Following Christ requires that you daily submit every single area of your life (your mind or heart, your decisions and desires, your worries and cares, your past, present and future) to His Lordship (His Word, will and way) and justice (His penalty for sin), so that it will count for His Kingdom (Mat 16:21-24; Luk 14:25-35; Luk 9:23 and 62). In short, you choose to only be concerned with gaining Christ and His approval and nothing or nobody else (2Co 5:9-17; 2Ti 2:4; Phi 1:21; Col 3:2; 1Co 4:1-4) . Anything less than that is not following Christ according to how He defines it will not only fail to be effective in dealing w/sin, but manifest itself in a lack of boldness, interest, passion or loyalty for Christ in comparison to other things (Mat 6:21; Exo 20:3; *passion is what happens when you invest everything [when you give your whole life/everything you are/your present and future/all your hopes over to the Lordship of Christ]*).
With that in mind, consider further, these truths as to what Following Christ is not:
- It is not confusing.
If living in this world as a Christian is constantly confusing to you, then there is a good chance you are not (yet) (or are no longer) following Christ the way He calls you too (total surrender to His Lordship and justice).
- It is not going to make temptation/trials go away.
We will continue to face other temptations/trials – including new ones (e.g. persecution associated w/being a Christian. Our faithfulness thru such trials/temptations are the test proving our worthiness/fitness for heaven.
- It is not separate from loyalty to the church.
There is no such thing as a person who follows Christ yet remains disloyal to His church (their covenant brothers and sisters) – especially when things get tough (or trials come or they fall into sin).
- It is not rehab or gradual.
Jesus demands that we be immediately be all in. Which means when it comes to our obedience and turning from sin, there is no stalling or dragging our feet.
- It is not a hamster on a wheel.
We are NOT missing out on all the fun and exciting stuff this world has to offer by following Christ. What we are doing in being faithful to Him is adding up to something eternal.
- It is not the path most of those who claim to be follow Christ will take or continue on.
In our lifetime we will encounter many people whose path to following Christ is not the one He defines –or b/c of what He demands, will eventually leave the path and no longer follow Him –though many of those people wb deluded into thinking they still are following Christ. This is especially true of those who are “wise in their own eyes” – Pro 26:12. This leads to their apostasy while at the same time convincing them they are still on the path.
- It is not meant to accommodate our lifestyle or loyalties.
When we think of people going apostate, we tend to (I would assume) attribute their cause of death to the something inherently sinful that they refuse to stop practicing (e.g. sexual immorality), but many times, what people actually go apostate over, are things that are not (in and of themselves – or inherently) evil/sinful. They are instead good things (or things at least at one time we believed to be good) that God now wants those people to give up –or change in relation to– and they refuse.
What I am talking about are certain lifestyles or loyalties that Jesus has now revealed to no longer be acceptable. And that happens! As we grow in our understanding and maturity, there are things Jesus expects to change (or go away). Our lifestyles and loyalties change (or progressively grow in the direction of holiness or further faithfulness) as we continue to follow Jesus and listen to His Word. That is (at least) what happens for those who continue to follow Christ and ultimately make it heaven.
For others, these changes represent the roadblocks -or points of departure from following Christ.
Which means IF WE ARE GOING TO MAKE it to the end, THEN we need to be AWARE of that—AND GOOD w/that SINCE this (too) is what it means to follow CHRIST.
It was NEVER about accommodation. RATHER it is about assimilation –US becoming more like HIM.
