Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 18 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Alive in Christ.”
In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about Living the Christian life with Integrity in all our relationships every day, whether in the home, among friends, or interacting with other people wherever we may be.
I don’t know if I’ve shared this fact about myself recently or not, but I need to tell you about it now. When I was young—before I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and invited Him to be Lord of my life—I had a pretty foul mouth. I’m not proud of that now, for sure, but it’s something the Holy Spirit had to clean up for me as I grew in God’s grace.
One incident sticks in my mind that revealed to me just how negatively my witness for Jesus was impacted by the gutter language coming from my mouth. It was a significant moment in my spiritual growth, although I didn’t recognize it as that at the time.
My brother Beryl and I were working for a neighboring farmer as hired hands. Our assigned jobs sometimes brought us together for a particular job or project. Beryl was a couple of years older than me. We were both in our late teens.
One day Mr. Childers—the farmer who hired us—needed a barbed wire fence built across one of his pasture fields. Beryl and I got our supplies together and headed out to do the job. Since he was older, he was the unspoken leader for the task.
The first thing we needed to do was set all the fence posts in a straight line from one side of the field to the other. It was a matter of pride in our farming community for all the fences to be absolutely straight—especially if they could be seen from the road—but more importantly, just because that was the right way to build a fence.
To make sure all the posts were lined up accurately, we would visually check as each post was dropped into the hole we had dug for it. One of us—that would be me—had to walk back several posts, then sight down the line toward the far side of the field. I’d then tell Beryl if the post he was holding needed to be moved an inch or two one way or the other so it would be in line with the rest of the fence.
I’m not sure just what precipitated our argument that day, but we got into a pretty heated verbal exchange over some trivial detail about the fence. In the middle of that fight I let loose with a string of swear words that were anything but godly. In fact, I’m quite sure I used the Lord’s Name in vain multiple times in my anger.
Suddenly, Beryl stopped, and looked at me intently.
He knew the answer, of course. But, I was immediately brought up short—guilty as charged! I had made a great profession of “knowing Christ” after my conversion experience. He was right to challenge my conduct. It is a lesson I’ve never forgot.
Let’s think about this for a few minutes.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth that, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
And again, Paul wrote this to the Ephesians: “[God] raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).
I love how this text is expressed in the New Living Translation: “For he (God) raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”
What incredible implications this reality carries for us in our daily lives in the here and now!
In his letter to the Colossians Paul wrote, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6 NASB).
It’s pretty obvious, people who make of profession of being a Christian need to live with the integrity of Christlikeness.
“Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
These counsels from God’s Word can be applied across the board to all our conduct, words, and actions. Our primary assignment as ambassadors for Christ’s kingdom is to rightly represent Him. Anything less detracts from the true beauty that can only be found in Jesus.
Quite obviously, my words and actions on that day long ago when my brother Beryl and I were building a fence together did not represent Jesus. By his challenge, I was convicted of the wrongness of my actions. The Holy Spirit shined the light into my darkness and revealed an ugly truth lurking there. A long-standing habit of bad speech, coupled with a short-fused temper, needed healing. I was guilty. God—and my brother—were gracious. And life moved on.
Together, we finished the fence. And, at the end of the day, all the posts lined up in perfect order.
Now, here is some really good news that gives us hope when we know we’ve messed up:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made [us] free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).
Walk with me as we flesh this out.
In Christ you are not merely forgiven, you are declared innocent! “Innocent” is not quite the same as “not guilty.” The sinner who is forgiven is “not guilty,” but that person’s record still indicates that although the “sinner” is now free from the penalties of transgression he/she is still just a sinner, albeit a forgiven sinner.
But, in Christ our status from heaven’s viewpoint is more than that! In Christ we are declared innocent, as though the sin never happened in the first place!
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He (God) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
And Romans 5:18 says, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
Here are Jesus’s words to Nicodemus—the most well-known Bible verse in all the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
And, we must not miss the powerful message in the next verse, John 3:17. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
So, here is a simple, but overwhelming truth: If you are “in Christ” and believe God’s promises, you will not be lost!”
All right, so far so good. What is the next step in understanding God’s will for us in our relationship to him and in our daily conduct?
The Christian life does not stop with salvation. We are called to ABIDE in Christ.
Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
What does it mean to “abide” in Christ?
My mind goes immediately to Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
To “dwell in the secret place of the Most High” means that we choose that place as the base for our lives. We can live in total spiritual security—the security of God’s salvation and protective care.
Choosing to dwell in the “shadow of the Almighty” is a beautiful metaphor, picturing someone setting up his tent under the loving watch care of El Shaddai, the God who provides an endless supply of love, grace, and total protection.
King David’s heart overflowed in a wonderful hymn of praise as he understood this great truth.
“The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Yahweh all the days of my life, delighting in the [His] perfections and meditating in His Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising Yahweh with music” (Psalm 27:4-6).
Psalm 27 is one of those great chapters in the Old Testament we would do well to read often, even memorize. The entire chapter is only 14 verses long. I would encourage you to find that page in your Bible, read the verses with prayer in your spirit, meditate on each verse. Let the Word speak to you.
You will not be disappointed.
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing another feature of a favorite book/author. Next week’s featured author will be Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.
Be sure to tune in, and if you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please share with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!