Principles to Live By
Many of you will remember that my favorite chapter in the Bible is John 14.
John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John 14:15-18 If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Two great promises to help us live above the circumstances of every day life.
My Second favorite Chapter is Romans 8.
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. This is my favorite verse!
Rom 8:14-18 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Rom 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
All very good passages, all very precious to me. But the chapter that has had the biggest influence on the way I live my life is II Cor. 5. Today I want to share with you some of the principles that guided the Apostle Paul’s life, and should be incorporated into the lives of every believer.
Look at II Cor. 5:6-20.
:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
:12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
:13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.
:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
- Live To Be Accepted of Him (V8-9)
II Cor 5:8-9 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
I want to live my life in such a way to be accepted of him. This is the #1 goal of my life. God said of His Son: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This is what I want Him to think about me! And to do that, we have to live a life of obedience. As we learned in John 14, Love = Obedience. And, you always want to please those whom you love: Spouse, Parents, Pastor. So, we should make pleasing Him the #1 priority in our life. That means that we must put more value on pleasing God than pleasing self, or pleasing others. This principle will permeate all areas of our life: our time, our finances, and our relationships. God is Holy, and if we are to be accepted of him, we must live a holy lifestyle, submissive to His Word and to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
- Live As Though I Will Be Judged by Him (V10)
II Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
This is not referring to the Great White Throne judgment where sinners will be judged. This is referring to the judgment seat of Christ where believers will either receive rewards for the good things they have done, or will suffer loss for the bad things we have done. Although scripture is not specifically clear as to what these rewards and loss will be, it is clear that everyone will be stand before the Lord and give an account of our life.
Because God is Holy, His standard is holiness. God will judge all of our actions by fire and determine if it is wood, hay, and stubble that will be burned up (worthless); or gold, silver, precious stones that will stand up to the test.
Also, we must be mindful that God will judge our motives and our attitudes, those rooms in our heart that may not be open to the public eye. God knows not only what we do, but why we do it. Our motives must be pure, holy, and God-centered to be acceptable to Him.
- Our Life Influences Others (V11-13)
II Cor 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
II Cor 5:12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
II Cor 5:13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.
Paul was clear that he lived his life for your cause. We must have an eye as to how our actions and words will impact others. Even your faithfulness and unfaithfulness speak volumes! Faithfulness is not just for leaders, it is for every believer. Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. If you are not faithful to attend church, you can pretty much guarantee that you will not be faithful in other things: Bible study, praying, witnessing. We need to understand that even our presence in the church services is an encouragement to the Pastor. And if you are not an encouragement, you are a stumbling block. Rom 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. Being a stumbling block is serious business.
Why is this so important? Because we know the terror of the Lord. We understand that hell is a real place, and a broad road leads there. Unless we persuade people to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, they will spend eternity in torments and flame.
- Remember What He Has Done (V14)
II Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
II Cor 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
If Jesus loved me enough to die for me, the least I can do is live my life for Him. Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Every time I think about this, and think that I can stand before Christ without condemnation, I am amazed and awestruck. As a result of experiencing this love, it constrains (limits) the things that I can participate in. Often we have to decide between things that are “good” and things that are “best.” Some things are not inherently bad, but in order to avoid even the appearance of evil, we have to forgo that liberty. Rom 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. Liberty is not a license! I Cor. 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
- He Made Us a New Creation (V17)
II Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
As a new creature, the old man things are passed away. Know this: we produce fruit consistent with the spirit that is within us. We will either manifest the works of the flesh:
Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Or we will manifest the fruit of the Spirit:
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
If you are a born-again believer, you are a new creature. Your life must manifest this. Sin in the life of a believer is different from sin in an unbeliever: it is much worse! It is worse because you are sinning against love, and opening yourself up to God’s chastisement, which is not pleasant. Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous. You can be sure that God will correct His children.
- He Has Given Us a Ministry (V18-19)
II Cor 5:18-19 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
In God’s divine wisdom, He designed a plan whereby men could be forgiven for their sins and reconciled to a Holy God. That in itself is amazing, but he also designed that this plan be communicated by man. He did not choose to use angels, or to shout out in one big booming voice; He chose to give this ministry to those who love Him. And unless we are faithful to carry out this ministry, people will not be reconciled to God, and will have to spend eternity in hell, separated from God and His influence. This ministry is something that we must own. It is not the church’s ministry; not the pastor’s ministry; it is my ministry, and I must be about the Master’s work.
- He Made Us His Ambassador (V20)
II Cor 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Wearing the “Christian” name means that we are representing Christ in everything we do. Everything we do will either build up or tear down the reputation of Jesus Christ, and people are watching. Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Often the world sets a higher standard for the Christian than the church does. We must take seriously the fact that we are called to be in the world, but not of the world.
Conclusion & Invitation:
What about you? What kind of ambassador are you? What are you doing to persuade men? Maybe you do not know what Christ has done for you. Maybe you have never accepted the forgiveness that is offered to you. Today you can know the Love of Christ.