If God has called you to be a Christian, how should you live? (If you are wondering about your calling Are You Being Called by God?)
How should Christians live? Real Christians.
This can be a complicated subject and perhaps it takes more than a lifetime to truly know, but this article will try to address many, but by no means all, practical points for the how, and a few points as to why.
Christians should live as Jesus did (John 13:15; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 John 2:6) and accept all He commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus encouraged people to live His way:
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV throughout unless otherwise designated)
He also taught warnings that there would be difficulties, but He would bring peace:
3 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
In the New Testament, Christians were considered so different from the world they lived in, that there mode of life was referred to as “the Way" (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 24:14,22) and more derisively, "the Way they call a sect” (Acts 24:14) or "cult" (Acts 24:14, New Living Translation).
The world itself lives selfishly, under Satan’s sway, in what has been called “the way of Cain” (Jude 11).
Christians are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God and put our hope in the spiritual, not the physical, though we live in a physical world (Romans 8:5-8).
The Apostle Peter wrote to Christians:
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Peter 2:1-3)
Christians need the pure milk of the word, but many who profess Christ do not know much about what that means.
(A related video is available and is titled Living as a Christian: Pure Milk of the Word.)
Real Christians are those who have the Spirit of God, believe the Bible, try to walk as Jesus walked, keep the commandments, and understand and practice love.
Real Christians have the Holy Spirit of God:
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:9-11).
Here is something the Apostle Peter taught about being given the Holy Spirit:
38 "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39)
Real Christians hear the gospel message, accept that they have sinned and need God, have repented of their sins, accept God's calling, declare and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, have been properly baptized, and possess God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:39; Romans 8:9-11).
This recipt of God's Holy Spirit makes true Christians the 'temple of God' (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) and Christians need to live accordingly.
God knows who His own are:
9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God (Galatians 4:9)
3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him (1 Corinthians 8:2-3).
11...we are well known to God (2 Corinthians 5:11)
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins (Luke 1:77).
Thus, it is God who truly knows who the real Christians are.
Real Christians keep the commandments and strive to walk as Jesus Christ walked:
4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:4-6).
Most religions that profess Christ, however, chose to walk a different way than Jesus did (see also What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments? and Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants).
Jesus also taught:
35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
Most religions, however, that profess Christ chose to allow warfare and other activities that do not show love to one's neighbor (Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?).
Love, not war, is what life is supposed to be all about (see also What is the Meaning of Life?).
Christians know the basic doctrines of the church as laid out in Hebrews 6:
1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2)
Plus, they practice the Way that the apostles advocated (cf. Acts 24:14). (More on the doctrines of Hebrews 6 are in the article Elementary Doctrines of the Church: Hebrews 6.)
For loving as Jesus taught, Christians will be hated and persecuted:
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.' (John 15:16-25)
(For more details on persecution see Persecutions by Church and State and/or the video The Coming Persecution of the Church.)
Not all the troubles will come from the broader 'world.' Family and friends could be problems as well. Notice that Jesus taught about family issues, followed by something by the Apostle Peter:
35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:35-39)
4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:4)
This does not mean you are not to honor your parents (cf. Matthew 15:4-6) or try to cause trouble--we are to strive "to live peacably with all men" (Romans 12:18). Jesus and Peter are basically saying that those who are converted may face difficulties with family and friends. Notice something else from Jesus and Peter, followed by something from the Apostle Paul:
16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. (Matthew 10:16-17)
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:15-17)
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. (2 Timothy 2:15-16)
When dealing with those not in the church, as well as in it, Christians need to be wise and try not to harm. And Christians should study in order to answer questions others may ask. Not that we are to try to cram our religion down the throat of others, but that we humbly answer those that are sincere. We, however, should try to avoid unnecessary arguments (Matthew 7:6; 1 Timothy 1:4).
Jesus also warned:
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
And doing what we are supposed to do as Christians shows that we have faith. And it is not easy.
22 ... Have faith in God (Mark 11:22).
Apparently there were heretical people in the time of the apostles who did not believe that they had to do anything and that their faith was sufficient. But notice what James told them:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:14-20)
Perhaps the above is why Martin Luther criticized this book (see Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?).
Throughout history, there have been true Christians, just as Jesus prophesied (Matthew 16:16; Revelation 2 & 3).
