What we believe, as Christians is crucial. Faith is what salvation and our relationship with Christ are based on, and faith has everything to do with what we really believe.
So I ask you, do you really believe that what you believe is really real?
And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (Genesis 15:6)
Do you really believe in the gospel message, or do you just acknowledge it without having faith in it? Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the two.
We can demonstrate the difference between faith and belief with a chair. You can look at a chair and say you believe that if you sit in the chair it will hold your weight, but you do not really have faith in it unless you go over and sit in the chair. Only then do you display that you have faith the chair will hold you.
That is a decent analogy, but how exactly does it apply to our faith? I sit my butt in a pew at church every Sunday, isn’t that showing that I have faith?
My favorite analogy is that of two guys getting onto an airplane. Both are greeted by a flight attendant addresses them with a smile on her face saying “there is a high probability that this plane will crash during this flight. You will want these parachutes.” (At this point I would be getting off the plane personally, but these guys are tough, they can handle the risk.)
So they get on the plane, but only one guy puts on the parachute. He isn’t scared at all, not hanging on for dear life, he just put on the parachute and went about his business. The other guy just tossed the parachute in the back of the plane and went about his business.
Now I ask you, which of these guys had actually believed the plane might crash? The guy who put on the parachute, right? How do you know he had faith? It is because of his actions; he acted according to what he believed.
So how do we apply this to our Christian faith? By our actions. You can tell one who has faith because he acts like it.
Actions of faith
Faith saves us, but only faith that produce actions.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”(James 2:17)
The number one action that shows a person really believes in God is how they live their life; a life of righteousness.
Sin is serious, but we tend to down play, to make it seem like it is really nothing. To us it may be nothing if we lie, cheat, watch pornography, are a homosexual, have sex outside of marriage, or any other sin. To us, these may seem like nothing, but to God they are horrible!
We can see this all through the old testament. Read the laws and you will see there are huge penalties (i.e. death) for sinning. Why? Because God really hates sin.
The New Testament still talks about how much God hates sin and demands we avoid it. One passage we will look at is the book of 1 John.
God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1,4-6)
These passages should make it clear, living for God means we will avoid sin.
I really want to focus on verse five of the passage above. “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.” (1 John 2:5)
We do not avoid sin to gain salvation or impress God, but because we love Him. I buy gifts for my wife from time to time, not to impress her or try to win her love, but I do it because I love her. In the same way, we must live our lives absent of sin (as much as humanly possible at least, more on this in a minute).
To understand why this is an act of love towards God we need to understand more of what sin is, or more importantly who God is.
God is perfect, no darkness is in Him, no sin, no blemishes; everything about Him is absolutely perfect. God is Holy, set apart. And to sin is to do something contrary to His nature. Sin is horrible.
Sin is an incredibly disgusting act in the sight of God that goes against His perfect holiness. Even the best we can do, most righteous deeds, are nothing more than “filthy rags” to Him (Isaiah 64:6). How much more filthy are our sinful deeds to Him?
Our sin also hurts God.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Jesus was tortured, literally tortured, beaten, and killed, why? Because of our sin. And you can honestly tell me that you want to choose to live in sin over living for God, and that God is okay with it?
One way we justify this is to separate the act of sin from the person committing the sin. We say “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I think Leonard Ravenhill brings a fresh perspective to this topic.
“I don’t believe there is a man on the whole TV that preaches salvation. They preach forgiveness. Forgiveness is not salvation. … “Oh you know the Lord loves you just as you are.” Well then why get changed? Commit adultery as much as you like. He still loves you. Be a cheat, be a liar, be a thief, and be a failure. He still loves you. But there’s a scripture. Isn’t it the Psalms 7… where it says “God is angry with the wicked every day.” I heard somebody quote today “God loves you but hates your sin” that’s bunken. God hates you for committing the sin. Is God going to take your sins and judge them at the Judgment and leave you alone?”
This is why, if we love God, we must avoid sin. If we don’t then we are just fooling ourselves.
If you are living in sin right now, as in purposely doing something you know is wrong, then you are choosing sin over loving God. Christians are ambassadors, we take the name of God and we represent Him on this Earth, you are saying that you want Him to be the Lord of your life. Yet you choose your filthy disgusting worthless sin over Him?
That fact alone has to disgust God greatly!
Living in Sin vs slipping up
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we will ever be perfect this side of heaven, for we are still in these sinful bodies. What I am talking about is the purposeful, intentional, and continuous choice to sin.
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)
The choice to keep looking at pornography, the choice to keep watching those shows on tv that have “questionable” content, the choice to sleep with someone you are not married to. It is your lifestyle, things you choose to keep on doing. You cannot have a lifestyle of sin and serve God at the same time.
You Must Make God Number One
To sum it up, you absolutely MUST make God first in your life. There is no way around it. Jesus did not die on the cross to save us from sin just to allow us to continue sinning. He freed us from sin so we could stop sinning, so we could serve Him.