The Christian Lifestyle


– Christianity for Beginners. This is lesson number seven in the series entitled
The Christian Lifestyle. So in our sessions so far, we’ve covered some of the
basic ideas and teachings of Christianity and I just want one final
review before we move on here. First lesson was the reasons to believe in a personal, loving
and all-powerful God. Lesson number two was the difference between Christianity and
other world religions. In other words, what makes
Christianity so special. Third lesson about the Bible. We looked at the history and
the compilation of the Bible as well as why Christians believe
that the Bible’s inspired. In other words, it’s
produced of God and not man. Lesson number four was about Jesus Christ: who he is, what the Bible says about him, what he did, why he is important. Lesson number five in the
series, about salvation. We looked at the subject of salvation and how the concept and the promises in Christian salvation are different than the concept and the
promises of any other religion, and I believe superior. Lesson number six in the
series was about the church and how the Bible describes the model or the pattern for establishing the church according to the New
Testament in every generation. If we follow the pattern for what the church is supposed to be contained in the Bible, we can produce the same
church in the first century, the fifth century, the 21st
century, the 30th century. It’s always the same church. Why? Because it’s based on the
New Testament pattern. Okay, so in our final lesson today, I want to give you a description of what the Christian lifestyle is like and hopefully dispel some
false images of Christianity that a lot of people hold to. So we’re going to start
with the misconceptions, misconceptions about
the Christian lifestyle. I suppose that the two
most popular misconceptions about the Christian
lifestyle are the following: the first one is you’re not
allowed to have any fun. No fun. In other words, when
you become a Christian, you have to abandon most of the things that you enjoyed doing before
you became a Christian. That’s a blanket statement. The idea is that Christianity is about obeying a strict set of rules, so you have to kind of throw in the towel, you know, and okay,
I’ll become a Christian. And the second most popular misconception is that all you do as a
Christian is go to church. A lot of people refuse
to become Christians because they’re afraid
that they’ll be obliged to attend church all the time and they don’t want to go
to church all the time. The false idea that Christianity is mostly about attending
worship services, once or twice, even three times per week. Now, there’s a germ of
truth to these two ideas, but in the end, they are
expressed in such a way that distorts the true lifestyle experienced by one who
becomes a Christian. And of course, every good
lie has a bit of truth to it to kind of help the medicine go down. So we can talk about the
true Christian lifestyle. When somebody becomes a Christian, they should expect a
change in their lifestyle. That’s the idea. When you become a Christian, you should expect a
change in your lifestyle. The Christian lifestyle
means that the individual has come under a new circle of influence. That’s the change that is taking place. Paul the Apostle explains this in the Epistle of Colossians 1:13. He says, for He rescued us
from the domain of darkness. That’s where we were before
we became a Christian, we were in the dark, we
didn’t know the truth. And transferred us to the
kingdom of His beloved Son. That’s where we are when
we become Christians. So there’s a transformation
that takes place. And with the transformation
come other changes. You let go of the things of the darkness and you embrace the things of the light. So of course there’s going to be a change. There has to be a change. So in this, Paul compares
the ideas, the philosophies, the motivations of the material world to the teachings and revelations
and leadership of Christ in the world of the kingdom. One, he says, is darkness. The other is light. Since Christians now live by a different set of
realities and values, there’s bound to be a change
in thinking and behavior. You can’t avoid it. If you say, well, I was not a Christian and then I became a Christian
and nothing changed, well something’s wrong. Something’s wrong. All right, number two. In the Christian lifestyle, a person is motivated by a new spirit. Christians are motivated
by the Holy Spirit of God. They’re not self-motivated. Big difference. In this world, it’s all
about being self-motivated. Pick yourself up, pick yourself
up by your boot straps, you know, come on, you can do it, whatever your heart says, you can do it, never say die, follow your
heart, all that stuff. So before becoming Christians, most people are focused on self, or what is important for me? Our society is filled with all kinds of programs and books and experts who promise to help us
find or improve ourselves. The government, movie
stars, scientists, authors, every kind of expert want to show us how to be more healthy, more beautiful, more secure financially, more successful, how to be better parents, better athletes, better than our neighbor,