Real Christians lived differently than most who professed Christ and they were often persecuted for it (Persecutions by Church and State).
Real Christians understand Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:
5:1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
31 "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
33 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:1-48)
6:1 "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. (Matthew 6:1-4)
This affects Christians at work, at school, and home and all the time. They are not only Christians when they attend church services. They try not to live as hypocrites. Nor do they view pornography, engage in fornication or homosexuality, or live a life of hate.
Real Christians have the right priorities and seek first the Kingdom of God.
25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Seeking first the Kingdom of God means that real Christians do not compromise God's law for business, family, lust, or other purposes.
Consider that the Apostle Paul wrote:
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people."
"Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you."
18 'I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Real Christians are not to marry those who are not real Christians--meaning real Church of God Christians. Experience has also shown this does not work out well spiritually.
Paul's admonition is also a warning against various types of business and other partnerships. Plus it is a warning against improper ecumenism.
Real Christians pray and the Bible teaches this (Matthew 6:5-7). In modern times it has been suggested that Christians should strive to pray at least thirty minutes per day, although the Bible itself does not specify an amount of time. Yet when it teaches, "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), this suggests some amount of regular prayer. Christians should pray (see also Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?).
Christians should meditate on God's laws and His way of life (Psalm 19:4). The truth is that God is love (1 John 4:8,15 ) and NOT selfish. God’s laws show love towards God and our neighbor (Mark 12:29-31; James 2:8-11). The ways of the world are selfish and end in death (Romans 8:6). Christians realize keeping God's laws and commandments show love and they are not burdensome:
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.(1 John 5:2-3)
Real Christians read the Bible (those who could read) and the more honorable ones daily (Acts 17:11; Ephesians 6:17). In modern times it has been suggested that Christians should strive to pray at least thirty minutes per day. Although, again, the Bible itself does not specify
The New Testament teaches, "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches" (Galatians 6:6). Real Christians tithe (Matthew 23:23; see also Tithing Questions and Some Answers). And there are multiple tithes (Is Third Tithe Still Valid Today?). As far to how to calculate tithes, basically they are on income. In my view, net income after taxes as the income recipient has essentially no choice but to pay the taxes, which is something else that Christians should do (see also Taxes). Christians also give offerings, including on the biblical holy days (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). People who are not givers are not real Christians. Consider also, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). NOTE: Let me add here that I, Bob Thiel, do NOT take a salary from the Continuing Church of God, so I am NOT telling people to give so that I can have. It is in one's spiritual best interest to give, and if one is not doing that, then one is not truly living as a Christian.
Jesus was approached by a wealthy one who claimed to be committed to Him, but his attachment to owning wealth was too strong for him (Matthew 19:16-22). But poor and middle class people have problems with this too. Many do not have the faith to believe:
9 Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
8 "Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
'In what way have we robbed You?'
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,"
Says the Lord of hosts,
"If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:8-10)
Jesus said His disciples would fast (Mark 2:20). And while all who can are basically required to fast once per year on the Day of Atonement, historically the Church of God has suggested that once per month is a good goal for fasting--though this frequency is not specified in scripture (see also Importance of Fasting).
Real Christians avoid eating biblically unclean meats (Leviticus 11:4-8,10-19,24-30; Deuteronomy 14:3,7-8.10,12-19). Because of this, some have been killed by Greco-Romans who profess Christianity (see The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats).
Speaking of foods, God tells His people to "eat what is good" (Isaiah 55:2), thus Christians should be careful about their diets and not eat that which is not good for them. Nor should Christians smoke cigarettes or cigars or pipes or marijuana (see Should Christians Smoke?).
Real Christians are not dishonest at work or school. They do not lie or cheat. They do not go along with sin in organizations. Christians do not read horoscopes, practice witchcraft, or see fortune tellers (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10) (see also OMENS? DIVINATION? HOROSCOPES? THE ORIGIN OF ASTROLOGY). It should be pointed out that while many astrologers and those who follow astrology claim to be Christian, that is not true. For detailed information about this, please check out the article The Bible and Astrology and/or watch the video Should Christians Be Involved In Astrology?.
Real Christians do not have idols in their homes, wear "lucky charms," etc. (see also What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?).
Real Christians are not to have "filthy communications" come out of their mouths (Colossians 3:8).
