Most of us have heard the phrase: Now THIS is the life! What scene do you envision someone in where this is the thought bubble hovering above their head? For me the classic picture would be a retired man lying in a hammock on a sunny beach wearing a straw hat, Hawaiian shirt and khakis. He would be holding a beverage up in the air that has a little umbrella and fruit on a stick resting on the rim, doing a toast to the ocean. Isn’t this a scene we are all taught is the epitome of living?
Well, a beautiful, relaxing environment would probably appeal to just about any one of us. And there certainly is nothing wrong with enjoying all that God has created. Relaxation is also something we all need at times. But the phrase: Now THIS is the life! seems to have connotations that may give it a whole different meaning. What if this is what the man on the beach is really saying: I have finally arrived! Or what about the familiar: My ship has finally come in! Or perhaps: I finally have what I’ve worked so hard for all of these years! Or: Now I am REALLY living! Or the ever revealing: If only they could see me now!
Aren’t these the messages of our society? Isn’t this the philosophy of the world? The glaring commonalities in these statements are I, my, and me
This is what God says:
I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. And that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a).
Wouldn’t it seem obvious to anyone that saying yes to God’s offer of life would be the only way to go? What would possibly cause someone to say no~ to choose death over life? Why would anyone choose to be cursed rather than blessed by Almighty God?
One of the most prevalent things that come to mind is pride. In their spiritual blindness, many people depend upon human reason and logic and disregard the Word of God. They don’t seek God and His wisdom, they go by what human wisdom and cultural norms tell them. So when they are told to choose between life and death, they very well may believe they already have life. They are breathing and blood is flowing through their veins, so these are the signs of life they are looking for. And they say:
Sure, I believe there’s a God. They may even say they believe in God. These individuals are deceived into believing their ideas of life and God are correct, and never look any further. As long as they can walk and talk; make a living to pay the bills and buy what they want; have some fun on the weekends; and take a vacation once or twice a year; this is what life is all about. People stuck in this kind of pride, are completely missing out on what life is~ and what life lived in God can be. They believe they are alive and yet they are dead.
Another form of human pride is self-dependence. Human beings have always had the devastating tendency to follow their fleshly hearts rather than going toward their loving Savior who will give them a brand new heart. And because life is found ONLY in God, they simply do not have no life at all without Him.
Another reason that someone might refuse God’s offer of life is unbelief. Not believing that God is who He says He is, or that He will do what He says He will do. When God gives such a clear choice of life or death and a person rejects Him and the life He offers, they must not believe they will really die. This certainly brings to mind Adam and Eve. Didn’t the serpent tell Eve that she would not surely die if she did her own thing and disobeyed God? Isn’t it amazing that so many continue to be deceived by this original lie from the enemy? So Satan doesn’t really have to think up a lot of new material for the lost, does he? This person who rejects God and life, also must undoubtedly not believe that life lived in separation from God is death.
Does all of this mean that a person will physically die if they do not choose God? Well, very possibly they could die, as they are living life apart from their protector. They are living life in this evil world on their own strength and without refuge. But what is worse~ they are rebelling against Almighty God. They have chosen to follow false gods by going their own way, the ways of man, and the ways of the world. Therefore they are an enemy of God. It is clear that life does not go well living as an enemy of our loving and just Lord. There is no non-decision or pass when it comes to our choices~ we have all chosen whom we will follow. In being given this crystal clear choice by the Lord, each person is consciously deciding to be blessed or choosing to be cursed whether someone wants to think of it that way or not.
Throughout God’s Word He makes it glaringly apparent that there is a black and white choice given to all mankind. There are no gray areas. Jesus says:
He who is not with me is against me (Luke 11:23a). And in John 6:33 the Word says:
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. These truths are repeated time and time again in the Bible~ our Word of Life: In Him we have life and apart from Him we have death. We are all dead in our sins, made alive only through the power of God~ through the blood of our Savior.
Many people think that death as we know it is the worst thing that can happen to a person. This is not true. Whether our physical bodies are operating on this earth, or they have expired is not the point. The point is whether we are living in God or not. If we choose life~ God, we will be blessed for all eternity, and if we choose death~ life without God, we will be cursed for all eternity.