better for the environment. I remember in the wintertime,
they showed this commercial. And I forget for, some sort
of cold remedy that you take. And the commercial shows a young woman and she wakes up and she’s sick, you know, I mean you could tell. She could hardly talk, blah,
blah, blah, blah, blah. And she takes the cold remedy and the person that’s speaking
in the commercial said, don’t let anything get you down, don’t let anything get in your way. What does she do? She puts on her leotard and her track suit and her running shoes
and she goes out running. And outside it’s raining
and it’s cold and damp. Sure, that’s what you ought
to do when you’re sick. That’s what you ought to do if you get up and you have a fever and
you’ve got a sinus infection. Of course, get dressed and go
run in the rain and the cold. [chuckles] But they sell the
medicine, telling people, yeah, you can do this. We can help you to be tough. The focus is always on how to maximize our lives here on earth. How not to waste even a
morning because you’re sick so that you can continue
in your workout routine. How do we make the 70 or 90 years that we have to live here on the earth, you know, on average, how we can make those 70-90 years we have the very best 90 years. Of course, the idea underlying all of this self-motivated improvement
is that this life is all there is, so you
better make the most of it. That’s the point. If you’re just going to die
and there’s nothing else, well then this is it. You better not waste any of it ’cause you’ve only got
a little bit of time. Christians, however, are
not motivated by self. They’re not centered on self, they’re not focused on
this world exclusively. Obviously we have a focus on this world. I’m looking at everybody here. We have children, we have grandchildren. You know, of course we’re
focused on important things that belong to this world, but we’re not only focused on this world. That’s the important difference. Jesus said, if you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you. Christians live in this material world and are subject to all
of the same challenges, opportunities and experiences common to everyone else except one thing. For Christians, their
motivation is spiritual. Their goals are spiritual. Their values are biblical. A Christian will focus on the life that comes after this
life, not just this life. The object of worship for
Christians is not self or the things that are important to self, but rather Jesus Christ, the
one who offers eternal life. This difference in life center, this difference in life objectives is what creates the unique
Christian lifestyle. Yeah, I’m paying attention
to what’s going on in my life here on earth. I have to. I got to work, I got to
watch my health, of course. But I’m not only focused on that. I also have an eye on what’s to come. So it’s a lifestyle not marked
out by a change in clothing, there’s no uniform or special dress needed to be a Christian. What a Christian puts
on is Christ himself. Again, Paul says it this way
in Galatians chapter three. He says, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were
baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. And so the Christian lifestyle
is the character of Christ being developed and
perfected in the character of the Christian on a daily basis. What’s my job? Well, I’m an accountant,
I’m a nurse, I’m a teacher, I’m whatever, I’m a construction
worker, I’m a salesperson. That’s my job. And I want to be good at my job and I want to succeed at my job and I want to do a good job and I want to work profitably, yes, but my job is not my goal. My goal is heaven. My objective is to please the Lord. My value system is what I
learn from the scriptures. I’m thankful for my job
and I want to find a job that I’m good at and that I enjoy and, you know, be profitable. Nothing wrong with that, that’s all good. But the objectives of my life
are not centered on my job. That’s from a Christian perspective. As I said, Christians are subject to all the same experiences
as non-Christians, but the difference is that
Christians view and react to these as Christ would, not
simply as a human being would. For this reason, all the
elements of life are seen through the vision of Christ,
not the vision of men. So for example, the environment. The environment is not just for saving. That’s a worldly perspective. That’s a high and noble
worldly perspective. The environment is for saving. People have given up their
life to save the environment. But for a Christian, the
viewpoint of a Christian, the environment is for managing. The environment is there as a witness to God’s creative power. Big difference between the views. Money and power are not for hoarding or for fulfilling self-interest, but rather for use to the
benefit of those in need. Conflicts are not resolved through power but through prayer and forgiveness. Stress and worry are replaced with concern and focused
ministry and prayer. See the difference? Poverty and illness are not
simply a curse to be avoided, but an opportunity for
service and generosity. Trials and obstacles are
not simply to be overcome, but they are God’s way