Christians are to properly teach and bring up their children (1 Thessalonians 2:11; Ephesians 6:1; 1 Timothy 3:4,12; 5:4,10,14; Titus 1:6; 2:4; see also Five Rules for Effective Parenting, there is also a 12 1/2 minute YouTube video on this, also titled Five Rules for Effective Parenting).
Christian women should not have short masculine hair styles and Christian men should not have long feminine hairstyles (Veils and Other Coverings). Since pagan priests tended to totally shave their heads, this does not seem to be a proper regular practice for Christian men (Leviticus 19:27; 21:5) (see also Monk shaving, history, and the Bible).
Christians do not get drunk or participate in improper revelries, and this can make them unpopular with those who previously considered them to be friends as the Apostle Peter wrote:
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:1-4)
So, Christians are subject to be talked about badly for doing what is right. The Apostle Peter also wrote:
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. (1 Peter 4:12-14)
Thus, negative consequences from the world for being a Christian is expected. Real Christians realize this, yet continue. They under Jesus' admonition:
21 "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:21-26)
(See also Persecutions by Church and State.)
Should you observe God’s Holy Days or demonic holidays?
Most who profess Christ keep holidays with demonic ties (for some details, see the free online booklet Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).
Yet, real Christians do not observe religious pagan holidays (see our free online booklet Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?) or generally (some may not know about this) birthdays (Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays?).
This can make them unpopular with some of their neighbors, co-workers, employers, and/or families. Remember that Jesus said:
34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)
Real Christians observe the biblical holy days (Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? and Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).
Observing Passover on the 14th as faithful Christians do risked the death penalty as Roman (Catholic) Emperor Theodosius decreed in the late fourth century (see also Persecutions by Church and State). So can you handle verbal persecution? Pray that you can.
Real Christians prepare for the Passover each year by examining themselves (2 Corinthians 13:5; see also Examine Yourself before Passover There are also YouTube video sermons you may wish to see such as Passover Examination. and Preparing for Passover). They also remove leaven from their homes and eat unleavened bread for seven days each year while trying to total avoid consuming any leaven during that time (see Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).
Christians keep the Feast of Pentecost and Feast of Trumpets.
Christians observe the Day of Atonement and those who can fast that day by completely abstaining from food and drink (those with health concerns, nursing mothers, small children, etc. normally do not). This is difficult for various ones as some get headaches and others have other issues with fasting. In terms of other difficulties, I was almost put in jail once because I was going to not go to work on the Day of Atonement (I was in the military at the time; see Who is COGwriter?).
Christians observe the Feast of Tabernacles which normally involves traveling out of one's region. This can cause problems for employees, business owners, students, and parents.
Christians keep the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday each week. This has cost various people their job and sometimes resentment from co-workers. Keeping the Sabbath also means no regular shopping on that day. On the other hand, I do believe that the Bible allows for eating out when traveling or spending for some emergency (like going to a hospital), and there are other exceptions. But in some societies not being able to shop on Saturday is difficult as there are Sunday shopping restrictions in many places.
The Sabbath commandment also includes the command to work, and Christians understand that they are to work if they wish to eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) and are not to be busybodies (2 Thessalonians 3:11).
Also, because the time for sunset changes, especially in areas far from the equator, some of us have had to get off of work early on Fridays in the Winter. Also, keeping the Sabbath means no participating in activities like sports on the Sabbath. The focus is to be on the things of God and not doing one's pleasure (cf. Isaiah 58:13-14).
While many of these seem difficult and some may be hard to understand (cf. 2 Peter 3:16), Christians truly accept:
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
Christians do so because they have faith, not only that God exists, but that His ways are best and will have the best results in the end:
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
This differentiates real Christians from demons and others who, while they believe God exists (James 2:19), they really will not live as He teaches.
There are two ways of life--God's and Satan's (see also The Two Trees: Only Two Ways of Life). God's way is the way of give.
So, we have now covered some of the 'milk of the word' (1 Peter 2:2) about being a real Christian.
But you may be thinking, this seems too much. Being a real Christian affects my whole life.
And that is true.
But that is what God wants. It takes faith (see also Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen).
The Apostle Paul wrote to "put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11). Notice what else he taught:
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17)
Being crucified with Christ shows a total commitment. This is real faith. This is part of how real Christians differ from nominal ones.
The Apostle Paul also wrote:
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Christians have faith that the way of life that is laid out in the Bible will lead to what is best. Many do not have faith to truly believe that all things are working together for good.
