Part 4 – What are we to do?
CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…
Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers
The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.
The Walk is One of Obedience
In John 14:15, Jesus said, If ye love Me, keep My commandments.
Again in John 14:21, Jesus said,
He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.
In view of these verses a principle can be seen that will help the child of God in learning what life in the Spirit will mean as he studies God’s Word. The key is in the word, commandment. By seeing throughout God’s word commands in the imperative mood, the believer will soon realize there is a vast difference between a legalistic performance of rules and regulations which results in frustration and defeat, and allowing the Holy Spirit to accomplish what He wills to do as we submit to Him. WILLING SUBMISSIVENESS is the only way in which a child of God can keep the commandments. As he keeps the commandments, the love of God will be a reality in his walk.
There are so many of these commands in the New Testament, that only three key commands will be considered here by way of illustration, ABIDE, BE STEADFAST, and STAND FAST.
The first command to be considered is in John 15. Notice the emphasis Jesus gives to the importance of abiding. John 15:4, says,
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Jesus’ desire for his disciples (See v. 8.) is that they bear much fruit (v. 5). The disciple must abide (remain, continue) in Christ, i.e., continue in union with Christ, so that the fruit which Christ produces (Gal. 5:22,23 – the fruit of the Spirit) will come forth from the life of the disciple to feed those who are hungry for it, primarily the unsaved. The person who is abiding and in whom Christ’s Word abides, may ask what he wills and it will be done unto him (v. 7). That person will ask for that which is consistent with his abiding in Christ. To ask for anything that is not in keeping with the union the believer has in Christ would interfere with the abiding relationship.
In John 15:9, Jesus’ command to continue ye in my love is combining another aspect to the privilege of abiding, that of Christ’s love. The word, continue, is the same word in the Greek as the word, abide, in verses 4 through 10. So it would be correct to translate the word, continue, as abide. John 15:9,10 would then read,
As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you; “abide” ye in my love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. (John 15:9,10)
Jesus proceeds to the next point that relates to one’s abiding in God’s love in verse 12, when He states,
This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Again in verse 17 Jesus says, These things I command you, that ye love one another. In I John 2:10 an additional thought extends the sequence when it states,
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.
Loving one’s brother in godly love will be the evidence of the believer’s abiding in Christ, which is the same as abiding in the light. Abiding in the light will be a protection against stumbling, i.e., from being a snare or a stumbling block.
In I John 2:28, an additional benefit that the believer will experience by abiding in Christ is the confidence in His presence at His coming:
And now, little children, abide in Him, that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
This sequence of the relationship of love for our brother and confidence at Christ’s appearance is the emphasis given in the passage in I John 4:16,17,
…God is love, and he that dwelleth (abides) in love dwelleth (abides) in God, and God in him.
Herein is our love made perfect (brought to completion), that we may have boldness (confidence) in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world.
Several other words in the New Testament which are helpful to consider in addition to abiding are the words, be steadfast, and stand fast, which help to emphasize the importance of a continued, on-going behavior which is consistent and synonymous with walking in the Spirit.
In I Corinthians 15:58, it says,
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
The Apostle Paul concludes his great treatise on the theme of resurrection with this three-fold admonition to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…
The word, steadfast, is derived from a word meaning to be seated and carries the idea of having a set purpose. It is used in Colossians 1:23, where it is translated settled:
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature that is under heaven…
In this passage Paul emphasizes the importance of faith as a foundation which is the basis of enduring confidence since it is centered in the gospel. Receiving Christ as Saviour is a point of beginning of life in Christ that will be nurtured and will move toward maturity in proportion to one’s steadfastness.
In the previous passage in I Corinthians 15:58, steadfastness is seen by Paul as the practical means of putting into use the resurrection life for believers and is the supreme answer to the problems of carnality described in I Corinthians, chapters 3 through 11. Coupled with steadfastness, Paul includes the words, unmoveable and always abounding. These words likewise emphasize that because of the resurrection, believers are to have a confident stability that allows the individual to move forward in growth in a consistent manner, as one is involved in the work of the Lord.
The importance of steadfastness as the believer walks in the Spirit is further emphasized in the following passages which are considered in chronological order:
Romans 12:12, …continuing diligently in prayer.
Colossians 2:5, I am…joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
Colossians 4:2, Continue (be steadfast) in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.
II Peter 1:10, Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.
II Peter 1:19, We have also a more sure (steadfast) word of prophecy, unto which ye do well that ye take heed…
Hebrews 3:6, But Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm (steadfast) unto the end.
Hebrews 3:14, For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.
Hebrews 6:11,12, And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end; That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Hebrews 6:19, Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…
The responsibility to be steadfast is placed on the believer in his conduct in all of the above Scriptures just cited, with the exception of II Peter 1:19 and Hebrews 6:19. These two passages speak of the steadfast word of prophecy and the steadfast hope, both of which are essential in order for the believer to walk steadfastly. As the believer walks in the Spirit, through his submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading and through the great power of the resurrection of Christ, he is able to have this confident stability of growth in steadfast obedience to Christ’s commands.
The third command under THE WALK IS ONE OF OBEDIENCE to STAND FAST or persevere.
Galatians 5:1, Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
I Thessalonians 3:7,8, Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith; For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
II Thessalonians 2:15, Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle.
I Corinthians 16:13, Watch, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
Philippians 1:27, Only let your conduct be as it becometh the gospel of Christ, that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Philippians 4:1, Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
In each of the passages cited above, the words, stand fast, are the translation of the original Greek word, , which has the significance of perseverance or persistence.
In Galatians 5:1, the thought of stand fast is for believers to continue to hold firmly to the freedom afforded them in Christ rather than for them to submit again to being in bondage to a system of legalistic requirements such as had been imposed by the Judaizers in Asia Minor.
In I Thessalonians 3:8, stand fast has the intent of persevering “in one’s fellowship with the Lord”(1). In II Thessalonians 2:15, believers are encouraged “to persevere in godliness and rectitude”(2), while in I Corinthians 16:13, perseverance is to be “in the faith”(3).
In Philippians 1:27, believers are to persist in unity of spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. In Philippians 4:1, they are encouraged to persevere in their “fellowship with the Lord”(4). Perseverance is needed in the believer’s walk because he faces the obstacles of the world, the flesh, and the devil throughout life’s journey.
1 Thayer, op, cit, 588.
Next Week: Part Five continued: Be Filled With The Spirit
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.