Part Three: For the Right Reasons!
We fell from Grace, and have been made free from Sin, but we won’t be perfect overnight. It’s an ongoing process, in order to achieve this we must give ourselves over to the leadership of God. In Francis Chan’s book, Forgotten God Chan looks at following a 1st John lifestyle as a process of sanctification. “When we submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, he helps us become more holy – more like Jesus. It is a lifelong journey of putting our flesh to death, or as Paul puts it in Galatians 5, of walking by the Spirit and not gratifying the desires of the flesh.” (Chan 2009, 92, 93) The sanctification process is an ongoing process, but God leaves it to our own decision! Do we want to walk in sanctification; do we want to live as if Christ has returned?
It is a conscious decision we make to surrender our will to that of God’s and then another choice to continue to surrender and follow through with what His will is, it’s not anything that is done without our realizing it. “At some point along the way you agreed with God that you were not meant to be ruled by your fleshy desires and passions (like anger, self indulgence, immorality, etc.) and you removed the central role that these things once had in your life.” (Chan 2009, 93, 94) and what the Spirit does is help us understand the choices we make, and give us the strength, if we desire it, to keep this view of God’s plan for our lives. It’s a choice none the less.
As mentioned before, this lifestyle is not to curry favor with God, or to gain eternal life. In the only 1st John bible commentary that this author found at Lifeway that argued that John meant a literal, we are not to sin, instead of it being merely a goal, Martin Lloyd-Jones begins to develop a theme of a lifestyle of holiness. “I am not to live a good and holy life in order that I may become a Christian; I am to live the holy life because I am a Christian. I am not to live this holy life in order that I may enter heaven; it is because I know I am going to enter heaven that I must live this holy life.” (Lloyd-Jones 2002, 299)
This first John lifestyle should be lived, because we as a bride of Christ should want to prepare ourselves for our Beloved, out of love and desire for him and for no other reason! Lloyd-Jones continues “I am not to strive and sweat and pray in order that at the end I may enter into heaven. No; I start rather from the standpoint that I have been made a child of God by the grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am destined for heaven and it is because I know this that I am preparing now… it is because I know I am going to meet God that I must prepare to meet him.” (Lloyd-Jones 2002, 299) He goes on to argue that pursuing a 1st John Lifestyle should be considered normal to genuine Christians.
While it’s been a while and you may need to check out the first couple of parts, I think this is still important!!
So many times, we as Christians don’t embrace these truths of why. We choose to believe it’s something we must do before we become Christians, or God will do for us, or that we must in order to remain Christians… but the authors quoted here don’t believe the same… what are your thoughts?