And now we are transitioning from the milk of the word to stronger meat:
2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it (1 Corinthians 3:2)
Part of the reason that the Bible teaches total immersion via baptism is to help show that this is a total, not partial commitment (for details, see Baptism and the Early Church and All About Water Baptism).
Notice what Jesus taught:
27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:27-33)
People need to count the cost before becoming Christian and hopefully this article will help many realize some of that cost, but also that it is well worth it (cf. Romans 8:18).
Something that is very important, that most will not really do, and no one does perfectly, is:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Christians are to truly love God and their neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40) and that takes truly following Christ's way of life.
But you might say, all I have to do is believe. Well the demons believe (James 2:14-20) and Jesus said that just claiming Him was not enough:
21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23)
Faith is important (see the booklet Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen and/or watch the video Faith for the Called and Chosen). But notice also what the Apostle Paul wrote:
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
In the early 2nd century, Ignatius of Antioch taught about love, character, and Christ living His life in Christians:
…the believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in readiness to die into His passion, His life is not in us. (Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter 5. Roberts & Donaldson, Anti-Nicene Fathers)
While the Bible mentions that developing character is important for Christians (Romans 5:4; Philippians 2:22), here is some of what Herbert Armstrong taught about it:
So mark well this super-vital truism - that perfect, holy and righteous character is the supreme feat of accomplishment possible for Almighty God the Creator - it is also the means to His ultimate supreme purpose. His final objective.
But how?...such perfect character must be developed. It requires the free choice and decision of the separate entity in whom it is to be created. But, further, even then it must be instilled by and from the Holy God who, only, has such righteous character to endow.
Perfect, holy and righteous character is the ability in such separate entity to come to discern the true and right way from the false, to make voluntarily a full and unconditional surrender to God and His perfect way - to yield to be conquered by God - to determine even against temptation or self-desire, to live and to do the right. And even then such holy character is the gift of God. It comes by yielding to God to instill His law (God's right way of life) within the entity who so decides and wills.
Actually, this perfect character comes only from God, as instilled within the entity of His creation, upon voluntary acquiescence, even after severe trial and test...
God made us in His image, after His likeness (form and shape), only composed of matter instead of Spirit. But God says, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5). (Armstrong HW. The Incredible Human Potential, pp. 39-40, 52)
In other words, because those called of God will strive to live according to His law, they will have tests and trials that will build the type of “character” (Romans 5:1-4, NJB/NKJV) (δομκιή), which could be considered a type of “testimony of our conscience” (2 Corinthians 1:12, RNT), that God wants his children to be possess.
Notice what else the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:
The human spirit of itself cannot see, hear, think or know. The only real LIFE, inherent and self-containing, lies in the Holy Spirit of God, united with the human spirit…At death, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7). The spirit is the depository of memory and character. The spirit is like a mold. It retains even the human form and shape of the deceased, so that in the resurrection to judgment those who have died shall look as they did in life, retain whatever character they established in life, remember everything that was stored in their memory. But in the meantime, in death, there is no consciousness--they "know not any thing" (Eccl. 9:5)…
We shall inherit the kingdom at Christ's coming. The dead in Christ shall be resurrected, rising first--changed to Spirit immortality…
We build go through the tests and trials in life to build character for the resurrection. The Apostle Paul wrote:
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)
Thus, Christians basically should be pitied for the way they are supposed to live if there is no resurrection. By since there is, notice what else the Apostle Paul wrote:
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)
In other words, the Apostle Paul is teaching that living the Christian way of life is more than worth it.
Jesus promised to have a special place for each Christian and taught all would be rewarded according to their works, as did the Apostle Paul:
2 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2, NAS)
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:24-27)
8...each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:8)
Christians are to live a different way of the life than the world. The Bible also refers to this as "the Way" (Acts 24:14,22) or "the way of the Lord" (Acts 18:25). It is also called "the way of truth" (2 Peter 2:2) and "the way of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:22). Peter also wrote:
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Peter 2:2)
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, (2 Peter 1:2-3)
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18)
The Christian life is not static. We are to grow in grace and knowledge. Notice also:
14 Wise people store up knowledge, (Proverbs 10:14)
Such knowledge comes from the word of God and sermons, etc. from it (Romans 10:14-17).
