Google “Christianity” and you’ll learn that between 1.5 billion and 2.1 billion people in the world call themselves Christians. You’ll also learn that what’s known as Christianity is split into about 34,000 separate denominations. That doesn’t compute. 2 billion people would be almost 1/3 of the world’s current population. Do you think that’s true from what you’ve seen? The United States is reportedly one of the most “Christian” nations in the world with about 3/4 of the population identifying themselves as Christians. How many Christians do you meet in a week? And how about those 34,000 separate denominations that call themselves Christians? That also doesn’t compute. According to all of the Gospel accounts, Jesus intended for His followers to be “one” even as He and His Father in Heaven are “One.” How did “one” become 34,000? What’s up with that?
I think the facts speak for themselves. There are not 2 billion disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today — using Christ’s own definition of a disciple. If there were 2 billion disciples of Christ in the world, the world would have at least double that number of disciples — more like 4-5 billion Christians. 2 billion people on this planet walking like a Christian would impact at least 2 -4 billion unsaved people every day. There is no way that 3 out of 4 Americans are real disciples of Jesus Christ. If that was true, we would not have gone through the decline of morality and spirituality that has plagued this country for the last 50 years. We would be a shining example of a country with a single heart for God. And another thing — if 2 billion people were disciples of Jesus Christ, real disciples, there would not be 34,000 denominations in the world. How can Christian disciples continue to lead separate lives when the Person they call Lord and Savior commands them to be “one” even as He and His Heavenly Father are “One”? Fact is the true number of Christ’s disciples around the world is much less than what we find on the Internet.
So, what is this thing called the Christian life? What does it mean to “walk like a Christian?” We saw in Monday’s study that before we can walk like a Christian, we have to stand like a Christian. Our standing before God is based on faith in Christ’s finished work on the Cross. Jesus paid it all, did it all for us. We are able to be in right standing with God (justification) because of what Jesus did by dying for our sins. First we stand, then we walk. That’s Step 1.
Step 2 is living like a Christian — what we do every day of our lives in our service to God. Christians seem to think they have a choice in this matter of whether to live for Christ or not, but they don’t. There is no choice on our part here. God already made the choice. Jesus bought us with His Blood. We belong to God.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Paul wrote these words in the context of sexual sin with a prostitute in a culture that used prostitution in the worship of pagan gods. Sex is the uniting of two human bodies physically, mentally, and spiritually. God wants His Son’s disciples to have physical union in marriage only. In that context, Paul tells us that our body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.” Even as followers of pagan gods went to their temples to engage in unholy sex with temple prostitutes, Christians need to understand the intimate relationship they have with the Holy Spirit of God. He lives in us and we should not be united with anyone outside His Will for our lives.
Paul goes on to say that we are not our own and that we were bought at a price. What was that price? The sacrificial blood death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There is no greater price God could have paid to buy us. We are that valuable to Him. God loves us, bought us, owns us. We are His servants — His slaves.
Slaves? We’re not slaves to God. Oh no? Then what does this mean?
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” Romans 6:17-19
Some translations use the word “servant” for “slave,” but that doesn’t give us the impact of the Greek word doulos. It means “one in bondage, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, whose will is consumed in the will of the other.” This was not a free person who hired on as a servant in a household and could come and go as they pleased. This person was a slave. Paul says we are “slaves of righteousness for holiness!” Remember that right-standing we have before God? That’s the righteousness for holiness Paul wrote about. We are “slaves” of that right-standing before the Lord. Jesus paid the price for us and we belong to Him; we are His slaves.
Being a slave to Christ is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s very good. Paul reminds us that we were slaves to sin – slaves of uncleanness – slaves of lawlessness. Now we are now slaves of righteousness. I’ll make that trade any day of the week! Christians definitely get the better side of that deal. Look at what happens to slaves of righteousness versus slaves of sin.
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” Romans 6:20-22
The end of slavery to sin is death. The end of slavery to God is everlasting life. Nice exchange wouldn’t you say?
Once we understand that God owns us, that we are slaves of God, living the Christian life becomes simple. God says it – we do it. That’s discipleship in a nutshell. What is it that God wants us to do? Paul gives it to us straight.
“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
God’s will for us is our sanctification. Big word — what does it mean? The Greek is hagiasmos, which means “set apart for holy service.” People in Thessalonica and other parts of the Gentile world would have quickly understood Paul’s use of the word. Something that was “sanctified” had been set apart for usage in the pagan temples and was dedicated to the “needs” of the gods (as if pieces of wood and stone could have needs). Jews would also understand the word because of things set apart for sacred service to God in the Hebrew Temple.
There you have it – God’s will for our lives. What is that holy service?
- abstain from sexual immorality
- that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust
- that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter
Why is this important to God? God did not call us to uncleanness, but to holiness. A disciple of Christ is one who follows Christ closely, learns from Him and does what He says. If we’re following Christ, He won’t call us to uncleanness. He will call us to live holy lives pleasing to Him. That’s what we do every day until He calls us home – more on that Friday.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”