of testing our faith and creating patience and hope in us. Failure and sinfulness are not causes for criticism and shame, but they’re an opportunity to know God’s love and forgiveness. And finally, death is not to be feared and avoided at all costs, but for the Christian,
death is something expected with the courage and confidence of one who will continue
to live after they die. Somebody says, you know,
what’s the difference between the Christian
and the non-Christian? Well, the way they see things. The way they approach problems. So these are some of the
attitudes and approaches to life experienced by Christians. Remember, we’re talking about
the Christian lifestyle. How is it different? Well, one of the ways that it’s different is that we see things
differently from other people. We see the environment differently. We see politics differently. We see things differently. So these attitudes, these
goals, this motivation creates a daily lifestyle
that is much different than those who have not believed and devoted their lives to Christ. So you may not be able to
detect who is the Christian simply by the way he or she dresses because there is no special dress code or special mark on the outside. The women don’t have to wear anything to cover their face or their head and the men don’t have to wear, you know, on a certain days, a hat or other type of garment to
identify their religiosity. There’s nothing like it. I mean, for that alone,
I’d be a Christian. [chuckles] Just for that alone. Not having to wear a uniform
to identify my religion. Is there any religion where you don’t need to have a uniform? And they say, well Christian. All right, I’ll be a Christian. Of course, you know I’m only joking as far as that’s concerned. But we identify not
from the outward stuff. You can, however, discover
who are the Christians by the way they live and
how they treat other people and how they deal with life here on earth. So when you observe or live
the Christian lifestyle, you will see Christ
himself living and acting in a person’s life. Because the way a Christian
sees the environment or the way a Christian sees an obstacle is in effect the way that
Christ sees the environment, the way that Christ sees an obstacle or the way Christ sees failure
and so on and so forth. So let’s review a little bit, okay? I said that there is a change in lifestyle when one becomes a Christian because, number one, he comes into
a new circle of influence. He or she is not self-motivated, but rather motivated by the Spirit of God. There’s one big difference. Secondly, a Christian has a
new and different motivation. People who are not Christians
are motivated by money or they’re motivated by self-interests, they’re motivated by even altruism. Christians are motivated
by the Spirit of God. A third reason for the change also. The Christian lives rather
have a new direction. We come into a different
circle of influence when we become a Christian. We’re motivated by something different when we become a Christian. And our lives now take
a different direction. Now the main activity of
most people in the world without Christ is consumption. That’s the main activity, consumption. We consume food, we consume entertainment, we consume money, power, information. Without Christ, we desire to be served, we desire to be praised, to
be cared for when we’re sick, to be honored when we do something good. I mean, that’s just what
life is about without Christ. We consume. The Christian lifestyle, however, requires the exact opposite
for the follower of Jesus. For the follower of Jesus,
the goal is to empty, is to empty ourselves. The goal for people who
have not received Christ is to fill themselves with as much as they can in this world. Paul explains this idea here in Romans 12. He says, therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a
living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual
service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind, so that you may prove
what the will of God is, that which is good and
acceptable and perfect. So as Christ was in service to us, even to the point of offering his life as a payment for our sins, Paul says that our own lives
should be spent or offered, he says, should be offered
in service to others in the name of Christ. Now the two main misconceptions
about Christian lifestyle, remember, that I mentioned
at the beginning. That it’s all about rules and removing any happiness that
we have and any fun in life. And the other misconception that Christianity is mainly
about going to church. These two ideas are clarified
by this passage here. True joy comes from knowing
and doing God’s will. And knowing His will, Paul says, is good and pleasing and perfect for us. He explains that reaching
this goal requires Christians not to copy the sinful and the
evil practices of the world which go against God’s will
and purpose for our lives, God wants us to have joy, He wants us to have true
pleasure and goodness in life. And all of these things come
legitimately by obeying Him, not by disobeying Him. So when a Christian avoids
immoral behavior of any kind, when a Christian makes an effort to be just or forgiving or generous, He’s trying to do God’s will and know the joy that comes
from doing God’s will. I’ve never seen much
happiness come from adultery. Anybody here can give a testimony that in their life or in the
