Session 9

How then shall we live?

Saving faith calls for a response from the believer. What is the goal of a life of faith?

Next: Session 10 ... Overcoming churchianity »

Session 9 ... transcript

How then shall we live?

The Bible says: "The goal of our instruction is love" (1 Tim 1:5). Love that springs "from a pure heart of faith in Christ Jesus."

Love is the goal ... the ultimate end.

If I understand this correctly, then the Bible is saying we don't have real love when we start out, but God intends to make it real and strong in each one of us. Perhaps He's not going to be satisfied until it's accomplished.

The Bible says: Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Fruit grows.

The Bible says: We are being transformed into the image of Jesus. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Jesus is the love of God manifested.

Jesus sacrificed Himself. Jesus came, not to be served ... not to serve Himself ... but to serve us. He laid down His life.

God wants to turn us into people filled with compassion for others, and wanting their ultimate good.

It's in not loving our own lives, even to the point of being willing to give up our lives, that we bring life to others. It's the seed that falls to the ground and dies, that brings forth much fruit. The dying that is called for is us dying to self.

Before He went to the cross, Jesus said to His disciples: "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you ... (John 13:34).

It wasn't a suggestion. God is going to do what He needs to do. And we have a part to play.

It hardly needs to be said: Some people are not easy to love. But, we have no option. We are commanded to love others. And if people are offensive, we have to respond in the opposite spirit.

The answer, Jesus said, is to pray for those who persecute you. It's a decision of the will. It's not waiting for pleasant feelings to rise up. It's deciding: God says I must. Therefore I will.

If I am reviled, then I choose to respond by praying for blessings for those people.

Do you sometimes get feelings of jealousy towards others? Or critical thoughts? The feeling is a spirital assault. The enemy wants to cause you to stumble.

The bad feeling isn't a sin. Holding on to the feeling is the sin. Take it to God. Give the unloving thoughts to Him. Pray for the person ... for their good ... and the enemy will soon leave you alone.

The book of 2 Peter says: (2 Peter 1:5-7) "Make every effort ... (you make the effort) ... to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control perseverance, and to perseverance godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love."

There is a progression on view. You keep growing. You keep playing your part by keeping on adding at each stage of your spiritual development ... until you attain the goal of carrying His love in your heart.

It's not automatic. Turn to Jesus, and He will empower you.

In the book of 1 Corinthians, chapters 12 and 14 deal with gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are gifts of insight, of faith and speech, of working of miracles.

They are gifts that are spread among the members of the body of Christ. No-one has all the gifts. But everyone has something to contribute. God has arranged it that way because He wants us to recognise that we need each other.

Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians says that we should desire spiritual gifts, especially to be able to prophesy ... the bring the Word of the Lord into every situation.

In between the two chapters is chapter 13. 1 Corinthians 13 teaches about the over-arching requirement to love.

It's not spiritual power OR a heart of love. It's both ... spiritual power exercised out of a heart of love.

The love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13 is patient, long-suffering, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not self-seeking, not vengeful. The standard is high. It's the goal. It's what God intends for each one of us.

The danger of not taking God seriously in this matter is illustrated in the life of King Saul. God made Saul king of Israel. God changed him by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 10:6,10). The Holy Spirit caused Saul to prophesy. (Prophecy is the gift that we are told to earnestly desire, in 1 Corinthians 14.)

God changed King Saul's heart (1 Samuel 10:9). You'd be hard pressed in the Bible to find a clearer picture of someone who was born again.

Saul started out well. He was humble (see 1 Samuel 10:27 and 11:13). The Spirit of God empowered him. He led Israel to victory ... at first. (see 1 Samuel 11:6)

But Saul disobeyed God. And Saul grew jealous of David ... even though David had served him well. Saul ended up trying to kill David (see 1 Samuel 11:6).

Saul started well, but he didn't end well.

It's vital that in the life of faith we take the commandment of Jesus seriously. We are called on to love one another. Love, the Bible says, covers a multitude of sins.

In the next session, we'll learn about church. What is "church"? What is it meant to be? What is your role?

Go now to the next session: Overcoming Churchianity