There are Christians who seem to think that all the conditions of a holy life are met when there is very active and successful work being done. Because they do so much for the Lord in public, they feel they have a license to be cross and ugly and un-Christian-like in private. If we are to live as Christ lived, it must be in private as well as public.
We read in James 2: 14-21 concerning faith and works. The standard of practical holy living has been so low among Christians that the least degree of real devotedness of life and walk is looked upon with surprise and often even with animosity by a large portion of the church.
Job said, " I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." Job 23:12
"But someone will say, ' You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. " James 2:18
For some people their Christian life is a hidden life, but it must not be hidden as to its practical results. Results would not be the same if a Christian life were lived inside a closet where it cannot be seen. Others need to see Christ living in us at all times, if we say we are abiding in Him.
Abide in Me, as I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
John 8:31 (NKJV)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him,"If you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed."
John 15:4 (NKJV)
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep my My word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to Him and make our home with Him."
John 14:23 (NKJV)
All the nations will be before Him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
Matthew 25:32 (NKJV)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Christians must come out of the world and be separate.
Some followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are satisfied with a life so conformed to the world, and so like it in almost every respect, that, to a casual observer, no difference is discernible.
We are not to conform to this world, but must be transformed.
"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God."
I Peter 4:1-2
Think of how a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly. After the change it is then free to fly away. When we transform ourselves - it is in our thinking. Once our thinking is changed, we can then change our habits if they have been conforming to the desires of the world. Our attitude toward what we say and do must be changed.
"...if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:21-24
Paul in the book of Romans tells us," For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is peace."Romans 8:6
Through my school years, my parents made sure I played four musical instruments. Each day they wanted me to practice, teaching me that if you practice correctly, you will eventually do it right. And when you do it right the first time, you do not have to do it over. A Christian life is a life that is learned through study. Your faith needs to be an active one.
Read in I Thessalonians 2:12 "....as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory."
" Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. " II Timothy 2:15
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" I Peter 3:15
A Biblical example we will use is the city set on a hill. We are told that our lives as Christians need to be as that city. It was set on a hill so that others could see it.
" You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. " Matthew 5:14
We see in Luke 11:33." No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light."
Another Biblical example is the fig tree. A fig tree can produce good fruit, or it can be barren. We can be as the fig tree, bearing fruit or we can be unproductive.
Jesus used an unproductive fig tree to teach his disciples a lesson about faith. " And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it,' Let no fruit grow on you again. ' Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, 'How did the fig tree wither away so soon?' So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”" Matthew 21:19-22
Nahum draws a parallel between strongholds and productive trees." All your strongholds are fig trees with ripened figs: If they are shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater. " Nahum 3:12
We read in Jeremiah 24:2-3 ," One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. "
Some Christians live their lives in an image world trying to project a certain image of themselves. The impression they are making is of utmost importance to them. They may think that it is expected of them. They may have taught for the Lord, brought others to Him, but later their true feelings are shown to others.
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." I Peter 2:9
The psalmist writes," All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name." Psalm 86:9 " My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4
DISCUSSION AND STUDY QUESTIONS:
1) Do I need to share my faith with others I speak with daily? Why?
2) What standards does God give concerning our work?
3) What are the results if we are living a hidden Christian life?
4) If others cannot distinguish our Christian life from a worldly
lifestyle, would the results help or hinder our blessed Lord?
Like a house built on a firm foundation the Christian faith is founded on some key, enduring truths. Do you know what they are? If not, you owe it to yourself to find out whether you're building your life-and your eternity--on solid ground. This book is your invitation to spirited discussions with others as you explore the basics of faith--principles deeper and more far-reaching than you may have imagined. You'll learn what it means to really know Christ. You'll discover the secret to confident living, how to grow spiritually, how to handle your failures, how to follow Jesus in a world that's anything but devoted to Him, and the different ways God wants to guide you in the practical concerns of life. Like a house build on a firm foundation the Christian faith is founded on some key, enduring truths. Do you know what they are? If not, you owe it to yourself to find out whether you're building your life--and your eternity--on solid ground.