How Shall We Now Live?
by Impact Church
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5b
As we continue with our post-Easter theme from last week, an alternative title for this devotion could be “Jesus is Alive,…Now What?”
In the mid-1970s, theologian Francis Schaeffer wrote his classic “How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture.” A generation later, the Christian world still doesn’t seem to get it. How we live is determined in great measure by how we think.
Let’s go back to Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb with the women bearing spices for anointing Jesus’ body. What were they expecting to find? A dead man, a corpse in dire need of embalming, right? If they had truly believed the words of the Messiah who foretold His resurrection on the third day, their expectations would have been entirely different.
Twenty centuries later, far too many struggling Christians continue to seek life in the dead trappings of old mindsets. They have heard the Gospel, responded by praying a “sinner’s prayer,” then tried to live a Christian life without changing their thinking and without the power of the Holy Spirit. The Wizard of Oz would call them “good deed doers,” but their actions bear little fruit and are ineffective in reaching a lost world.
The Scriptural word for such living is carnal, which simply means characterized by the flesh, its passions and appetites. In other words, a believer is trying to live Godly by using merely human thoughts, instincts and devices. If we have faith to believe that the Son of God died for our sins, do we not also have faith to believe what Paul told the Corinthians? “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
Does that mean that our old patterns of thinking are dead and we begin to think and behave like fully mature, spiritual disciples once we are converted? Well, yes and no. If our natural mindsets and worldviews from our ungodly lives are now effectively dead to us, we must also believe that our new life in Christ gives us a clean, fresh mind that is ready for reprogramming.
Indeed, Paul said we have the mind of Christ available to us (1 Cor. 2:16) because the One who saved us now lives in us: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Consider Paul’s classic instruction to his flock in the church at Ephesus: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind (emphasis ours), having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart,… But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24)
Follow the apostle’s inspired reasoning… (1) Our behavior as sinners was a product of our natural, unspiritual minds. (2) But as born-again believers, we “learn” Christ by reading and hearing the truth of the Word and communing with the Word Himself. (3) As we continually spend time with the Word, our minds are renewed so that we have discernment to know what behaviors and attitudes to “put off” or shun and which ones to “put on” and adopt.
When the Psalmist encourages us to hide God’s Word in our heart that we might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11), he’s talking about the center of our imagination and thinking. How do we live victoriously as Christians? By knowing and believing and standing on the Truth,…and by guarding our mind against Satan’s only weapon, deception!
As we let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16), we can take every thought captive in obedience to Him (2 Cor. 10:5) and we can truly reprogram our minds so we can live to please Him: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
So maybe the question really isn’t “How shall we now live?” as much as it is “How shall we now think?” When our worldview becomes a Word-view, our stumbles and struggles as disciples will diminish and our fruit will grow to the glory of our great God!