How Should My Life Change Upon Salvation?
In a previous chapter, we discussed salvation, and I promised we’d talk about how a life should change later. Now that we’ve discussed Salvation and (to a degree) repentance, this seems like a good time to tackle this question.
When someone is saved, there should be an immediate change in life style. We are commanded to cast ourselves aside, pick up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23).
But the amount of change one must make is probably dependent on how far one was from Christ and/or how steeped in sin he was. Each individual just needs to focus on the above=referenced verses. How much of what you were doing was about you, and how much of it was about Christ?
When one becomes a Christian, the key aspect of this is the casting off of self. This is where that life change is visible. When one sees an unredeemed individual, the obvious traits include:
A self-centered lifestyle with no or very little (lip service) direction toward Christ. This is an individual who never spends time with Christ, never (or hardly ever) spends time in prayer, never serves (evangelizes, helps a brother or neighbor. This becomes more complicated because a person can be looking like he’s doing those things, but if he’s not doing so to honor God, and isn’t directing the attention from himself (or herself) to God, then his actions may be beneficial to man, but they are not done to the glory of God. We aren’t called to judge a person’s motives, but a careful look at a person and his habits are an indicator. Anyone spending the bulk of his energy to pursue his own goals and agenda may not be redeemed. When this person turns and begins instead to purse Godly things or begins to transition from looking for credit for himself and giving it to God, that is one visible life change.
A sinful life. You can proclaim Christ till he returns, but if you’re still living in sin, you’re not redeemed. Christ never knew you (Matthew 7:21-23). In another chapter, we’ll talk more closely about living in sin rather than being sanctified in Christ. Here, the point is a guy who’s observable actions are sinful isn’t redeemed. That’s not to say that everything he does is Biblically sinful, but he (or she) may have several sins they covet and hold onto rather than turn from. Some redeemed take more time. All redeemed still sin, but are more prepared to accept discipline than one lost in his sin. These are those who say, “Oh, I know it’s wrong, but Christ will forgive me.” Please beware dear people, that if you you feel what you have is a blank check to sin without cost, you are lost (Romans 6:1-4). Where an unrepentant or unredeemed person who hasn’t truly sought Christ for forgiveness would simply go on about his sinful life, a repentant person would mourn his sin (Matthew 5:4), and strive to stop their life. They wouldn’t say what the unrepentant above would say. Instead, they would say, “I’m ashamed of this sin, and I need help turning away. Pray for me! Thank God, who grants me forgiveness through the son he sent to die for my sins.”
Contrary to the popular phrase, God does not at all love us for who we are. He loves us despite of who we are. But this righteous God, this just God, our loving God will not change for us. Rather, he demands we change for him.
Some of our sins fall away quickly. Other fade, like an echo of a scream. Whichever happens, it should be obvious that a person’s sin is falling away. No one is prefect, but a repentant person is seeking to decrease his sin. He’s certainly not sinning without regard or remorse.
I could probably expand this list. I think one concerned with this should study Matthew 25:36-40 closely. Are you doing the things Christ asks you to do or not?
I’ve thought for a while about the question, “Well what about you?” Then something occurred to me while reading “The Heart of Anger” by Lou Priolo. That question is in itself a manipulative question smelling of the same accusatory questions the Pharisees used to attempt to convict Christ.
That question comes from the heart of one who wants to compare himself to other men, which we’re not supposed to do (Galatians 6:4-6). To you I say, it isn’t about me. This isn’t a challenge to compare yourself to me, but rather a plea that you look to your own life and seek to change that you may be blessed.
Now, for those of you who say, “But I’m trying! How can I know that I’m truly being sanctified? What happened in your life?” You my brothers, are seeking fellowship. Where the above person seeks to inflict guilt, this second set of questions seeks to find guidance. This is important. They’re different hearts, and the heart is what matters.
To you I say that I still have sins I struggle with. My greatest conflict is with the very pride I warned you about earlier. I’m striving to check myself. I’m striving to weigh my anger righteously. And I angry on behalf of God or myself? Am I disappointed that I didn’t get my way, or trusting in God’s sovereignty? I pray for help in this. I have brothers and sisters in Christ whom I discuss this with and seek their rebuke to guide me. There are sins that I haven’t committed in a long time. I word that carefully because what I’m not trying to do is pridefully say that, “I’ll never do that again.” We must remember, we’re mortal, and our flesh is susceptible to sin. If we do slip, we have an advocate who speaks for us (1 John 2:1). How we respond to that sin matters.
As for a life change. Look at this blog. This time I choose to spend on God could be given to any other pursuit. Instead, I choose to give God this time. It’s not always … easy? What I mean is at this moment, there’s a football game on. I don’t really care who wins, but I love football. I’m tempted to “take a break” and watch the game. Is it a sin to watch football? Not at all. However, to love football more than god is to make it an idol. Then, it becomes sinful. Instead, I discipline my mind and body, working to give this time to Christ, who gives us entertainment tat we may rejoice and praise him.
So what I chose to do to address this is to 1) remind people that it’s not to accuse me or justify yourself by comparison and 2) offer one example each of lifestyle change not as evidence of my salvation. Only God can make that judgement anyway. Instead, it is there to offer encouragement to others.
For our panel: How can one cast off their sin? What does one do when he struggles to let himself go? Should we simply give up if we don’t change by a certain time? Do we as Christians have authority to declare someone redeemed or unredeemed based on our own observations? if not, why do we look at the fruit people bare?