It’s been on my heart for a long time to write something for people who have more recently begun their walk with God. From watching friends, I know how hard it can be to step out of your old lifestyle and into your new identity in Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I still sin and forget God’s mercy and love and have to give myself a wake-up call. I simply wanted to write this post so new(er) Christians can remember God’s grace and their identity that relies solely on Him. So let’s dig in and remind ourselves we never have to have it all together.
“Stepping out of your old lifestyle” does not always mean leaving a drastic lifestyle of sinning. While that tends to come with getting saved when you are older, it more often means putting faith in someone other than yourself and embracing a new heart of optimism. Both of these things are difficult for new Christians and “old” Christians (including me). Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” While “desires of the flesh” does and can mean pre-marital sex, excessive drinking, lying, etc., it can mean something much more simple and overlooked: forgetting that you need God’s grace beyond salvation.
As Christians, we tend to forget that we still need to actively keep our relationship with God outside of church and small group. While attending church regularly and being a part of a small group or community of Christ followers is extremely important, our own personal relationship and understanding of God is even more important. The first step to this is understanding we can’t “clean up” our lives without God’s grace. We also must understand that the less we sin does not mean the less we need His grace.
Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” By grace alone. Everything God does for us is by grace. By grace, we have been saved. By grace, we continue to grow in faith. By grace, we become better versions of ourselves every day. It is not on our own but with His grace that we become new and strengthened every day.
As much as I or your pastor or small group leader could preach this to you, you really cannot fully understand it without having that relationship with Jesus. This relationship comes from worship, prayer, and the Bible. Make these three part of your weekly routine and you will quickly see how your relationship with God flourishes beyond what you could have imagined. We are not made to be perfect for 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” We are made to have an intimate relationship with God that relies on grace and time spent with Him.
Understanding God’s grace and making Him the first priority in your life is the first step. When you regularly attend church, surround yourself with Christ-followers, and work on your own time to make a relationship with Him, the desires of your flesh will slowly fade away. I still can tell a difference in myself when I have spent more time with God. It’s easier to not make dumb decisions, it’s easier to stay away from sin, and it’s easier to be loving, forgiving, and peaceful. When God is your top priority, His grace will eliminate the desire to sin and promote the desire to love more.
Don’t forget how important a relationship with Him his. You needed His grace yesterday and you will still need it today and tomorrow. We are humans who often make mistakes and continue to need mercy to become better and wiser. You are doing better than you think you are. Rely on God and all the rest will simply fall into place.