Author: C.E. Orr
“In imitation of the Holy One who has called you; you also must be holy in all your habits of life.” I Pet. 1:15 (Weymouth)
Dear friend: I want to have a few moment’s talk with you about the Christian life. There are many people who know much about the sporting life, the professional life, the political life, the commercial life, the social life, but not so many, we fear, fully understand the Christian life.
Most every one believes in an eternity. They believe also that in eternity there is a place called heaven, where people will be forever happy. Few, indeed are the people who do not desire to go to heaven when done with the things of this life. I met one man, however, who said he did not want to go to heaven, but there are very few who get in such a hardened state.
Think for a moment what it will be to gain heaven; the very extreme of happiness forever. Think what it will be to miss heaven; the very extreme of wretchedness forever. Thousands of people will miss it, but shall it be you and I? Our getting to heaven depends upon the life we live here. If I owned the whole world I would rather lose it all than to miss heaven. But, except we live the true Christian life, this beautiful happy, eternal heaven will never be ours.
THE STATE OF THE SINNER
Before saying more about the Christian life, let us talk awhile about the state of the sinner. There are, we all well know, different states or conditions in which people can be. Some of these states are very exalted and blessed, while others are low and deplorable. There is a state of man which the Bible terms sinful. All sinners, from the chief to the least, are in this sinful state. Some sinners have descended lower into the depths of sin than others, and are, therefore, in a more deplorable condition, yet all who sin are in a sinful state.
All who are thus conditioned are estranged from God. This should be sufficient, if no more were said, to make all feel the deplorable situation of a one in sin, estrangement, or a stranger to God. When the judgment day is set and all mankind is gathered before a just God, He is going to say these soul-despairing words to all in sin, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Estrangement has “strange” as its root word. To be an unknown stranger to God in the great judgment day will be a fearful thing.
Allow us to turn aside from our subject at this point to notice for a moment the difference between those in a sinful state and those in a state of righteousness. The former are strangers to God; the latter are strangers to the world. To the sinner God says, “I do not know you.” To the Christian the world says, “I do not know you.” I would rather be unknown by the world than to be unknown by the Lord.
The inspired writer of the Ephesians’ epistle (2:12) says to those who were once in sin, “Ye were without Christ.” (More accurately “Separate from Christ.”) We note again the distinction between the sinner and the Christian. The one is “separate from Christ,” the other is “separate from the world.” The distinction between those who are ready for heaven and those who are not, is so clear that none need be deceived.
The apostle Paul says further of the unregenerate that “they are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.” Christians are the spiritual Israel of today. The unrighteous have no part in the blessed privileges and glorious prospects of the righteous. Furthermore, the sinful man is a foreigner to the promises of God. The promises in the Bible are from a kind Heavenly Father to His children and not to sinners. The promise to the sinner is salvation if he will repent. Still further it is said of those in their sins that they have “no hope.” Their state can be changed, but in a sinful state there is no hope.
Yet once more it is said that sinners are “without God in the world.” Literally godless. Oh, what depth of wretchedness to be in such a state. It is not surprising to often hear the ungodly saying, “I wish I never had been born.” I, too, would rather never have been born than to be “without God in the world.” There is a wide difference between the sinner and the Christian. The sinner is darkness, while the Christian is light. Every sinful life makes this world darker. Every righteous life makes the world brighter. Which life are you living?
THE SECRET OF CHRISTIAN LIVING
Because some do not make success in certain undertakings does not prove that success in such an undertaking is impossible. We should not be discouraged because some others have failed. A small boy undertook a certain task and failed. Another boy of equal size, standing by, saw the cause of the first boy’s failure. He profited by the failure and made a success. Many a person has raised the monument of victory on the ruins of another’s defeat. I hope to aid you in living a Christian life by pointing out some reasons why others have failed.
In talking with people about the Christian life, we hear expressions oftentimes like these: “I cannot live as I would like to live.” “I do many things which I know I ought not to do.” One man said, “I have been trying with all the energy of my being for 20 years to live a true and right life, but I have miserably failed. I have sinned more or less every day.”
Many sincere hearts are hungering for a higher, holier, nobler life. There is something in the nature of man that demands a life that is true and right, but alas, how many are failing to find that which meets that demand?
It affords me inexpressible joy to be able to tell you that we can always think that which is true and do that which is right, and that there is a Holy Power which we can possess in our own life that will enable us, not as a mere machine, but as a volitional person, to do from the heart that which is true and right. Thank God. We can live as the great Author of Life intended us to live. Each evening as we rest our head upon our pillow, we can have the blessed consciousness that our life that day has met all the purpose and expectation of our Maker, and met the demands of our own nature. There is no sweeter life on earth than this. It is a heavenly life. It is the Christian life. You are eager to know how to live such a life and I am eager to tell you.
You will agree with me when I say that in all the undertakings of life two things are necessary to success: First, beginning right; second, keeping right. If we begin right and then keep right, we will end right. The difficulty with the greater portion of those who cannot live right is because they did not begin right. Many of those who do evil while they desire to do good refer us to Paul’s experience. Paul did have such an experience, but it was because he had not begun right. Later he went back to the beginning and started right. From that time on he lived so holy, justly and blamelessly that when he came down to the closing hour of life he said, “I have fought a good fight; I have kept the faith; I am ready.”
