You Must Forsake Your Old Way of Life to be a Christian

Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him.” (Ps 45:10–11)

The Psalmist tells us that those who desire to be the Lord’s should forsake their past life. They shouldn’t hold on to it, instead, they should let it go, turning to live as God’s people in His kingdom.

Something We Must Do

Forsaking our past life not only pleases God but it is something we must do in order to be Christian. We cannot worship two Masters. Nor can we live a divided life. We must give of ourselves fully to the Lord, allowing Him to lead and guide us. He must be both our Savior and Lord.

The Mistake We Make

Mistakenly, many believe coming to Christ doesn’t involve forsaking their past way of living. This error is partly the product of our sinful nature wanting to hold on to control, and it’s partly the product of a decisionism culture that tells us all we need to do it accept Christ and everything will be alright. While we must believe/accept/profess the gospel message about Jesus – that God saves repentant sinners through the death and resurrection of Jesus – we must also give our life fully over to Him.

Repent – What Does it Mean?

Repentance is a key component of becoming a Christian. When we repent, we are essentially doing a 180. We are turning from a life lived for ourselves to a life lived for God. We are forsaking our desire to be our own god, and we are recognizing God’s right to be the God of our lives. When we repent, we not only tell God we are sorry for sinning against Him, but we also tell Him that we want Him to lead and guide us. We tell Him that we recognize His rightful place as our King and that we are willing to submit to His lordship over our lives.

Repentance, then, is a necessary part of becoming a Christian. If we haven’t repented, we haven’t forsaken our old way of life, and we aren’t citizens in God’s kingdom.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you forsaken your old way of life?
  2. Have you repented?
  3. Do you recognize that God is the King of your life?

Resource

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On Prayer: The Chief Exercise of Faith

Over the years I’ve found much of what I’ve read about prayer to be unhelpful. Here’s why: Prayer is usually considered under the heading of ‘spiritual disciplines’ which makes it the spiritual equivalent of running on a treadmill or flossing your teeth, neither of which are attractive to me. Viewing prayer purely as a discipline drags the whole business back into the world of law, and law can never impart life.

I awakened to this when I discovered a description of prayer that warmed my heart with a fresh desire to pray. Calvin describes prayer as

“the chief exercise of faith by which we daily receive God’s benefits.”

Then he offers this compelling picture:

“We dig up by prayer the treasures that were pointed out by the Lord’s gospel, and which our faith has gazed upon.”

Imagine walking over a field where vast treasure lies buried. To make these riches your own, you need two things: a map and a spade. Scripture is your map, and prayer is your spade.

I find this picture helpful because it delivers prayers from the austere world of law and discipline and brings it into the realm of the gospel and promise, where it belongs. Prayer is more than a duty to be fulfilled; it is a gift to be enjoyed. There is a world of difference between ‘having your quiet time’ as a spiritual discipline and drawing near to God to possess what He promises to you in Christ.

Since prayer is “the chief exercise of faith by which we daily receive God’s benefits,” it follows that the primary gifts you will receive go far beyond ‘answers’ to items or needs on your prayer list. Prayer is the means by which you lay hold of all that God has promised in your own life and in the lives of others for whom you pray.

Question for Reflection

  1. What do you think about prayer?

Resources

Colin Smith, Jonah: Navigating a God-centered Life, 62-63.

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On The Gospel vs. Religion

Religion commands us to change our behavior, but it cannot change our hearts. It can tell us to do what is right, but cannot give us a love for the right. Only the gospel and the assurance it yields creates a passion for the right in our hearts, because only the gospel goes deep enough to actually change the warped nature of our hearts.

Question for Reflection

  1. Have you ever found yourself trying to modify your behavior instead of resting in Jesus for salvation?

Resources

J.D. Greear, Stop asking Jesus into your heart, 17.

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