life of somebody they know, somebody who has committed adultery, has, from that action, received much joy? I’m 40 years of counseling people and counseling married couples who have unfortunately
have that experience. I’ve never seen a whole lot
of joy come out of that. Anybody seen a lot of
joy come from violence? Or dishonesty? Any happiness come to a
married couple, for example, where both partners are selfish? Do those people have a lot
of joy in their marriage? How about pride? Does pride create happiness? Of course not. Christianity doesn’t forbid anything that can increase our peace and
joy and fulfillment in life. It does not deny us anything
that will give us that. What God forbids Christians are those actions and attitudes that will take away what is
good and perfect in this life. That’s what He forbids. So the Christian lifestyle
reflects the manner in which God directs our lives through the teachings of Jesus for our ultimate happiness
and eternal good. Do you understand why I’m saying this? The misconception is,
oh, Christians, you know, they don’t have any fun. There’s no pleasure in the Christian life. And the point I made
is, are you kidding me? Disobeying God never brings happiness. It brings excitement. It brings excitement. The Bible says, you know,
pleasure of sin for a season. The Bible doesn’t deny that there’s a measure
of pleasure or excitement attached to sinfulness, to
disobedience, to rebellion. Go right back to the Garden with Eve. She looked at the fruit, said, wow, looks pretty good to eat. And it looks lovely,
the packaging is nice, you know, and he said I’ll be wise. I’ll be like God. The promise is great,
pretty exciting stuff. And then of course we know what happened. Well it’s the same thing with us. So try to remember the idea, God never forbids us something
that will bring us joy and peace and legitimate happiness. He forbids us, He cautions
us to avoid those things that in the end will harm us. And then the other idea about the only thing that
Christians do is go to church. Paul explains that the
truest form of worship is the Christian lifestyle, that Christians offer
themselves to God in service, that Christians purify themselves from sinfulness and worldliness. This is the purest form of worship and it is very pleasing to God. This doesn’t mean that public
worship is not important. It is important. But public worship is a time
when Christians come together to do certain things, to praise and worship God publicly, to receive instruction and
encouragement from their leaders, to provide financial support
for the work of the gospel and to make a public witness
of their faith in Jesus by sharing the communion. But all of these public actions are based on the fact that
each Christian in the church has a Christian lifestyle
throughout the week. Otherwise, it’s simply public hypocrisy. Christianity is about
following Jesus every day. This exercises the source of our strength and provides all the
rewards of joy and peace and life eternal. I tell people, if you’re not getting a whole lot out of worship,
out of public worship, it may be because there’s not enough private worship going on. And by private worship, I don’t
mean sitting down every day and taking 20 minutes to read your Bible, although that’s a good thing, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Private worship, I’m
talking about Romans 12. Every day, I’m offering my life up to God as a living sacrifice. Every day I’m finding ways
that I can be obedient. Every day I’m finding
ways that I can appreciate what He’s done and give Him honor for it in my heart, in my praise. Every day. So going to church, as I said,
is where we come together to share the joy and the
strength and the understanding of the things that we have
experienced throughout the week. If a person isn’t living
the Christian lifestyle during the week, going to church no matter how many times won’t do him or her much good. But for the one who is
truly following the Lord, church services are a great
joy and a great blessing. They’re not a burden. I mean, obviously, I’m a minister, so I have to be here. I get paid to go to church. People say that, yeah, you
get paid to go to church. Boy, if I got paid to go to church, I’d be there all the time, too. [chuckles] But I love public worship. I love being with the church. It’s marvelous. My friends, my mentors, my family is all part of the church. It’s a marvelous thing. It’s a wonderful thing. Well, I hope that this lesson
has given you some insights into the Christian lifestyle and will help you in your
daily walk with the Lord whether you are just beginning or you’ve been with him for many years. This is the last lesson in this series, Christianity for Beginnings. I want to change everybody
for participating, thank those who are watching
online, I appreciate that. If you want more Bible studies, I remind you to go to
bibletalk.tv, our website. And on that website,
you will find sermons, other series, devotional, books, articles, all kinds of resources that are free to help you not only grow your faith but also to share your faith with others. All right, that’s the lesson. Thank you very much for your attention.

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