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Miranda Writes: Spiritual Physical, Part 2




by Omar Miranda



Last week we began our discussion of the importance of taking our relationship with God seriously—in fact, Jesus took His relationship with us so seriously that He gave His life to ensure that we could spend eternity with Him.  We discussed the importance of making sure that our lives match up with our words and that we are seeking to live a life that is free from any consistent or purposeful sin.

This week we’ll be continuing our discussion about this topic, but we’ll be focusing on what God says about our relationship to our sin, about our salvation, and about our attitudes toward Jesus.

A lot of folks think that once God gave us salvation, then we got a “get out of jail free” card, and we can live any way we want to. The apostle Paul corrects that idea in Romans 6:1, 2: “What should we say? Should we keep on sinning, so that God’s wonderful kindness will show up even better?  No, we should not! If we are dead to sin, how can we go on sinning?”¹ If we’re truly thankful for God’s free gift of salvation, we won’t live as close to the edge as we can, seeing absolutely how far we can go with sin or how much sin we can get away with. Instead, we’ll stay as close to Christ as we can and not play games with sin.

Several weeks ago my wife told me about an interesting article she had read. It was about how people keep reptiles (cold-blooded animals) as pets and the fact that no matter how much somebody loves them, feeds them, and takes care of them, reptiles don’t have the ability to form loving and caring bonds with their owners and can at any time turn on them—biting, hurting, injuring, and even killing them. Kind of brings a new understanding to the term “cold-blooded killer.” That’s how dealing with sin is. No matter how much you play with it and spend time with it, in the end, it still has no love or feelings for you and will ultimately kill you.   With the text from Romans in mind, consider this: are there things that you have been thinking, watching, saying, or doing that you need to change? God loves you and doesn’t want you living your life as if you don’t know Him.

In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul again says the same thing but gets more specific: “Finally, my dear friends, since you belong to the Lord Jesus, we beg and urge you to live as we taught you. Then you will please God. You are already living that way, but try even harder. . . . God wants you to be holy, so don’t be immoral. . . . God didn’t choose you to be filthy, but to be pure. So if you don’t obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (verses 1-8).

God wants us to live a holy life for two primary reasons: 1. You belong to Him. 2. It pleases Him.

Jesus said plainly, “If you love me, you will do as I command” (John 14:15). Our love for God is most clearly and powerfully demonstrated by our obedience to Him. I am very frustrated that 40 to 50 percent of those who are baptized members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in their midteens will drop out of the church by the time they’re in their mid-20s.² We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in creative programming, quality Bible teaching, and education that are second to none, and still many of our pre-teens, teens, and college students are apathetic, lazy, and mediocre Christians! They dress, talk, act, and look like the world! I know it sounds like a harsh statement, but remember that I used to be one of those teens. I began doing my own thing in my mid-teens, and I didn’t come back to God until my mid-20s—I wasted at least 10 of the most productive years of my life on my own sin and selfishness when I could have given them to God! Youth, don’t be like me! The wise King Solomon, writing after having wasted a lot of his life, wrote these heavy words: “Keep your Creator in mind while you are young! In years to come, you will be burdened down with troubles and say, ‘I don’t enjoy life anymore’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

The reality is that if people don’t see a positive difference in us as Christians, then how will they ever want to choose Jesus over their sin and the world? The more sobering and scary thought is that some of those people may slip into eternity without ever knowing the hope, forgiveness, and peace that a relationship with Jesus can bring them, all because someone decided not to take seriously their relationship with Jesus and truly live as an “all-in” Christian.
So why do so-called Christians live like enemies of the cross of Christ (Paul’s words in Philippians 3:17-19)? Simply because they don’t truly love God. And they don’t love God because they don’t truly know God. I’m fully convinced that if they had a chance to really get to know God, they would love Him, and if they truly loved Him, they would naturally want to do what pleases Him. After all, the Christian life is about living to please God. If you said you loved somebody and then lived any way you wanted to—totally disregarding what that person told you to do—how much would you truly love that person?

For some reason a lot of people think that God is this cosmic stick in the mud. They think that all He’s out to do is throw cold water on their fun! I’ve had teens say to me, “Omar, I want to follow God with all my heart, but if I do that, I can’t have any fun!” And my response to them is “SIN ISN’T FUN! THE DEVIL HAS GOT YOU FOOLED!” Read Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, or Romans, and you’ll see a theme that repeats itself again and again: the only life, joy, freedom, health, and peace you’re ever going to have is living a life that is within the borders of what God has prescribed! If you do what He doesn’t want you to do, there’s only sickness, selfishness, pain, and death! Oh, that you would hear what I’m saying to you and change your ways. Know God, respect and honor God, love God, and obey God. He’s your only hope!

What does it mean to truly obey and follow God? Glad you asked. Jesus said to His followers—us included—“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Being a real Christian means that you don’t put yourself first anymore; it means that you put Christ first. It means that you let go of your own interests and agenda. It also means that you’ve got to be willing to sacrifice for Jesus and deny yourself. It means that you’ve got to conform and submit to Him entirely, i.e., to be willing to make changes in your life if Christ is telling you to do so. I hope we all want to be followers of Jesus. If that’s the case, we have to be selfless, not selfish. We must deny ourselves.

What does God want for us to give up, anyway? Only things that are harmful to our bodies, our minds, our characters, and ultimately, our relationship with Him.  It takes two hands and your whole body to carry a big, heavy, rough, wooden cross. Your mind and attention needs to be focused on what you’re doing. If you’re doing it daily, you won’t have time or motivation to focus on anything else but Jesus. Once again, when Jesus says “follow Me,” that’s a message of exclusion! You can’t follow Jesus and something or somebody else. Your sole focus needs to be on Him! After reading this, think about where your focus is. Are you following yourself, other stuff, the devil, or God?

I hope I’ve given you a lot to think about. As I’ve said before, the goal of our time together is for me to be informative, educational, entertaining, but most of all I want to challenge you and call you to a closer and more serious relationship with God.

Next week we’ll take a look at what God has to say about the attitude of someone who has given God their all and how they can be perfect!

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

¹Scripture quotations in this article are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
²Roger L. Dudley, Why Our Teenagers Leave the Church (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1999), p. 60.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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