What is God Like?
What Does God Expect of a Christian?
In our last two talks,” began John, “we discussed the church and the Christian. Now I would like to know, what does God expect of a Christian?”
“In Micah, chapter six and verse eight, it says, ‘and what doth the Lord require of thee; but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God,’” offered grandpa.
“But that is in the Old Testament,” protested John, “and it is not spoken to Christians.”
“Everything in the Bible is spoken to Christians,” corrected grandpa. “But consider the words of Titus, chapter two and verses eleven and twelve, ‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.’”
“Didn’t we agree, in a previous discussion,” demured John, “that no one can live a godly and righteous life without sin?”
“That is true,” admitted grandpa. “But that doesn’t lower the righteous requirements of God. It was because no one could hope to meet these requirements that Christ had to come to this earth to die for your sins and mine. Now God not only provides forgiveness for our sins but He provides us with the means to live a life that pleases Him, ‘for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto you,’ says Romans, chapter five and verse five, and in the following chapter, verse four, it says, ‘we are buried with Him (Christ) by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.’”
“How can we possibly do that?” demanded John.
“Galatians, chapter two and verse twenty, tells us,” explained grandpa. There the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ God never promised we would live without sinning, but He did promise ‘sin shall not have dominion over you,’ Romans six and fourteen. As long as we permit Christ to rule our hearts we will obey God, but when we neglect Him, Satan takes over and leads us into sin. Jesus in His prayer in John seventeen prayed that we might be kept from evil, be perfect because Christ dwells in us, and have within us the same love God had for Christ. The verse we quoted about the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts confirms that God answered Christ’s prayer. With this kind of love in our heart we can overcome evil and live as God intended us to live.”
“Does that mean we will not sin any more?” inquired John.
“No it doesn’t,” grandpa hastened to answer. “It does mean that as long as we allow the love of God to control our thoughts and actions we will do only right, but we have an enemy who constantly tempts us to do wrong. Romans, chapters seven and eight, tell us of the two natures that struggle within us. The Apostle Paul confessed, ‘for the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do,’ chapter seven and verse nineteen. But then God makes provision for this, for if we sin, ‘we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,’ as it tells us in 1 John, chapter two and verse one. This is the work of Jesus Christ who is in heaven at the right hand of God ‘making intercession for us,’ Romans eight, verse thirty-four.”
“This living to please God means allowing His love to have His way in our lives,” suggested John.
“That is correct,” announced grandpa. “The Bible likens our conduct to a walk and speaks of the desirable results of our Christian life as the fruit of the Spirit.”
“Where do we find these illustrations in the Bible?” questioned John.
“As we have already learned,” continued grandpa, “the Bible uses figurative language. Darkness illustrates evil and light good. In First John, chapter one and verses six and seven, we are told, ‘If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.’ Then in verse nine it says, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ In the next chapter, from verses ten and eleven, we learn that loving our brother or fellow Christian is a proof we are walking in the light, and hating him proves we are walking in darkness. In other places in the Bible we are urged’ to ‘walk in love’ or to ‘walk honestly as in the day,’ and as we mentioned above to ‘walk in newness of life.’ Galatians, chapter five and verses twenty-two and twenty-three, lists the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit, for Christian character is not only legal correctness but the possession and use of the nine graces: ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.’ “
“God certainly expects a lot from us,” sighed John.
“He surely does,” emphasized grandpa, “but then He gives us the power and strength to serve Him. He expects us to obey His commandments, but His Spirit abides in us to give us the means to obey them. We haven’t said anything about other things God expects of us such as obedience, worship and testimony to others, but these must await a future discussion. If we had to depend upon our own strength we would surely fail, but ‘we walk by faith and not by sight,’ as we read in second Corinthians, chapter five and verse seven.”
Passages to read: Romans 7:1-8, 14-25; 8:1-17; Galatians 2:20; 5:22-26; Ephesians 4:1-3, 17-32; 5:1-2; Colossians 3:1-17.