LIVING AS A BELIEVER
Nevertheless, each of you should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to you, just as God has called you. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. (1 Cor. 7:17, TNIV)
Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. (1 Cor. 7:17, NIV)
1 Corinthians 7:8-24.
The Scripture passage above provides deep insight into the mind of God and the manner in which he deals with his saints, in times past and in the present times. Here, the Apostle was speaking on the all-important issue of marriage relationships and lays down certain guidelines. He relayed both the direct instructions he had from the Lord and his own judgments as one called of God, in cases where there were no direct instructions from the Lord. Then, he concludes by saying that each person should live as a believer in whatever situation they were called by God. This is the verse which has become a deep source of instruction to us today. He goes further on to explain by saying that the circumcised should remain circumcised and the uncircumcised should remain uncircumcised. Slaves and freemen alike were to serve God in the situation they found themselves. Neither religious nor social status mattered in the sight of him with whom we have to do. We must not forget either, that this statement was initially made in respect of marital status. So whether married to an unbeliever who is willing to stay or divorced from one that is not willing to stay (or even remarried afterwards), live as a believer.
What does it mean to live as a believer? It means firstly, that you give priority to the word of God as the ultimate authority in all matters in your life. The scriptures have been given for our guidance, comfort, instruction, correction, warning, reproof and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). All of Scripture was inspired by God and is therefore the all-time letter of God to his saints. This we must note in a world full of philosophies, false knowledge and deception, so that we can avoid the spirit of error. The next mark of living as a believer is prayer. God’s word is full of instructions and admonitions to us believers to pray. Prayer is the means through which we access God’s power to effect changes around us. This is how we establish God’s kingdom in heaven here on earth; by intercessions and supplications with thanksgiving to God regularly. Another mark of one who lives as a believer is personal fellowship with the Holy Spirit of God who has been given to guide and instruct us after the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven. You must yield your heart to the Holy Spirit and be led by Him through the word (Rom. 8:16). The last mark of one who lives as a believer we shall examine is the art of fellowship with fellow believers. This, the scriptures warn us not to neglect (Heb. 10:25). Corporate fellowship affords us the opportunity to be comforted and encouraged by others in our times of weaknesses and trials, and to contribute to the lives of other believers in diverse ways.
So what is the point in all this? The point is the priority of God as it concerns our lives. His priority is that we live as a believer, whatever our situation, status or condition in life. His primary concern is that we manifest the life that Jesus came to impart to us through his life, death, resurrection and ascension to heaven; that we bear the fruits of the Spirit which is what the husbandman seeks (Jam.5:7) and that we fully access and utilize the heavenly resources at our disposal in doing this (Eph.1:3). Live as a believer. That is the ultimate objective of God. And it is important to note that this objective is not without the hand of God in mind, because the Scripture says ‘…in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to you…’ So God himself assigns us to certain situations to bring out the flavor of the Christian life in that situation. After all, he wants to make known his manifold wisdom to the powers and principalities in the heavenly places (Eph.3:10). By this, the scripture means that God is revealing his many-sided, multi-dimensional wisdom to the world by bringing believers to victory regardless of their external status or situation. And this he is doing, in a world where your welfare would ordinarily depend on your status and condition. Indeed, he is a wise God!
Every believer must take this truth to heart and learn to live by it. Often, we as human beings desire changes in our status or situation in life. God is not against this. He loves for our condition to improve and our status to get better. The Apostle says that if slaves can get their freedom, they should (verse 21). So this reflects the mind of God to us. But he also emphasizes, more importantly, that we should not be troubled if we cannot change our status, because we belong to God, and so we should reckon things the way God reckons them. The slave is the Lord’s free man. The freeborn is the Lord’s slave. The poor is rich in the Lord. The rich should know that his riches are fading and only the word of the Lord will last. Everyone should reckon themselves, not by their natural heritage, but by their spiritual heritage in Christ Jesus our Lord. We therefore do not need to become desperate about changing our status to the extent of contradicting the word of the Lord, because we know that God in his wisdom is able to make all things work for our good and for his glory. Our own priority is simply to live as a believer in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. By so doing, we will be fulfilling the will of him who has called us to his own glory and virtue and to manifest his manifold wisdom to the powers and principalities in the heavenly places. Hallelujah!
October 8, 2011