Examples of lifestyles and loyalties that Jesus will demand change to continue following Him:
7.1. Habits, hobbies, people, practices and preferences in our Christian walk that we were unaware are actually sinful
(Luk 18:18-23; e.g. playing games that involve you doing sinful things [Among Us] – 1Th 5:22; association w/sorcery thru games, movies or tv shows; association w/people who claim Christ but hold to a false gospel – 2Jo 1:9-11; possessing evil suspicions and always grumbling and complaining or condemning members of the church [including the pastor] – 1Ti 6:4; Col 3:13-14; Jam 4:11-12, 5:9; Jud 1:14-16; being disrespectful/disobedient to your boss or the president/govt when you don’t have a biblical reason to do so – Eph 6:1-8; Rom 13:1-2; playing the victim card [your problems are always somebody else’s fault/no ownership] – Jam 1:13-15, 19-21; Jud 1:16 “malcontents”; LIVING IN FEAR versus trusting GOD [distancing yourself, not building deep relationships or being transparent w/your church family bc you fear being rejected or hurt – 2Co 6:11-13]; NOT being bold w/your bros/sis when you see they are on a dangerous path bc you care more about what they will think rather than what Jesus will think if you don’t – Jam 5:19-20 “multitude of sins” is our own that would have been true for being selfish, unloving cowards).
7.2. False views of reality or failures to recognize (and conform to) how God has presently made the world (in order to succeed in it and glorify Him
(Deu 32:39; Psa 33:11; Pro 16:4, 33, 19:21, 21:1; Isa 10:15, 14:27, 43:13; Isa 46:8-11; Lam 3:37; Rom 8:28 = The way things work in the world today are the way God purposed that they would exist and work. To therefore fight and be contrary to those things rather than conforming to them so as to get ahead/be successful and have influence thru them for Christ is rebellion; e.g. not getting a bachelor’s degree after high school if you have the aptitude/ability; getting visible tattoos; acting like/looking like a gang-banger, goth, redneck or social recluse/retard/reject [2Co 8:20]; not being inspired/pursuing the self-discipline espoused by the military [not their gun-play – but their self-discipline] or sports as motivation to personal self-discipline and spiritual achievement 1Co 9:23-27; 2Ti 4-5 “entangled in civilian pursuits” = Involvement in/fretting over the affairs of this world [e.g. fretting over who won the election and whether or not there was fraud – or where this nation might be heading; fretting over our company – whether or not we think they are smart or just – Luk 21:34]).
7.3. Any and all theological beliefs/religious practices that no longer square w/what He is requiring of us now
(Phi 3:1-9 = For Paul following Christ required a major change to his theology [justification by faith versus works of the law]. It also therefore meant jettisoning a huge part of his former lifestyle and loyalties [Hence the reason he was accused of antinomianism is Act 21:21]. Such changes to lifestyle and loyalties brought w/them no shortage of persecution. Paul would spend the rest of his earthly days fighting and suffering for them. Notice however Paul’s commitment to the changes Christ required – the former ways now considered “rubbish” [he could have easily kept clinging to them or been offended in having to give them up as many people are today when told the old ways will no longer do. Such attitudes come only from rebellious pride which is not congruent w/following Christ. Our life is now His life – which means it is His prerogative to change it anytime He pleases – 1Co 13:11]; e.g. our former view of baptism or the LT; our former belief in penal substitution or Calvinism; our view on waste – Jos 6-12).
- It is not weighted the same for all things.
There are some sins that God views worst than others: two in particular. Which means if this is where you struggle, you are definitely NOT on in hot pursuit of Christ (you are not following Him). These two areas should (iow) be the things furthest from being identified w/you.
What are they? Sexual sin and disloyalty to God’s church/people. There are (to be sure) a multitude of verses to support what I just said—but for sake of remaining time, I have selected on NT book where we find both in close proximity: 1Th 4:1-6, 9-10).
- It is not constantly being guilty of the same sins.
If I (as your pastor) am constantly having to deal with same sin problems or you have been characterized by others as possessing the same sinful characteristics then that is a good sign you are not following Christ. Why? BC when we follow Christ, being characterized by any sin goes away. We are instead characterized by righteousness (1Jo 3:7-10). The person who is constantly plagued by the same sin/sinful actions is a person that has not truly submitted their life to Christ’s Lordship (His Word/will and way) and/or justice. IOW: They are not doers of His Word (only hearers) —AND they are not bearing the necessary fruit of repentance (Jam 1:22-25; Luk 3:8-9 = Bearing fruit means that we possess the proof that our life has changed—we are no longer practicing those sins confessed).