If we choose life without God, it is not only separation from Him here on earth, it is separation from Him for all eternity. Some believe that once their hearts stop beating they just cease to exist, and they will no longer experience the pain of this world. That is a lie of Satan. The pain will get inconceivably worse. Here on earth, there is at least an illusion for unbelievers of ease, comfort, and pleasure. There is the warmth of the sun, shelter, and getting human drives satisfied by the things of this world. In their foolishness they have not sought truth and have missed their reason for existence. Their time on earth has only been an opportunity to choose God through a personal relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. And in His love and grace each is given opportunity after opportunity to do so. But if they reject Christ until the very end, they will tragically discover that God was telling them the truth all along- and they did not listen. They will still exist, but all of the comforts of earth are gone when their earthly bodies pass away. In that instant, they go into life eternal separated from the love of God and all He provided on this earth. It is hard enough being separated from God on earth. I lived in that hell before I was saved. But what a thing it would be to know there are no more chances to be saved; no world to live in because it has been destroyed~ maybe even before your eyes; and then being turned away from heaven and told by God: I never knew you!? No wonder our loving and gracious God gives every opportunity to everyone to be saved from the unimaginable torment of being forever separated from He who is Light and Love~ and Life. God loves us so much and desires that all would be saved. He wants us to be with Him~ to lavish His love on us here on earth and for all eternity. Believing Him is truly a matter of life and death.
So what about the Christian? Well, if you have received Jesus Christ into your heart and the Holy Spirit is living in you, you have life eternal. God knows to whom your heart belongs. If you’re not sure to whom your heart belongs~ that would be a vital thing for you to let the Lord search your heart about.
So let me ask this question of you: Are you really living? Did you know that most Christians love the world rather than loving Christ and believing that God is their very life? This is a contradiction that God does not accept. God does not want us to just know that He is the One who gives life~ He wants our lives to be all about Him. This means that everything in us yearns to be closer and closer to Him, and that we want nothing but to sit at His feet~ loving Him, listening to His voice, and holding fast to Him. This is the only way to come to know God and truly love Him. When this happens we will no longer see life as our own. We will believe deep in our hearts that we are here to live in His plan and be used for His purposes alone. We desire to follow Him. In this we submit to Him fully and follow Him wherever He chooses to take us. This is what His Word says takes place once we truly choose Him. A Christian may say that God is their life, but is He really? If we have indeed chosen life, how could we be living in the ways of the world which are darkness? Could anyone honestly say they are living in Him when they are clearly running their own life and following the ways of men? Or being led by their own thoughts and feelings rather than by God?
In God’s great wisdom He has given us two crystal clear choices and no other. And that goes for the Christian as well. We are either with Him or against Him. We love Him or we love the world. Some may think I am talking only about the ways of the world being obvious sin~ like drunkenness and carousing. But all things that our out of His will are in rebellion against God. Some of the things I am talking about are deceptions that Christians fall into. This may involve believing certain things are okay because it is how people in our culture behave.
Three areas that come to mind are time, money, and boundaries. First let’s look at time. Do you believe your time belongs to God? Is He in charge of your schedule? Most people believe they can spend their time any way they desire as long as they are not doing anything they would consider wrong. This is the way of the world. This is self-direction. If you truly belong to God, it means that your time is not your own. He is the One with the plan, and He is the One who knows exactly what He wants you to be doing with your time. Do you ask God before you sign up for a ministry at church? Do you seek the Lord about whether or not He wants your kids in sports? No matter how good or benign you think an activity is~ that is not the point. If God is your life, then it is He you seek and follow. He is Sovereign and knows what is best in every circumstance. Most Christians are in the same rat race the world is in. Let the Lord lovingly guide you in all you do with the time He has provided.
Looking at money would be very similar. Do you believe that every bit of the money you have belongs to God? Is He in charge of your checkbook and savings account? Do you pray about how He wants you to use the money that is in your possession~ and wait upon Him for the answer? Do you ask Him about purchases? Most Christians would not be able to say that they asked the Lord before buying even larger items like a car or house. What is this about if God is truly the Lord of their life? Following God means that He decides where, when, how, and on what the money will be used. Making these choices on your own is also the way of the world. There is much pride in the thought that somehow we know better than God~ and it is a rebellion against Him. Again, have we really chosen life if we are running it ourselves? Surrender your finances to Him and you will be richly blessed.
