Here is part 3 of the the look at how to live a miserable Christian life. The goal here is obviously not to be miserable but to be filled with heavenly joy by being good stewards of all that Christ has given us. The first 2 post may be found here (part 1) and here (part 2).
6. Resist Biblical Correction
It is interesting the way God has done things. He has saved sinners and then commanded them to work out their salvation (Phil. 2.12). We are to be progressively growing into the likeness of our Master. This obviously implies a current state of practical imperfection.
God has been pleased to give his saints the word of God to be learned and applied, specifically within the context of the church of God. We are to practicing the “one-anothers” that are commanded (love, serve, encourage, admonish, etc..). This practice serves to chip away fleshy barnacles and mold Christ likeness in accordance with his word.
However, if the Christian is opposed to correction, bowing up in pride to it, they will become angry and bitter. This is why the Proverbs repeatedly show us the deadly downfall of refusing correction:
Proverbs 10:17 He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray.
Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.
Proverbs 29:1 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
So in the context of a fulfilled Christian life believers are constantly admonishing and encouraging/exhorting (same Greek word) one another. In fact this action is the result of having a heavenly perspective (Col. 3.1-4) and being filled with the Word of God (Col. 3.16).
If we give and receive correction within the framework of the gospel (humility and dependence) then we will be on our way to growing into Christ likeness. It is this that brings joy, resistence to correction brings misery.
7. Neglect Service in the body of Christ
Another great way to be miserable as a Christian is to not serve. This kind of goes with number 4 (being selfish). Remember that as a believer you have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6.19), graced with supernatural gifts (Rom. 12.6ff.), and commanded to employ them for the edification of the body and the glory of Jesus (1 Pet. 4.10). What’s more God has prepared these good works for us to walk in before the foundation of the world (Eph. 2.10).
So if we selfishly (paganly, idolatrously, sinfully…etc..) suffocate our gifts by burying them in the ground we have manifested our lack of esteem for the gift, the giver, and the intended recipients. This is ugly and makes misery.
Serving in the body has a supernatural effect. There is something about the sermon of humility that is preached to your heart when you serve in the Spirit according to the Son’s death to the Father’s pleasure. When you serve biblically you grow in love and appreciation for the Savior. When you neglect service you grow in self-focus, self-dependence, and ultimately self-worship. This will truly make you miserable.
8. Neglect Evangelism
As Christians we talk so much about faithful evangelism whether this be our struggles with boldness and clarity or just basic obedience. But the bottom line is that Jesus commands us to do evangelism (Matt. 28.19-21). He also says that he is going to be there with us in this context. As D.A. Carson has said, “The blessing and incentive of evangelism is the presence of Jesus.”
So when we neglect evangelism we neglect this joy. We neglect the spiritual exercise of reminding ourselves of what sin is, who God is, who Jesus is and the reality of hell. It is imperative to preach the gospel to yourself everyday to remember what a sinner you are and what a Savior Jesus is. Evangelism is just another opportunity for you to hear this, to remind your own heart of this great salvation.
But not only this…people actually get saved when Christians evangelize!! God has ordained that eternal life come through the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 1.15; 10.17). God is only saving people through the gospel. Therefore if you tell people it they may get saved!! This is considerable!!
Think of the joy that is in heaven over one sinner who repents (Lk. 15.10). There is heaven wrought joy in the heart of the evangelist has he proclaims the message of life to dead sinners, knowing that if God wills they will be called forth from the cave of death like a spiritual Lazarus.
However, if you and I neglect this discipline we pursue the less than desirable path. There is such joy in speaking the truth about God; this brings God pleasure and the Christian joy. Fasting from the gospel will bring spiritual malnutrition to your soul.
Preach the gospel to yourself, preach it to others, just say it!! It is powerful (Rom. 1.15)!!
Do not neglect this practice, for where evangelism is lacking so to is joy.
—Lord willing, we’ll wrap up the last couple tomorrow—