Christians are to know the Bible and the truth which sets us apart from the false Babylonian world system that Satan deceives (cf. Revelation 12:9):
31 "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)
16...They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:16-17)
Christians are granted the "love of the truth" so they will not be deceived as others will be (2 Thessalonians 2:7-14).
More on character is covered in the article Building Character: Going on to Perfection; a related video sermon is available: Going on to perfection and building character.
Some, especially those with a Protestant background may be thinking that all of this sounds like doing works to earn salvation.
But it is not.
No one can earn their own salvation:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
But notice the next verse:
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
So, while no one can earn their salvation, Christians are expected to have the type of works that God requires.
And Christians are to be humble about this:
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
A true follower of God does justly and loves mercy. Christians are saved, not because of their works, but because of God's grace and mercy. Notice also:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
It is through God's mercy that He sent His son to die for our sins.
Many believe that they can be partial Christians.
They believe that as long as they believe and they do only parts of what God wants, that God will understand.
It is true that God will understand. He will understand that you do not really love Him as you should. Notice also the following:
37..."'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)
Purposeful disobedience is condemned in the Bible:
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)
(See also What is the Unpardonable Sin?)
Partial disobedience is also condemned:
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:8-13)
Christians strive to love God and their neighbor, try not to purposely disobey any of God's commands, and are aware, however, of God's mercy.
This does not mean that Christians never sin as the following shows:
1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 1:8-2:1)
But it should not be deliberate and we should confess our sins to God as the above shows.
The Bible teaches:
31 If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
But is important for us to be on God's side.
We are to imitate Jesus Christ as the Apostle Paul wrote:
1 1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
And while many think that they try to do that, understand that God expects His people to truly be on His side:
13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?"
14 So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come."
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?" (Joshua 5:13-14)
Joshua was clearly chosen by God (Numbers 27:18), but notice that even he had to be told he was to be on God's side. It is being on God's side, living His way, that puts God more on our side.
Christians are to be on God's side. Sometimes that causes problems with those in other faiths.
Does that mean to compromise then?
What should we do then?
Recall that Jesus taught:
44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)
Have the faith (see also Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen) to live as a Christian and pray (see also Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?).
Consider also what the Apostle James was inspired to write:
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:26-27)
Self-control, doing good, and not compromising with the world is something that real Christians are to do.
The Bible shows that there are different types of Christians in the end time (cf. Revelation 3). Here is what Jesus said to the Philadelphia Christians:
7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": 8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
13 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' (Revelation 3:7-13)
Philadelphia means "love of brethren" or "fond of brethren." Philadelphians show this love by being concerned enough about others to work to fulfill Matthew 24:14 and other scriptures.
Jesus gave the Philadelphians an open door--this means a door to proclaim the gospel (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9; Colossians 4:2-4). Proclaiming the gospel, working to fulfill Matthew 24:14, and being faithful are all characteristics of Philadelphian Christians.
Unlike other Christians, Jesus promises the Philadelphians physical protection from the "hour of trial" (Revelation 3:10), the Great Tribulation (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
Christians live God's way of life on the earth. Some of the details this article went through may seem difficult, and yes, they are at times. And yes, there are probably others that I should have included, but hope that this overview will help those who read this.
The reality is that real Christians are to live differently than the world does. This helps them build character so that God will use them later in His kingdom. Christians will be rewarded according to their works (Matthew 16:27; 1 Corinthians 3:8).
We are to live as ambassadors of Jesus Christ and the gospel of God's coming kingdom:
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ...(2 Corinthians 5:20)
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:17-20)
This means we live differently than the world:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
2...Babylon...4...Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
As ambassadors, Christians do not participate in secular juries nor vote in worldly politics (see also Should a Christian Vote?).
Christians will reign with Jesus:
9...You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9-10)
6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:4-5)
And the good news is that Jesus will return and will usher in a time that ultimately will result:
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:3-4)
And that is part of the good news of being a Christian as we reign with Christ in that Kingdom.
Will you truly live this way of life?
A related video is available and is titled Living as a Christian: Pure Milk of the Word.
Thiel B. Living as a Christian: How and Why? (c) www.cogwriter.com 2013/2014/2015/2016 1231
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Christian Success Does the Bible teach that Christians are to be successful? Are there at least seven laws of success that Christians should follow? How does the Bible teach we are to become successfully spiritually? Does the Bible really teach that Christians should be successful physically? This video answers these questions and more from the Bible.