Living Authentically in Christ
In Acts 26:4, Paul is making a point: his false accusers know his beginnings.
“They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” (Acts 26:5)
At first glance it might seem that Paul says he WAS a Pharisee; however, if we look closely we will see he says something deeper: “I LIVED a Pharisee.” The meticulous commitment the Pharisees had to the knowledge of the Scriptures and their strict adherence to Jewish tradition was legendary. Paul was saying, basically, “I was the real thing as a Pharisee – not just a figurehead.”
This is important for everyone listening, including us, to see. Paul was formerly TOTALLY committed to his beliefs as a Pharisee. That makes his acts and lifestyle as a Christian even more evident and impressive.
The contrasts people can witness whenever anyone truly receives the Lord always make it very evident to those around them that something deeply significant happened to them because of it. The current religious climate of Christendom seems to communicate that not much really happens in a Christian – they just go to heaven when they die. It’s like the belief is that, for now, they are being renovated some…the rough edges being sanded off by God; but, for the most part life is the same as it used to be. We just go to church now.
This is NOT what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that a person who confesses Jesus as Lord DIES and will NEVER live again in the form he or she lived in as a lost person.
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried (only DEAD people are buried) with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” (Romans 6:3-9)
This is NOT a renovation; rather, it is a complete DEMOLITION and a new building takes its place. Even the foundation is bulldozed away and replaced.
“For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11)
It’s way past time for we Christians, especially leaders, to stop trivializing the effect Jesus can have on a person in order to make salvation more palatable and marketable to this selfish, self-serving world. All this has done is populate pews with consumers and not the selfless bond-servants of Jesus true conversion to the Lord is supposed to yield.
This hurts the cause of Christ and it cheats prospective new Christians out of the joy of truly serving the Living God. When Paul said this: “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” (Acts 26:4-5), he was standing as a prisoner, having been accused by those same Pharisees of being a rabble-rousing heretic.
It was VERY evident that something had changed inside him having been born again. His purpose for testifying was not to save his own life. It was to glorify his Lord.
May our lives and lifestyles be ones which are in stark contrast to who we used to be as lost people and to the lost and hopeless world. Let’s commit to partnering with Jesus as He continues to rebuild us in Himself…on Himself, as our firm foundation.
May we figure out who we are as eternally alive spiritual beings in Christ and may our lifestyles be those of living authentically in Christ.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© June 2, 2021
(for use with permission)