Inaccurate Ideas about the Christian Life
Some people hold to the idea that Christians are meant to have prosperity, health, and happiness. It is also believed that Christians can expect to have things go their way in life; they just need to believe and receive. God loves us, after all. Why wouldn’t He give us a better, easier life if we love Him and follow Him? Why wouldn’t He want to fill our lives with blessings of material abundance and health? Surely, He wants to give us everything!
When I was a new believer, I assumed that being a Christian meant God would always answer my prayers according to my requests. I expected to get what I thought was good simply because I was a Christian. I didn’t learn that anywhere; it came from my own imagination and ignorance.
In time, I learned that God’s word does not guarantee that all of our prayers will be answered in the affirmative. And careful study of the Bible also showed that it doesn’t guarantee a life of prosperity, health, or ease. Christians were never — to reference an old song and show my age — promised a rose garden.
The Christian life is not easy as we would typically describe easy
The truth is, the biblical Christian life is not easy as we would typically describe easy. Christians are called to be selfless and deny themselves. They are to bear fruit for God and abound in the work of the Lord. They are not even supposed to lean on their own understanding! No, the Christian life – living for Christ – is not a guarantee of prosperity, health, and getting what you want out of life. Can these things happen for Christians at times? Sure, but they are not the POINT or the PROMISE of the Christian life.
Study – Service – Sacrifice – Suffering – Submission – Sanctification
To look into this deeper, consider these six words: study – service – sacrifice – suffering – submission – sanctification. They are not things that you’d expect to find on a top ten list of “how to live your best life”, but the Bible tells us that they are part and parcel of the Christian life. In fact, these things must be pursued or embraced. Pursued or embraced!
Christians who love and thus obey the Lord will give up time and put effort into studying the Bible. They will humbly serve God and others, and even consider other people as more important than themselves. They will make sacrifices and suffer for their faith. They will lay down their own will and submit to God and various authorities. They will put to death their sinful deeds and grow in sanctification. All these things are done to the glory of God. This is what the Christian life is really like – or should be.
If these six aspects of the Christian life are in your life, that speaks volumes about your testimony as a believer. If they are missing from your life, prayerful reflection and time in God’s word might help you to understand why. It may be because you have only been exposed to a lesser, warped version of “Christianity”, a pop-culture, cost you nothing kind of Christianity. Maybe you’ve heard the many voices that claim that God just wants to shower you with wealth and health, so you don’t expect hardships or hard work. Maybe, like what I did, you just assumed what Christianity is all about and shaped it according to your imagination.
Or maybe, you know better. And honest reflection will reveal that study, service, sacrifice, suffering, submission, or sanctification are missing from your life because of sinfulness. If that happens, the Lord is faithful and righteous to forgive if we confess.
The Christian life isn’t “easy” — It’s better than easy
Though study, service, sacrifice, suffering, submission, and sanctification are known by believers, they are not the sum of a life in Christ. There is so much more. Also, Christians do not undertake them alone.
Our sovereign and merciful God who works all things after the counsel of His will, who brings us into the Christian life, and who commands us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, also cares for us, provides help, and works in us. He provides comfort and hope. In Him, we also know great joy and see many blessings. We have real peace and precious promises. We are His children after all. We are His beloved!
So while it would not be accurate to describe the Christian life as “easy” in the typical since, it is also not a typical life at all. There are supernatural effects in play, and it is soul satisfying. That is way better than easy.
Additionally, Christians have been given something invaluable, something difficult to describe. You cannot know it unless you know it. Personally speaking, I might describe it like an internal, unsinkable buoy. I am referring to the upholding presence of the inner Spirit of God, undeniably bearing witness to the believer that they are a child of God.
All Christians are sealed and given the Holy Spirit in their hearts as a pledge from God. This makes the above trials and acts of obedience doable and even desirable. Yes, desirable! With each new day as we seek God’s kingdom, deny the flesh, and solider on through many trials, we find this sustaining buoy (or however one might describe it) in our hearts. Knowing it brings inexpressible joy. And when at last our life is done, we will have the best — the presence of our great God for all eternity. May we live now in all things to His glory. Amen!
I want to mention one more precious thing in the Christian life: fellowship with other true believers. This is another huge way that the Lord graciously provides. He has given us each other to walk the Christian life together. Fellowshipping with believers, praying with and for believers, loving and helping and supporting each other, learning from each other, and joyfully worshiping together are all a part of this “non-easy” life designed by God. Thank You, God, for this!
Related Scriptures for Study and Edification
(and maybe a biblical reality check)
Now to the better part… time in God’s word. Though what I’ve written above is based on the Scriptures, it would be far better and highly profitable to go directly to the source to confirm it and examine these matters more closely. My words are only my words. Exposure to the power in the word of God provides the best instruction, correction, refining, and edification. We can only benefit more by having our minds saturated with it.
The following list starts with a selection of Bible verses that relate to the six aspects of the Christian life that were focused on above. It then continues with Bible references to other topics that were touched on. To make it easier to find the verses that go with the other topics, their Bible references are listed in the order that the topics were mentioned.
This collection of verses provides a sample of support for the above, but there are other related verses. You might like to look for them for additional enrichment.
Please examine the verses below for an edifying time in the word of God. May these verses help to foster growth, deepen your joy in the Lord, and if necessary provide a sort of biblical reality check for those who may have thought that the Christian life was meant to be easy. These verses are relevant and powerful in and of themselves, but looking them up and reading them in context is even more enriching. And it is my practice to recommend reading verses in context for careful discernment, especially if you are not familiar with them.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). I would normally present all of the verses in a post in the NASB; but since there are so many verses, I need to respect the limits set in the permission for use of the NASB text.
Bible verses about study
Acts 17:10-11 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
Bible verses about service
Matthew 23:11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”
Mark 9:35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
Romans 7:6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
Romans 12:11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Bible verses about sacrifice
Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Hebrews 13:16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Bible verses about suffering
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
1 Peter 4:16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
1 Peter 4:19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
Bible verses about submission
1 Corinthians 16:15-16 Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints), that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.
Ephesians 5:21-24 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Colossians 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,
Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
Bible verses about sanctification
Romans 6:19 ESV I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 KJV For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
1 Thessalonians 4:7 KJV For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 KJV And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Titus 2:11-14 KJV For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Other topics touched on
Being selfless and denying oneself
Bearing fruit for God and abounding in the work of the Lord
John 15:2, 8
1 Corinthians 15:58
Not leaning on our own understanding
Obeying the Lord because we love Him
The Lord’s faithfulness to forgive
1 John 1:9
Christians are not alone
See also: A Short Study on the Sovereignty of God
God brings us into the Christian life
1 Corinthians 1:30
Christians are commanded to walk in a worthy manner
God’s mercy, care, and help
1 Peter 5:6-7
God works in us
Comfort from God
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Hope from God
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
1 Peter 1:8
1 Peter 3:14
1 Peter 4:14
2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1
2 Peter 1:2-4
Believers are the children of God
1 John 3:1-2
Believers are God’s beloved
The indwelling Spirit and the Holy Spirit given as a pledge
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Eternal life and the presence of God
2 Corinthians 5:1
2 Corinthians 5:8
The fellowship of believers
1 Peter 4:8-9
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