All men and women who sin “more or less every day” are sinners. That is the way sinners live. If a bush bears sour grapes “more or less” every year, do we call it a fig tree? The only way to live a true Christian life is to become a Christian. You cannot live like Christ except you get the life of Christ within you.
HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN
I stand before a class of boys holding on a leaf an ugly-looking creature. I ask them, “What is it?” They answer:”It is a caterpillar.” “Are you certain it is not a butterfly,” I ask. “It is nothing like a butterfly,” they answer. “It is a caterpillar.” I put this ugly-looking worm into a showcase. A little later, holding something before the boys, I ask, “What is this?” “It is a cocoon,” they reply. “What is a cocoon?” I ask. “It is a covering spun by a caterpillar.” “There is a dead caterpillar inside.” I place this cocoon back into the showcase. A few days later, standing before the boys holding an object up to view, I ask, “Who can tell what this is?” They answer in a breath, “That is a butterfly.” “Are you certain,” I question, “that it is not a caterpillar?” “Certainly it is not a caterpillar. It is a butterfly.” The boys know that a caterpillar is not a butterfly and also that a butterfly is not a caterpillar. “But,” I say to these boys, “you said awhile ago that it was a caterpillar; now you say it is not one. This is a mystery. Who can explain it?” One bright boy holds up his hand. “Well Sir, you may explain this mystery,” I say to him, “It was a caterpillar, but it died. It was in that cocoon tomb, a dead thing. The old caterpillar life passed away. Out of that death a new life came forth. It was a butterfly life. This butterfly is a new creature with a new life. All its habits, all its manner of life are entirely new.” The boy is right. He has told the story, too, of how the sinner becomes a Christian. He must die. The old life of sin must pass away. Out of that death springs forth the Christian life. The Christian is a new creation. He is as distinct from the sinner as the butterfly is from the caterpillar.
COMMUNION WITH GOD
The soul that is brought out of death into life is born of God and has sweet communion with Him. There is nothing so blessed to the Christian’s soul as the hour of prayer. There is no time spent in such thrilling delight as the time of communion with God. There are no thoughts so sweet as the thoughts of God and heaven.
The labors of life are sweetened by the exchange of a few words with God amid our toil. How delightful it is to turn our hearts to Him and feel the touch of His love upon our inward being when we waken to the new day or lay ourselves down for the sleep of the night. Is this true in your life?
If this blessed communion has not entered into your daily life, strengthening you for duty and making your life a delight, you are not realizing the best possibilities of the human life.
THE CHANGED LIFE
The Christian life is a changed life. There is no change in nature so marked and definite. The changing of winter into summer; of night into day; of sickness into health; of blindness into sight; of the grain into a living plant, is less distinctive than the conversion of a soul from sin into grace. True we look upon the same form and face, but the old life is gone and a new life is created. He is a new creation. Old things, the old life, is passed away and all things have become new. It is a passing from death to life; a transition from darkness to light; a translation from Satan’s kingdom into the Kingdom of Christ.
The Christian life is the life of Christ in a human life. “I live,” says Paul, “yet not I, but it is Christ that lives in me.” Oh, how very much this means. The Christian can say in truth, “Christ lives in me. The life I live is not mine but Christ’s.” He does not bear witness in word only, but his daily walk is a living testimony to the same. Is this true in your life? Is Christ in every act you perform?
The Christian is a revelation of the Christ. His character is the character of Christ. Jesus dwells and walks in the heart and life of the Christian. This means that He will live in him and do all things through him that He wills. He will think His thoughts in him; speak His words in him; live His life in and through him, work out His will in him.
DOES YOUR CHRISTIANITY REPRESENT WHAT IT COST?
Some things are secured only at great
cost. That we might be Christians has cost the life of the Son of God. “For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” I Pet. 1:18-19. The life of Jesus was paid for Christianity. Does your Christianity represent its true cost? THE SPIRITUAL BIRTH
“Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6. We see from the above Scriptures that one must have a spiritual birth if he would enter the Kingdom of God. Dear friend, do you have this spiritual birth? Can you say you have the Spirit of Christ? “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. 8:9).
“Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ.” II Cor. 3:3. Another translation says, “All can see that you are a letter from Christ.” The Christian is Christ’s “open letter.” His life is a message from Christ to the world. His daily walk is a genuine letter from the Saviour of men. The Christian life is written by the same Hand that wrote the New Testament and they read just alike. If you profess to be a Christian, be sure your daily life is the handwriting of Jesus. Your life in your home amid its trials and provocations should read like God’s Word. It is very confusing and discouraging to others if your life and the New Testament read differently.
The purpose of a letter is to convey the thoughts and mind of the writer. The Christian is that kind of letter. Men come to know the thoughts of God by reading the Christian’s life. He shows Christ’s patience in his patience. His life is not his life, but Christ’s life in his life. The life of a saint is a letter in which the world can read Christ’s gentleness, kindness, humility, sobriety, calmness, sympathy, love, holiness, separateness from the world and hatred of sin. Do not think this standard is too high. If you will take time to pray and seek after this life with determined effort, leaning hard on Christ’s helpful arm, it will surprise you what a wonderful and beautiful letter you can become.