2012-04-18 - Contrasting the Lives of Believers and Unbelievers
The Epistles of John ~ Part 30 ~ 1 John 2
Lives of believers and unbelievers are contrasted by where their relationships are. As believers, our basic relationship is with the Lord. It is grounded on our salvation through the shed blood of Christ. It is lived out in walking in obedience, and in loving God and others. And the Christian life is one of struggle.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).
We are in this battle because we are children of our Father, and as we depend on Him to carry us through the struggle. And it is in the midst of the struggle, that the depth of our relationship with Him continues to grow and deepen.
So there is to be a difference in lives of believers and non-believers. And often this difference is hard to identify. Sometimes as believers, we confuse what these differences are to be. Historically, Christians have focused on outward issues as the basis of these differences.
And certainly John tells us we aren't to be enamored with the things of the world. Christians should be identifiable by the differences in their walk, issues of lifestyle are legitimate. But too often, we are more concerned with behavior patterns than with attitudes.
We can fall into the trap of judging the maturity of believers by how they dress, what they do for recreation, and whom they keep company with. This can be so extreme, that even the Lord would be rejected. And emphasis on legalism and appearances can lead to Phariseeism.
The danger with an outward focus is we become judgmental and lose sight of the maturity level of our brothers and sisters. Too frequently we put the same expectations for quality of walk on all believers. We sometimes forget individual believers are at different levels of maturity. We should not expect the new believer's walk to be in line with the old saint of the Lord. The other thing to keep in mind is that people mature at different rates, and God is the only one who really knows at what level we should be living.
We are to encourage one another to grow in our walk. But we are not called to judge whether or not the individual is living up to his or her potential. Let us just make sure that we are de-pending on the Lord, to help us live up to ours.
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13).
To be continued.