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LIVING IN REVERSE PART 7. JESUS LIVES YOUR LIFE
We’ve been moving through this series about Living in Reverse. We’ve learned to put what God says after the “but…” – to agree with Him, and to let our dominant reality be determined by God’s Word and God’s actions. We’ve learned to draw life from the Spirit, not from our outward circumstances – not even the good ones. We’ve learned that when we are in Christ, our old self has been crucified, and we are dead to sin to the law. We’ve begun to learn how to fight the ongoing temptations that would try remove us from all these truths we’ve been talking about. We have begun to explore our new life as citizens of heaven, and all the resources we now have in Christ. We’ve been learning our new identity.
All this is leading toward an ultimate purpose: so that Jesus Christ can express His Life through you. Let me put a different way: The purpose of it here on earth is so that Jesus Christ can live your life. Paul puts it like this:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20, ESV)
Now, as I have preached these messages, I have noticed that some people have a certain amount of fear. I have had some fear of my own. That fear is that if we believe that sin is truly taken care of we (or maybe other Christians) will sort of go crazy and completely indulge ourselves in a lifestyle of sin. Now, I’ve addressed that in other messages, by trying to explain the relational connection we now have with God. But I want to point that there are two probable roots to this kind of fear.
The first root is control. Believe it or not, a lot people feel more comfortable with the idea that spiritual things are up to them. If I have to somehow measure up, then I have some control – I can work to make sure that I do in fact measure up. Some folks are very uncomfortable with the idea that they can’t do anything about their spiritual condition – not even after they are Christians. Some people would rather check spiritual items off a list than actually interact with the living God in a daily, personal way.
The second reason we often fear grace, is that we don’t really trust that Jesus will live his life through us and other Christians. I had neighbors once who weren’t Christians. The woman was pretty much a pagan feminist. We prayed for her and her husband for years. Eventually she started coming to our church. One night in our small group she confessed to us, and to the Lord that she was a Wiccan – a witch. She asked for God’s forgiveness. The next day she renounced Wicca and burned her Wiccan books. Not long after that, she completely gave her life to Jesus.
Shortly after she became a Christian we had a conversation, and I realized that she still held a lot of pagan and feminist views. She believed that there was nothing wrong homosexual behavior or abortion. I thought, “Oh my goodness, she’s a Christian now, but she still has all these pagan attitudes.” I had no idea where to start with her.
You see this really works. When we are truly surrendered to Jesus, he really will live his life through us.
I didn’t have to. Over the next year or so the Lord worked within her to change her attitudes. I don’t know exactly when or how it happened, but Jesus living within her made sure that she did not continue in unbiblical beliefs or practices.
I didn’t even know she was a Wiccan, before she told us, but the Lord did. He worked within her to change that. The Lord knew before I did the thoughts and attitudes she held that were wrong. He worked within her to change that. She had been a feminist, but before any of us more mature believers talked to her about that, she felt the Lord leading her to change her feminist attitudes and actions toward her husband. That change led him to become a Christian a few months later.
You see this really works. When we are truly surrendered to Jesus, he really will live his life through us. I didn’t have to lay out religious rules for my neighbor to follow – I just had to introduce her to Jesus, and once she surrendered to Him, He began to live his life through her.
We had another lady who started coming to a cell group in that church. She had been raised in a Christian home, but as far as we could tell, she didn’t have a living faith. She lived with her boyfriend and thought nothing was wrong with that. One night she wanted prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. I thought that was jumping the gun a little bit, since she didn’t really know Jesus. But we prayed. When we were done she said, “when you prayed for me, I really did get the Holy Spirit.” I didn’t think so, but I didn’t want to burst her bubble, so I didn’t say anything.
The next day she called me. “I just told my boyfriend he had to move out,” she said. “I have the Holy Spirit now, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t want to live like that.” She told me some other changes she was making in her life. I was floored. She really did have the Spirit!
Once she was surrendered to Jesus, once he lived in her through the Spirit, I did not have to tell her it was wrong to live with her boyfriend. The Spirit showed her.
Now I am not saying there is no use in knowing what the Bible says. The Spirit works through the Word to guide, correct and teach us. Both of these women got extensive Bible teaching and mentoring. But the changes in their lives were brought about not by other Christians giving them rules to follow, nor by them making a tremendous effort, but rather Jesus living his life through them. Their main work was simply to trust Jesus and respond to him as he led them.
I could tell you more true stories but my hope is that if you are a believer, you will see for yourself that Jesus will live his life through you if you let him. And this is why we don’t need to focus on whether or not we are sinning. If we are focused on Jesus and if we respond to him as he teaches us and leads us, we are not going to sin very often. You see, if Jesus is the one living your life, Jesus isn’t going to sin. It’s only when we stop believing it, and stop responding in faith to Jesus that we get into trouble. We get into trouble when WE try to live our OWN lives. Even when we are trying live our lives in a holy way, if we are doing it on our own, we tend to get into trouble.
READ ON TO FINISH THE MESSAGE….