This is one of those questions that we need to ask ourselves regularly, “Have I stopped living for Jesus?” Now the question is not asking if you stopped being a “Christian.” It is not asking if you are not doing Christian things. But it is asking, have I stopped living for Jesus? The Bible reminds us that there is a subtle but important distinction.
Let me begin by offering a simple definition for “living for Jesus” as doing the things that Jesus would do day in and day out in all aspects and encounters in your life. This is something that speaks about not only your attitudes but also your actions.
I have been wrestling with the Biblical contrast of the “flesh” and the “spirit.” The “flesh” speaks of living without Jesus and pursing the natural desires of our broken nature. The “spirit” on the other hand speaks of living out God’s truth in our lives. The “flesh” in essence is living for me, myself and I while the “spirit” describes living for God and others. The distinction between these two contrasts is the difference between living for Jesus or not. It is a challenge that every genuine believer will wrestle with their whole earthly life. I can state this another way, “It is about living a changed life!” The Bible reminds us that the moment we surrender to Jesus by accepting the Gospel we are changed from the inside out. It reminds us that we are no longer under God’s judgment but enjoy His favor. We also learn that bondage of the former way of life, the flesh, have been broken and we have been enabled to live in the new way of the spirit. The “spirit,” or what I am calling living for Jesus, is not to be a way of living but our only way of living, period. This calls me to live life from God’s perspective. It means that we no longer complain and whine. It means that we can enjoy life without the artificial substitutes of the culture to make us feel good. It is a call to live like we did when we first found Jesus. The time in our lives when we ran to Him and away from all the things of our previous life before Jesus.
If you struggle with this you are not alone. The challenge that you face is that when you became a Christian and became “spiritually” alive, your old nature did not go away. The difference between those first days and now is that it now takes hard work. The Bible offers many helps in this area, let me offer one that I have found very helpful. Romans 8:5 says this, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”(Romans 8:5) If you will allow me to over simplify this verse, it means to control what you think about. If you want to live for Jesus you need to control what goes into your eyes and ears. It also means that we govern what we allow ourselves to think about.
So are you living for Jesus? I am not asking if you talk like a Christian, dress like a Christian or do the things that Christians do… I am asking are you thinking like a Christian? “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson