The Christian life is not just a free pass to live however we want. By placing our trust in Christ alone, Christians become new people from the inside. The result is a change on the outside, as we start living our lives to honor God.
The Christian Life Is Based on Grace
We begin a relationship with God by his grace – his generous gift – which we receive by faith. The Christian life works by grace as well. Every day we recognize our brokenness and need and turn to God to do and be all that we need. So the Christian life is not a matter of proving our worthiness or earning God’s favor. God already loves us unconditionally in Christ. Some people think that grace is merely a license to sin. But grace actually promotes a changed life.
Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.
The outward expressions of Christian living may look very similar to other religious faiths. But the internal motivation is much different. We live to obey and honor God, not because we have to earn our place in heaven or to obligate God to bless us, but because we want to express our love for our Redeemer. In response to God’s unlimited mercy, we desire to live in a way that pleases him.
[Related: Does Grace Mean I Can Do What I Want?]
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What’s more, when a person comes to trust in Jesus, God creates a new life within.
2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Out of that supernatural act of new birth, a new lifestyle springs forth as naturally as fruit develops on a tree.
[Related: Obedience to God After Mormonism]
We Live to Honor God
The Christian life is not a list of required rituals and commandments. But it is a life of honoring God.
2 Corinthians 5:9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.
Pleasing God cannot be reduced to a checklist. Jesus made it clear that the Christian life is about relationships, not regulations. He set forth two relational priorities that define what it means to live for God.
Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
The Christian life is all about loving God and loving others. But that’s not easy. How can we actually put those priorities into practice?
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The Bible Guides Is
The Bible is more than a human book (2 Peter 1:20-21). It is God’s word (1 Thessalonians 2:13). As such, the Bible is our final authority. In it, we learn what God considers true and right. It teaches us how to love God and love our neighbor. Christians do not look to any church for the ultimate truth about what to believe or how to live. We look to God’s word (Luke 11:28). Nor do we elevate our own opinions or feelings as the final authority. Feelings do have a place in the Christian life, but we must recognize that feelings can lead us astray. Our feelings and spiritual experiences – along with what any religious teacher claims – must be tested against what God has already said in the Bible (1 John 4:1).
[Related: Where Did We Get the Bible?]
We give the Bible this role in our lives because it is trustworthy. Jesus himself promised that it would not be corrupted over time (Matthew 5:18). The history of the Bible bears this out. Human circumstances change over the course of time, but God’s word remains relevant and true.
1 Peter 1:24-25 People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.
[Related: Manuscript Evidence – Has the Bible Changed?]
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The Bible is sufficient. We don’t need any other source of revelation to understand how to know and follow God. Since Jesus has come, he is the completion of God’s revelation (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Old Testament anticipates him. The New Testament simply unfolds him: his story, his words, and his character.
The Bible is life-changing. It has the power to bring us to salvation (2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 1:23). It can confront and change us in the depths of our souls.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
God’s word has the power to make fools wise, to revive the soul, to give insight and clarity for life, to impart joy, to warn us about life’s pitfalls, to correct us when we’re wrong, to prepare us for a productive life, and much more (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
[Related: Why I Trust the Bible After Mormonism]
The Holy Spirit Empowers Us
Again, the Christian life is about a relationship with God. So it’s encouraging to know that at the moment of faith God himself – by the Holy Spirit – takes up residence in our lives (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22). Through the Spirit, God is always close. The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee (Ephesians 1:14), so his presence and work in us are not conditional on our worthiness.
[Related: Who Is the Holy Spirit?]
The Holy Spirit helps us know how to follow God. He will convict of sin (John 16:8) and bring the truth to mind (John 14:26). He uses the Bible to do this (Ephesians 6:17).
[Related: All About Walking by the Spirit]
The Holy Spirit also empowers us to live for God. On our own, we can’t love God or others as we should. Instead, we will follow our selfish inclinations (Galatians 5:16). But it becomes possible to honor God as the Holy Spirit leads and empowers us (Galatians 5:22-23). The Christian life is a supernatural life. The Spirit stimulates us from within, continually drawing us to seek God and his ways.
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put by Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.
We don’t have to rely on our willpower to live a God-honoring life. Our power comes from the Holy Spirit within, who changes our motivations and desires. He works out a process of inner transformation that shapes our outward behaviors (1 Peter 1:2).
[Related: Understanding the Holy Spirit After Mormonism]
Other Believers Help Us
Another important resource God gives us for living the Christian life is other Christians. We need each other to succeed in our faith. Every Christian is a part of God’s church (1 Corinthians 12:12). This is not a visible institution, but a network of relationships described in the Bible as a family, a body, and a flock (Ephesians 2:19; Romans 12:4-5; Acts 20:28). This universal church takes shape in particular local churches (compare Acts 9:31 and 15:41). But everyone who is in relationship with Jesus is also in relationship with all of Jesus’s people – regardless of what visible church or congregation they associate with.
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Every congregation structures itself differently. But Jesus’s church is less about an institution and more about relationships. Being connected with other Christ-followers in a church helps us grow in many ways. We receive help (Galatians 5:13), encouragement (Romans 15:32), care (1 Corinthians 12:25), support (Galatians 6:2), instruction (Colossians 3:16), admonition (Hebrews 3:13), prayer (James 5:16), and more.
Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…
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Relationships are different in a Christian church compared to Mormonism. Not everyone will live in your neighborhood. You may have to take some initiative to build relationships. But it’s foolish to go it alone. We need each other. So seek other believers who can help you grow.
Galatians 6:1-2 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Join with the congregation in weekly worship. Get connected with a small group or on a serving team. Find a personal mentor. Be willing to invite people into your home. Over time you will find that God uses other believers to help you live a life that honors him.
[Related: Choosing a Church (Series)]