Summary: You gave me a soul, Lord. You gave me a life. Now show me how to live it. How do we go about living this life before us? Where do we go from here?
So get rid of every filthy habit and all wicked conduct. Submit to God and accept the word that he plants in your hearts, which is able to save you.
James 1:21 GNT
You gave me a soul, Lord. You gave me a life. Now show me how to live it. How do we go about living this life before us? Where do we go from here?
So the Christian commitment comes. Faith in Christ descends like a dove from heaven. A transcendent power and presence begins to dwell among us. The journey ahead takes shape. I had been going in one direction, now that direction changes. I ask God where to go, what to do... where does he want me?
Being a Christian is definitely about holding and pursuing a certain mindset. It's about embracing a different way of life. That way is described in great detail in the books of the Bible, especially in the letters of the New Testament. It can be challenging though. We wonder how to translate the words on the pages into practical application.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name -Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)
For me it begins with a mindset, and I have to pursue that mindset everyday. It doesn't just happen. I have to chase after it. Prayer becomes absolutely vital to building on that mindset. And of course that makes sense. Through prayer we access the power of God to spur changes within us.
God dealt with the sin in my life. That was a huge part of the positive transitions in my life and mindset. I've had to come to believe again and again that God can and will help me to overcome sins in my life. He grants victory when I put in the daily footwork.
The primary work of Jesus Christ, God, is the legal absolution of my sins. He legally absolves me from my sins, like I am in a court room, with a list of my crimes being displayed to the judge. Then enters Jesus Christ, who says to the judge that he will suffer the consequences of those sins instead of me.
Yet just as important is that I am a new creation in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I have been born again (John 3:1-8). God has declared me "not guilty" in Jesus Christ, innocent, and now gifted with eternal life. Though my body will die, my spirit will live forever. Continuing forward, I'm asked to participate in a new plan for my remaining life on Earth though. Many Christians seem to forget this part. They think they are saved, and then they go do whatever they want. Not so.
God asks me to become a servant of his kingdom and his plan on Earth. He asks me to participate in my own sanctification, or the process of growing out of past sinful patterns. That is a gradual process for most, taking our entire lives.
God asks me to serve others, to become the servant of all. In my past I was a servant of myself. I did what I wanted, I did what felt good, and I pursued my own goals in life. Now I look to meet the needs of others. I look to love and serve those around me. What does that look like? I think it means inviting people to relationship with Jesus Christ. I think it means volunteering and serving in ministries. I think it means donating money to charity. I think it means praying for others. A big part of that process begins with prayer.
Part of my daily walk with God is praying once in the morning and once at night. I also try to pray an "Our Father" at the mid-point in the day. Three times a day seems reasonable, that's how Daniel did it (Daniel 6:10).
I had to watch closely for the messages I was receiving in my life. Certain movies I stopped watching, certain music fell off my playlist. I actually got rid of my television set altogether. Too many ads. Too many sexual commercials, beer ads, tempting food ads, that is a literal assault on my senses, and it triggers a lot of my sinful desires. And of course so, that's how they make money.
I stopped spending time in certain places around town. I began to back away from friends that were a bad influence on me. A tough one was beginning to reform my sexual conduct. Many, many Christian men struggle with that area of conduct. It definitely needs to be addressed. Masturbation, pornography, pre-marital sex... All of those need to be removed.