Summary: This sermon deals with one scenario of what goes wrong in a Believer’s life after being born again and suggests how to live the Christian life victoriously from an Exchanged-Life perspective.
New Christians are exciting to be around. You can usually pick them out in a group. They’re the ones with the glow on their faces, ecstatic over the fact that God loves them and excited about what Jesus is doing in their lives. But somewhere down the road, the glow vanishes. What happens after true repentance has taken place and new birth comes into the life of a born again believer? What goes wrong in the lives of most Christians so that they lose the joy and excitement they experienced as new believers?
Well for many people, the Christian life takes on a performance orientation. “Let me see how much I can do for God to prove my love for Him and get Him to accept me and love me even more.” So, rather than walking by faith in the love of God, many Christians try to earn His love and acceptance through their performance. It’s the mind-set that says, “If I perform, then God will bless.” But that attitude robs you of the joy knowing and experiencing Christ’s love and grace.
Bob George gives this testimony: “I was born again as a very self-sufficient lost person and I became a very self-sufficient saved person. So getting involved in an organization that was very evangelical, very witness minded was easy. But the deception that sometimes occurs is: if you’re witnessing that means you’re very spiritual. Now, some other organization may communicate if you memorize Scripture you’re really spiritual or if you pray a lot you’re really spiritual. So it kind of depends upon which group you’re associated with because they establish that identity for you.” For Bob, coming out of a sales background, witnessing wasn’t hard to do. “I just changed products from carpeting to Jesus. So I was selling Him. I witnessed and everyone thought, ‘Boy, he’s really spiritual.’ And here I was a babe in Christ growing, but I liked that being petted on the head. I liked the acceptance that was coming from it. That’s something I’d been working on all my life, that is, acceptance. So witnessing was reinforcing a pattern of performance that was there.” So for many people the Christian life takes on a performance perspective.
So, how are you to live the Christian life? Well, Colossians 2:6 communicates clearly how you and I are to live the Christian life: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.” How are you to live the Christian life according to this verse? By faith. You received Jesus as Savior and Lord by trusting Him to forgive you and give you His Life. In the same way, by faith you trust Him to live His Life through yours.
Often times, we enter the performance game because we don’t know that God accepts us. We know that He loves us, but we’re not quite sure that He accepts us or likes us. However, Ephesians 1:6 in the King James Version says, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, through which He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” Christianity is not a performance based religion. It’s a vital, pulsating relationship with Jesus Christ. There’s only one way to enter into that relationship, by faith. By trusting God to do for you and in you and through you what you cannot do for yourself. And there’s only one way to enjoy that relationship, by faith. You can’t exercise faith in Jesus Christ and try to earn His love and acceptance at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive.
So, approaching the Christian life with a performance mentality is nothing more than living under the law – trying to earn God’s love and acceptance through obedience to the ten commandments or some other set of standards, rules or regulations. That’s an impossibility. Much of the New Testament was written to show us this truth. So, to recapture the joy of your salvation, you must die to living under the law. Paul says in Galatians 2:19-20, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I’ve been crucified…”
In his testimony, Bob George said, “I received more acceptance from my witnessing than I did in the business world. It was better that selling carpet. So here was all this desire to be accepted. In fact, there’s a world of difference between being loved and being accepted. That came to him a number of years later as a Christian when he was sitting across from his son at the breakfast table following graduation from college. They were talking and in the conversation his son said to him, “Dad I always knew you loved me.” And that’s true.” Then Bob asked him a question that he’d never thought of before and he’d never asked before. “Son did you always know that I accepted you?” And there was a pause when he said, “No, Dad I didn’t.” Then Bob said, “Tell me more about that.” His son responded, “Well, Dad I just always felt like you would’ve accepted me more had I gone into full-time Christian work like you instead of the real estate business or had I read the Bible more or maybe I’d gone to church more. In other words, his acceptance was being based upon what he was doing. Now he knew I loved him, but his acceptance was in what he was doing and wasn’t doing. That opened up a whole new realm of understanding to me that I was doing the same thing with God. I knew that He loved me. “For God so loved the world . . . “ He loved the world, he had to love me. He had no choice in that. But His acceptance of me was in what I was doing for Him. As he verbalized that to his son on a human level, he realized that’s what God was saying to him. God doesn’t accept us for what we do or don’t do. He accepts us “in the Beloved.”