)
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.
Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said were about to happen – that the Christ would suffer, that he would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
Now, as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”
But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.”
Festus thought Paul was deranged because he was laying so much importance on these things with such obvious zeal. Paul was living the reality he had come to know and believe, and it did not matter where he was or who he was talking to - he was going to live what he believed. Paul never stopped being Paul the apostle, called of God, set apart, sanctified for the ministry, servant of Jesus Christ.
Jesus also was accused of being crazy.
Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.
But when his own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
These were not the disciples, but kinsmen, friends and relatives with which he grew up, who knew him as Joseph's son, a carpenter. But when they witnessed such a change in his actions and that he was going around telling everyone that he was the Messiah - they thought he had lost his mind. Of course, Jesus was simply carrying out his duties to God as the Messiah, for in reality he was.
That is how we should be when we walk like Christ. Jesus was who he was and he was not going to stop for one minute being who he was. He was the one who defined reality in every situation. He was the light of reality and truth and there was not anything anyone could do or say to cover him up or stop him from being real.
(But you cannot force your beliefs on others.)
No. But I can be 100% of who I really am in Christ in the face of other people. My responsibility before God to do truth and walk in light does not change according to where I am or who I am with.
We are the light of the world - in Christ. Reality and a sound mind travels with us and not with the world.
Christians are like the prodigal son in Luke 15, who after he had took his inheritance and spent it in riotous living, finally came to his right mind.
So we, coming to our right mind, and beginning to act as if there is a God and Savior, as if we are the children of the living God, as if we are dead to the world and there is a boundless eternity before us, then we are conducting ourselves according to the dictates of reason - of a sound mind. Anything else out in the world is folly and delusion.
How should we treat our neighbor in the reality that we know?
Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." What I am describing in this sermon is strength. Spiritual strength of faith to live like who we are in Christ in the midst of an ungodly world among whom we shine as lights. (Paul to the Thessalonians)
Paul said to put on the whole armor of God. (Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel, Faith, Salvation, the word of God and Prayer.) Do you really think you could have all that armor on and not stand out in a crowd - not be different from your friends as much as light is from darkness? If you are going to be a strong Christian, you are going to stick out.
Our whole identification needs to be in Christ. Paul said that what was gain to him in his former life, he considered garbage - that he might win Christ. He counted it as lost, gone, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We need to treat our worldly life that way. The world is not worth it. We read what the disciples said to Jesus: "Lord we have left everything and followed you." That is what God requires of us - to give up everything we own in this world for the sake of Christ - give it up - both in your heart and if need be in your actions.
We live in Christ. Christ is our life. We belong to him, and we have not only given everything we own to him, but we have given our very lives to Jesus Christ. That is what is required to come out of the world.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your rational service. And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may discern the will of God, the good and acceptable and perfect.
There is a recent common meme that many say, "You are what you do." And some have applied that to Christians, that if you will act like a child of God then you will be one. I've heard others shorten it to: "Fake it till you make it." But that is not what I'm advocating here. What I am saying is, "You do what you are." It starts on the inside. Renewing the mind. You do what you believe. Faith - which works - by love.
Paul said, "by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world."
If we have followed that course then we can, by faith, really live as a Christian. But it takes faith and a full commitment to Christ, to live like he did - to live what we believe.
By God's grace we can do just that.
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
That is our reality, and God will give us power to live it - as we grow in our faith and knowledge of him.
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, OR. March 17, 1985)