The Thing About the Abundant Life
I was talking to someone this past week who was making his return back to the Lord. He told me the story of his salvation, his baptism, and how just a year ago he felt like a clean, brand new man. Then, he proceeded to tell me how immorality grabbed a hold of his life. He told me how the offering plate passed a few weeks ago and he didn’t put anything in it, yet he didn’t mind spending all of his money on anything and everything he could possibly buy for his girlfriend. He told me how he realized at that moment that God was no longer in His rightful place. An idol in the form of his girlfriend had taken God’s place and this man told me that he wanted God to be first in his heart and life.
Of course I was excited for this man. At the same time, I realized something that I have never thought of before. God loves us unconditionally. Now, I know that isn’t some big revelation to most of the people who will read this, but I’m not finished. Even though the love God has for us is unconditional, the abundant life that God offers us is absolutely, 100% conditional.
God miraculously saved me through faith in Jesus Christ. I felt everything this man felt after being saved and baptized. I was clean and I was brand new. So, why was my story eerily similar to his? I did the same things this man did after I got saved. Money, girls, guitars, and golf clubs all at some point in my life were placed in God’s rightful place. I didn’t mind spending a few thousand dollars on temporary, stupid stuff, but would complain about giving God a few hundred dollars. My heart wasn’t right and I felt far away from God. There is no way God wants me, you or anybody else to feel defeated and separated from Him, so what must we do?
Well, I don’t have a “quick fix“ answer, but what I do know is that when we come to faith in Him, He saves us from two things. The first thing is eternal and nothing can separate us from that eternal gift. We are and will be saved from the eternal consequences of our sin. The second thing He saves us from is the sin that lives inside of us. Unfortunately, this sin does not immediately go away. Even Paul struggled with this and said that the things he wants to do he doesn’t do, and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does (Romans 7:15). You and I still have to make choices. God gave us minds to continue to make choices. If you consistently make good ones, then and only then will you begin to experience the abundant life. If you make bad ones, you will be telling your pastor stories like this man was telling me. You will be telling stories like I told the men of God I looked up to when I didn’t like where my bad choices led and how they made me feel.
Bad choices that go against what we know to be the known will of God will always lead to a defeated spirit within us. The first part of John 10:10 says “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Are you letting him? Satan’s primary way of stealing from you is to offer you an alternative decision to the one that God wants you to make. Remember the garden of Eden? God said “don’t eat from the fruit, or you will die.” Satan said “go ahead, eat it, it will make you wise . . . like God.”
They made a choice. They chose to reject the known will of God. That choice did not separate them from God’s love, but I guarantee you they felt like it did. Adam and Eve made an awful trade that day. They knew what was right, but chose the alternative. Once again, it did not change God’s love for them . . .
But, it did keep them from experiencing God’s best. It kept them from the abundant life.
What choices will you make today?
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. — 1 John 2:28