Boundaries is another area where Christians are looking the same as the world in many ways. What kind of boundaries do you have with the opposite sex? Have you bought into any of the societal norms? Our society has become more and more sexualized. Unfortunately many, many Christians have fallen into this trap. Have you? What about flirting? There are many Christians even in the halls of churches flirting with someone other than their spouse. And it is worse and worse out in public places. Whether it’s a grocery line, a restaurant, or even a church, inappropriate boundaries between opposite sex people is ramped. This is not of God. Flirtatious comments, bantering, and physical touch are not harmless acts. Whether joking, teasing, exchanging giggles and blushes, or some other way, it is a selfish and fleshly indulgence. These are things meant for our spouse and our spouse alone. It is an affront to God, your spouse, and is a sinful act for those participating to make these kinds of connections with the opposite sex. The Word says:
(treat) older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity (1 Timothy 5:2). And the same would apply for women when it comes to men. If you have any hint of impurity in your life when it comes to boundaries, take them to the Lord and repent of these ways. There is much more that could be said about boundaries for Christians, but that will be for another time. Be very prayerful about your boundaries in life. Do not buy into our cultural norms. When you do, you are stepping into darkness, and it will swallow you up if you let the enemy take you there. You will be deceived into thinking that it is no big deal, and all the while the Lord knows that you are choosing this world rather than Him.
There is no decision too small to bring to the Lord. If He is your life, you will want to know His will. What is Christianity if it is not following Christ ever so closely in every way as we seek Him with all of our heart? I have heard many people say over the years, as if the wind is taken out of their sails: You mean I have to pray about that too!? My answer has always been something like: Well, you don’t have to do anything, but if you are sincere in wanting to be a follower of Christ, then you will truly follow Him in all things~ you will always see His feet before you because you are humbly going only where He wants you to go. Where is a person’s heart when they seem put out over praying and asking God’s will? Jesus said:
If God were your God you would love me (John 8:42a).
If you love me you will obey what I command (John 14:15).
Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your strength (Deut. 6:5).
Does that mean we will lose salvation if we are living in the ways of the world? Well, if you have in your heart trusted Christ as your Savior~ no. You are sealed in the Lord for all eternity. But if you belong to the Lord and you are not living in Him, you have a major decision to make. There is a thick unmistakable line drawn for us. You need to decide which side you are on. You simply will not be under God’s protective hand if you are going your own way. And you can certainly not expect to receive God’s blessings if you are choosing to rebel against Him. Your life will look no different than the unbeliever if you choose to live in the darkness of the world. Anything that is not in God’s will is darkness. And you cannot be used by the Lord for His glory if you ignore His voice and will. If you are not holding fast to Him, you are holding onto earthly things.
Satan has been using the same deceptions on God’s people since the early days of Christianity. He doesn’t need a lot of new material for Christians either, does he? Paul and the other apostles challenged Christians constantly about who they were really living for. For example:
If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth (1 John 1:6). And the words of truth from Paul to the Philippians:
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach and their glory is their shame. Their mind is on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:18-20a). Many would see these words as harsh and unloving. The opposite is true. The Lord gave Paul deep love for His people and the strength and courage to tell them the truth. Don’t we all need to be told truth in our lives? This is the boldest love of all. Be a light to all those around you. Don’t let the light of the Lord that lives in you be under a bushel undetectable to those who so desperately need to be saved from this world.
It is clear that God wants us to have absolutely no doubt as to where we stand. He does not offer riding the fence or one foot in the world and one foot in His Kingdom as an option. So we can call ourselves a Christian, but how we are living must match with what His Word says. This doesn’t mean doing good works that we have decided to do. It is choosing to follow God alone. This doesn’t mean that there is not a journey for all of us when we truly have given our lives to Christ. We can even tend to have strong tendencies to wander from the heart of our Beloved Father. But this is different than simply saying we are a Christian, yet living like the rest of the world. When we choose life, we are set apart and then the love of God can truly be seen in our hearts. But if our hearts are set on earthly things, we are missing out on the abundant life we could have, and we will also be a stumbling block for fellow Christians. And again, what about the lost? If we are acting as though we are lost and confused in our life as a Christian, how could anyone possibly see God in us and desire to know Him. True Christianity is not more of the same.
I encourage you to let the Lord search your heart about where you really are with Him. Don’t buy into any version of Satan’s offer of a counterfeit life as he whispers in your ear: Now THIS is the life. When you are REALLY living, you will be so filled with joy because you are truly living in the will of God in every way. Your conscience will be clear, and your heart will be free and full of joy and peace that comes with living in the truth that God is your life. He wants to hold you in His loving arms here on earth and for all eternity.