Faith Identity

Stop Being A Christian!

That’s right! You read it correctly. Stop being a Christian. Assuming you took a step of faith towards Jesus sometime in your past, trusting in HIs finished work on the cross for the total forgiveness of your sin, according to the Scriptures, you are saved. Redeemed. Forgiven. Bound for heaven. I was twelve when I made that faith commitment. All my pre-teen brain wanted was a chance out of hell. By the time I was fifteen, I was disinterested in Jesus to the point I was negotiating with my parents on how little I could go to church. I didn’t want to totally cut off Jesus; just enough to keep me headed to heaven while doing my thing my way. 

The Problem with Being a Christian

There is a teaching primarily in evangelical Christianity that has good, sound biblical roots. Well-meaning and fully intent on seeing believers follow Jesus, this teaching emphasizes the performance aspect of being a Christian over one’s experience of being one. Do not misunderstand what I’m saying. I come from a solid, biblical foundation where scriptures like Ephesians 2:8-10 are core to my faith. 

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

What I didn’t understand until well into my adulthood was that God never intended for me to live the Christian life. Rather, He made every intention for the Holy Spirit to live the life of Christ through you. Galatians 2:20 is my life verse. 

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When Jesus said it was good for Him to leave, (ascend to heaven after His resurrection), it was so that the Holy Spirit could come. The New Testament is filled with scriptures that speak of the Spirit living in each believer. It’s the idea that living the Christian life is not a matter of you and me trying harder, but of learning to yield more to the Spirit. 

Scared of the Holy Spirit

In my conservative church upbringing, no one ever spoke or taught about the Holy Spirit. As a kid, teen, and well into my adult years, the Holy Spirit was this undefined, mysterious force. I heard of extreme experiences where people would act uncontrollably and say things that no one understood. God. Jesus. I can handle them, but, honestly, I was at a point where I wouldn’t touch the Holy Spirit with a ten-foot pole!

My personal sin struggles, my insecurities, and doubts about my identity never seemed to leave me, regardless of how hard I tried to be a Christian. The hole kept getting deeper and my joy for living for Christ was stretched thin. How much of what I was doing was simply posing? You know, putting on a face- “I’m fine.”  Really?

Doctrine and Experience Go Hand in Hand

I’m not one of those guys who discounts scripture so that I can have an experience that is contrary. Nor am I a guy who denies experience at the expense of scripture. Living the Christian life is first and foremost a supernatural experience. It’s why scripture talks about living by faith. Faith is all about trust. God calls us to live by faith. 

When Paul tells us in scriptures like Galatians 2:20 that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” he’s referring to the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit who is fully able to live the life of Christ through us. 

Recently, I was listening to a Wild at Heart podcast by John Eldredge. He was talking about spiritual battles seen around the globe. In places like Indonesia or South America where Christianity is growing, they expect spiritual battles, because they know the supernatural is real. Whereas, the tendency with North American Christians is to downplay experiences and elevate a more rational view of faith. That’s not to say all believers in North America are wrong. Rather, that overall, the bent is towards a greater emphasis on doctrine at the cost of experience.

Holy Spirit in You

I am a redeemed, forgiven follower of Jesus Christ. I did nothing to earn salvation. It is fully by the grace of God in His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible is my solid foundation for life and faith. And, it’s on that foundation that I, by faith, recognize the supernatural power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  The reason I say stop being a Christian is that trying harder does not work.  First and foremost, it’s about Christ living His life through you. 

Not I, But Christ

As I yield to Christ, in the moment, the Holy Spirit is given an opportunity to do a supernatural work through me. What He does will never ever contradict scripture. He might take you out of your comfort zone, but it’s always for the purpose of coming alongside others for the sake of the Gospel.

When it comes to dealing with temptations, with doing what God calls us to in His Word, it always comes done to my willingness to live by the Spirit. 

How to Live the Christian Life

  1. Confess all known sin.
  2. Believe that God wants to live His life through you.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you. 

As a follower of Jesus, you have all of the Holy Spirit. The question is, does He have all of you?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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