The pressure we have both from the outside and inside can distract us from living the Christian life. Yet, the Bible says we can live with poise – be confident, steady, stable, and balanced. It says we can become and stay prepared and that God has given us what we need to overcome the pressure. To do this, though, we need to have the right mindsets.
As the Holy Spirit guided me through some tough seasons in my life years ago, I developed two mindsets that stand firm still today.
- No one else is going to determine the status of my relationship with Jesus.
- The world will distract and corrupt me if I do nothing to prevent it.
Since then, God has confirmed these mindsets repeatedly through is word.
Guarded and Firm
“Take a firm stand… and be strong in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:9)
“Be on your guard… stay alert and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6)
“Don’t become tied up in this world’s affairs.” (2 Timothy 2:4)
Adding to the emphasis of these broader directives, God also gives more specific guidance for developing the mindsets needed for living the Christian life.
- Don’t be fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ (i.e., another Gospel), try to excuse sin, or claim to have prophetic revelation about Jesus’ second coming (i.e., false teachers). (Galatians 1:7; Ephesians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3)
- Don’t be intimidated (i.e., frightened by threats or aggression; timid or anxious; overawed) by your enemies. (Philippians 1:28)
- Don’t be led astray by empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that comes from human thinking and the evil powers of this world. (Colossians 2:8)
- Don’t waste time on endless speculation, godless ideas and old wives tales, or godless, foolish discussions. Stop listening! Stop talking! (1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:20-21)
- Don’t be misled by evil desires of the flesh that lead to evil actions which lead to death (James 1:16). The world offers many temptations (i.e., opportunities to be misled by our evil desires/gratify the flesh), but God has given us the tools necessary to overcome and find the way through these pressures.
- Don’t slip backwards and live like you did when you were ignorant of what God wanted (1 Peter 1:14).
- Watch out for the errors of wicked people that can cause you to lose your secure footing and for deceivers and antichrists (2 Peter 3:17; 2 John 7-8).
- Be aware of those who want to lead you astray and who keep on sinning because they don’t really know Christ (1 John 2:26; 1 John 3:6-7).
- Be diligent (i.e., careful; consistent, regular), so you don’t wander beyond the teachings of Christ and lose fellowship with the Father and so you know the truth. (2 John 8-9).
- Be careful of bad examples, of those who can shipwreck your faith, of those who grumble, complain, and do whatever they feel like, and of those who are loudmouth braggarts and flatterers (3 John 11; Jude 12-18).
If you take a minute to think about each of these, you can probably come up with an example of their reality in your life. Consider how the people you spend time with, your habits and systems, and the information you read and hear might all be evidence of the need to be guarded and to stand form.
We don’t have to wonder how to live the Christian life. The Bible directs us in the mindsets that help us know what actions do and don’t contribute to our growth as Christians. We do, however, need to stay very aware that mindset isn’t enough.
“Make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God.” (2 Peter 3:14)
Effort is required and necessary to always be on guard and stand firm. We must be careful and think about how this world is impacting us.
“Be careful how you live, not as fools, but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do… Let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” (Ephesians 5:16-18)