Allow me to illustrate for you a brilliant analogy that I heard from a speaker some time last year:
When one visits any farm or ranch, there are certain recognizable characteristics that most people would notice right off the bat. Perhaps the image of a big red barn... maybe the rolling, striped fields alive with crops.... and most certainly, they will notice the smell of fertilizer, animals, and hay.
Let's take a walk through that farm. We we saunter along the dirt tractor trail towards the big red barn, the musty, thick smell of hay and animals surrounds us. We can begin to hear the baying, the lowing, and the faint clucking of the farm animals just inside. The ranch is a big place- we can see the cows a ways away... some are grazing in the pastures, but some are coming back towards their pens. Hens and roosters are contentedly strutting around the farmyard, pecking at seeds scattered over the earth. There's even your typical farm cat- a beautiful orange tabby- taking a nap while balanced perfectly on the wooden gate. Everyone and everything is where it should be. Everything is just right. Except...
We hear a 'baaaa,' the sound only a sheep would make. We look around, trying to find the source of the bleating. We look to the green fields, where the flocks of lambs and sheep are normally seen grazing, but the noisemaker isn't there. No, as we turn around towards the barn, we see the little woolly fellow. He's bathing in the mud. We had seen the spot earlier, and had assumed it was the pigsty. It is nothing but a pit of deep, oozing muck, and a few troughs of rotting leftovers. The stench is nearly unbearable, but there we see the little lamb frolicking in the filth, alongside the swine.
If you came across such a bizarre scenario, what would you do? You would obviously realize that something was wrong. You might laugh, take a picture, or try to coax the lamb out of the mud, and back into the fields. You may try to contact the farmer, let him know he has a sheep living with the pigs. In any case, something would need to be done. Why?
Because sheep do not belong in the mud....
....just like Christians do not belong in sin.
We are walking around claiming to be Christians. That means we are claiming to have been completely transformed from our old selves. And that means we are claiming to have DIED to our old self. We have been transformed into completely new beings- as drastic as a filthy pig transforming into a pure, spotless lamb. Something is wrong if we are continuously returning to the sin that we have been forgiven for. Something is wrong if we continue to live like we did in our old life, and if we try to fit back into our old skin. It doesn't match up. We don't belong there anymore.
1 John 1:6-7~
So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son cleanses us from all sin.
We have all been adopted into a holy family- God's family. We were adopted when His own son died for us. So what are we doing, going back and back and back again to the habits of our old nature?
Often times, people do not realize what it means to "become a Christian." It's a term that is used frequently, but it is so often misinterpreted. Becoming a Christian is not a snap of the fingers, and it is not a magical process. Perhaps a better term would be "Committing to Christ." When we confess our sins, and believe in Jesus, we are literally committing our lives to Him. We are signing on to an agreement to be His slave, and His child. We are promising to strive, in every aspect, to live our lives like He did. (1 John 2:6)
1 John 3:9~
Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God.
John the apostle made it very clear the black and white equation. Nowadays, we can fall into portraying forgiveness and Christianity as fire insurance. We sometimes talk about it as though it is a last-minute resort- it's just good coverage. It's there if we need it, or in case of accidental death. Many people have forgotten that it is not just a 'Get Out of Hell Free' card- it's a call to a mission. A mission to live holy, pure, and blameless lives- and to be the image of LOVE in this world. We have made it sound like Christianity has nothing to do with works- that what we do does not mean anything. We are starting to make it sound like once you have "become a Christian," you are free to go on living in whatever way suits you, because you are guaranteed paradise for eternity. But here's a little piece of information that might scare you just a little. What you DO matters. I know in my case, I have been taught quite the opposite. Let these verses prove this fact to you.
1 John 3:10~
So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil.
Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other
believers does not belong to God.
1 John 3:18-19~
Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other;
let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth,
so we will be confident when we stand before God.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God has prepared in advance for us to do.
So you see, faith by itself isn't enough.
Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Look these verses up in your Bible and see the examples the writers gave about Abraham and Rahab, read them in context. These are just summaries of the writers' main ideas: Faith without deeds is NOTHING.
To end off, here is a quote I read not too long ago- and boy does it ever hit home. Hopefully it convicts you, as well.
"I refuse to entertain myself with the things my God went to the cross for."
Wow. Read that again. Pin it up by your computer. Put it somewhere in your phone. Put it by your bed, on your desk, by your TV, wherever you need it. We take God's gift of salvation and grace SO lightly... after all that He has done for us, we are no doubt indebted to Him. We owe it all to Him. Our souls, or works, our loves, our dreams, our lives.
We've been called to be his sheep. We've been baptized, following His example of dying to the sinful nature. Does your internet history reflect that of a sheep, or a pig? Does the way you speak indicate that you live in the mud, or the grass? Does your attitude and lifestyle match your claims to being a believer? If the skin of your old nature still fits, it's time to take a gooood look at yourself and figure out where you stand.
So let's jump out of the mud, because that's not where our shepherd is. He has called us to bigger, and greater things. Let's be a holy people. Let's live in the Bible, and RUN from sin so that we can have fellowship with God.
Just to shake things up, let's actually do what we claim to believe in.
It's time to transform.