Many people see Christianity as a bunch of rules and guidelines to follow. But Christianity really isn’t a religion that forces rules and laws on its followers. Yes, the Bible describes how we can honor God by choosing to live or behave in certain ways, but that’s not the whole picture.
The New Covenant
Before Jesus came, the only way that people could be “right” with God is through the sacrifice of an animal. Because God is holy, He couldn’t accept sinful people. The animal’s blood would cover the people’s sin so that God could accept them. God also gave the people lots of specific, burdensome laws they had to follow, but it wasn’t ideal. This was “the law” or Old Covenant (Old Testament).
Romans 8 explains that “what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
In the New Covenant, Jesus came as the perfect, final sacrifice; His holy blood doesn’t just cover our sins – it purifies us and makes us holy too. Instead of a list of religious rules, God’s Holy Spirit through a relationship with Jesus is our guide for how to live.
Hebrews 8 says, “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. … I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Instead of listing rules for behavior or moral conduct, Christianity is based on knowing God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Then God’s Spirit puts His laws in our minds and hearts so we know how to honor God through our actions. Living according to God’s ways isn’t a burden when we love Him, and like a good father, He directs us how to live for our own good.
That being said, the Bible does give us some specific examples about how to live as a Christian.
Go to Church Regularly
Let’s be honest. Sometimes we just don’t feel like doing things that we know we should. Attending church might be one of those things.
Hebrews 10 shares, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Clearly, we need to get together with other Christians so that we can encourage each other and stir each other to do good things. Church is one of the best places to do that. Attending church regularly helps us to grow stronger in our Christian faith and stay accountable to others.
Here’s one way to think about it: is it drama or trauma keeping you from attending church? If you miss church because you have a trauma, injury, or other serious matter, it’s understandable; but if you miss church because of drama going on, then you probably need to be at church more than ever!
Surround Yourself with Other Christians
The idea that “we become like the people we hang around with” is actually quite true. 1 Corinthians 15:33 puts it like this: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’”
Whether we associate with “good people” or “bad people,” we eventually begin to act, think and even talk like whoever we are around. That’s why it’s vital that Christians spend time with fellow Christians – especially those who are mature in their faith.
It’s important to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us to honor God with our actions and words. We can also learn spiritual truths and tips from other believers. We don’t need to avoid non-Christians, but we need to be careful about who and what are influencing us.
Read the Bible and Pray
This one seems obvious, but why is it so important to read the Bible and pray? Colossians urges, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” And 1 Thessalonians says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
The Bible advises us to earnestly and continually pray because most likely there will be times when we don’t feel like praying earnestly and continually. Notice that in both of these verses we are to pray and give thanks at the same time. Of course we don’t thank God for financial struggles or health issues, but we thank Him for what we do have, like peace and a roof over our head. If you want to make prayer part of your daily routine, start with one of these morning prayers.
Reading the Bible helps us to know who God is and how He operates. We also discover what is important to God, what He expects of us, how we should handle our money, and how we should treat others. There’s lots of practical advice throughout this holy book.
As Christians, we acknowledge Jesus as King. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Jesus was telling His followers not to worry about food, money or what they would wear.
He promised that if they sought His Kingdom first, then they would want for nothing. Loyalty to God’s Kingdom isn’t possible as a “part-time Christian.” When we put entertainment, money, success or self before God, that’s called idolatry.
God won’t share first place with another; He wants our devotion and loyalty, just like spouses want in a marriage relationship. Without getting legalistic about it, we need to be sure that God, church, and other spiritual activities are the objects of our loyalty.
The Bible has much to say about our words and the power of the tongue. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” And “neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
Both of these verses in Ephesians are clear: How we talk matters to God. We must be careful to build up, not tear down; give thanks, not speak filthy words; encourage, not talk foolishly. Words have the power to create life or death, so we must evaluate the words that are coming out of our mouths.
Lifestyle can encompass many things. Paul gave young Timothy this advice: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”
Paul was encouraging Timothy to flee the desire to get wealthy, to avoid controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, and evil suspicions, and to be careful of corrupt people.
Paul also advises believers to “flee sexual immorality,” and Ephesians instructs us to be “filled with the Spirit” rather than “drunk with wine.” Christians have a high standard of morality to aspire to.
Ephesians encourages us to “be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us.” Most children want to please their father and mother. Likewise, when we come to really know God and His character, we too want to please Him. It’s not about following rules; it’s about relationship and love.
So rather than thinking of Christianity as being a religion of rules of dos and don’ts, think of it as wanting to please our Heavenly Father by doing the things that He wants us to do. The more we get to know Him, the more He shows us how to live a full and abundant life.
~ by Jennell Houts
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