Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at God’s right hand. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
Let’s Live to Honor God
Scottie Scheffler is a pro golfer and in April 2022 he won the Masters Championship. Scheffler is fiercely competitive, but golf isn’t his top priority in life; Jesus is. Scottie plays golf to glorify God and thank the Lord for all that Christ has done for him. His wife reminded Scheffler, “If you win or lose any tournament, even if you never play again, Jesus still loves and saves you. He still protects and provides for you, so the most important things never change.”1
No matter how we succeed or fail, our value, meaning, and identity are not tangled up in our wins and losses. Our identity and destiny come through Christ our King and walking with Him. The Apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.2 Scottie Scheffler would agree.
This post builds on our previous post Remaining and Abiding in Christ (Part 1).
Last time we saw: We must remember that God the Father is the Divine Gardener who gives life and we must commit to trusting and obeying Him.
Let’s Keep on Resting Our Soul, Our Life, Our All on Jesus Who Laid down His Life for Us
Scripture says: This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins….To all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become God’s children….I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I consider other things garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, but God’s righteousness that comes through faith in Christ. (1 John 4:10; John 1:12; Phil 3:8-9)
Remaining in Christ means that we never stop relying on Jesus’ “cross love” and the Holy Spirit who pours that love into our hearts. It means we dwell, live, and continue in Him, as He dwells, lives, and continues in us (His followers). Abiding in Jesus is the opposite of backsliding away from Him. If we are not as close to God as we used to be, guess who moved? Backsliding never begins with a loud bang. It begins quietly, slowly, subtly, insidiously.3 Here’s why it’s so important to pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to remain in fellowship with Jesus.
R. C. Sproul says that self-reliance and Christian discipleship cannot coexist in Jesus’ followers. We always need Christ’s spiritual strength for Christian growth and for defeating Satan’s daily temptations. However, believers can go through our day acting as if we are living by our own power. Frequent and regular prayer helps us remain aware of our need for Jesus and remember our total dependence upon Him. Scripture teaches that our Heavenly Father ordains hard things for us so that we don’t rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.4 Christ says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”5
I often pray: “Lord help me to follow close to you because your right hand holds on to me.”6 You may want to pray a similar prayer.
Let’s Submit to God’s Pruning Knife in His Hard Providences
Jesus says: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that we will be even more fruitful….This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples….Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless. (John 15:1-2; Dan 11:35)
The Book of Hebrews says the same: Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!…God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.7
Jesus followers go through trials and troubles, dangerous and difficult times. But the Lord is not penalizing us; He is pruning us. The Father is cutting away all disloyalty, disobedience, things that hinder us, and the sin that so easily entangles, to help us remain in Christ and walk with Him more wholeheartedly.
To repeat, God will never damn Jesus’ believers!
- Christ Himself took up our pain and bore our suffering on the cross
- God punished His Son in our place once for all
- Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and crushed because of our sins
- The punishment that brought us peace with God was placed on Christ
- By Jesus’ wounds we are healed in our relationship to God
- We all were like sheep going astray, turning our own way
- But the Lord gave Christ (not us) the punishment we deserved.8
So now God the Father lovingly prunes and disciplines us to correct us, to teach us spiritual lessons, and to make us more like Christ. We should not be looking at others’ sins, but seeing and turning from our own wrongs and turning back to God. By the Holy Spirit’s blessing, that brings us the peaceful fruit of righteousness that Jesus is looking to cultivate in us.
Robert Robinson prayed:
Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let your goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to you:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for your courts above.9
To be continued
Notes (various Bible translations are used): 1 Adapted from Jon Ackerman, Sports Spectrum (4-10-22). 2 Gal 2:20. 3 Adapted from John Blanchard. 4 2 Cor 1:9. 5 John 15:5. 6 Based on Psalm 63:8 CSB. 7 Heb 12:7-11. 8 Isaiah 53:4-6. 9 From his hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”