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6. A New Life of Obedience

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TOGETHER LESSON

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ” (Galatians 2:20)

The entire Christian life is to be lived by faith, not works. Other religions force their followers to adhere to a list of rules to stay acceptable. Christians should want to obey God out of love and gratitude for how much God loves us and for Jesus paying the ultimate price for our sins. Yet, we cannot live an obedient Christian life in our own strength. We must live by faith in God’s promises in the Bible. By faith, we trust the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey what God wants for our lives. By faith, we learn to obey Christ and experience a life of freedom and joy.

The Forces Against You

The Bible teaches that in the Christian life, you will face enemies that will try to keep you from being obedient to Christ—the devil, the world and the flesh.

The Devil – Satan (a.k.a known as “the devil”) is a vicious enemy who will aim to keep you away from trusting in Jesus and the promises in God’s Word. His weapons are doubt and discouragement. Do not fear him. Jesus is stronger than he is. (1 John 4:4)

The World – The culture wants to conform you to its way of life. Its aim is to keep you focused on possessions, success and other substitutes for God. Choose not to be conformed to the world but transformed to Jesus’ way of living life. (Romans 12:1-2)

The Flesh – While we as redeemed and forgiven believers have new life in Christ, we retain our old bodies in which sin still dwells (called the “flesh” or “sinful nature”). Though born again of the Spirit, our bodies are not born again, and our souls (mind, emotion, and will) are not instantly transformed. It is through this part of us (the “flesh”) that sin assaults us.

Key Question: How much does the “flesh” improve over time? 0—25—50—75—100%

1. Conflict between the Spirit and the Flesh

The “flesh” does not improve over time. It is in continual conflict with the Spirit living inside of us. As a result, we never outgrow our need to depend 100% on Jesus Christ. Our choices can change over time as we learn to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. For simplicity, we will consider living by the flesh as letting your “self” control that part of your life as opposed to the Spirit controlling it.

Read Galatians 5:16-18. How does Paul describe this continual conflict?

Read Galatians 5:19-26. Contrast evidence of living by the flesh with living by the Spirit.

Self-Control Evidences

Spirit-Control Evidences

Read Colossians 3:5-15. Contrast evidence of the two different ways of living.

Self-Control Evidences

Spirit-Control Evidences

Living by the flesh is pretty ugly, isn’t it? Would you say there is a stark contrast between the two lifestyles? Actually, at any point in your life you will be living by the Spirit in some areas of your life and living by the flesh in other areas. The evidence reveals who you are trusting in—self or Christ. The Christian life is impossible apart from Christ himself. That’s why we are continually exhorted to live by faith in Christ, trusting in his Spirit to enable us to obey him.

Key Question: Which evidences of “self-control” in your life jumped out at you when you listed them above?

Jesus wants you to trust him to live by the Spirit in those areas.

2. Choosing Wisely as You Learn to Obey Christ

Sin is ugly, very ugly! Though we have an indwelling sin nature still with us that is at war against the Spirit, we are not left helpless in the midst of the conflict. God’s empowering presence in us—his Spirit—is a greater power than sin and enables us to win the battle over sin. But, we have a responsibility as well.

Read Galatians 5:16 and Romans 13:14. In order to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh, what is our responsibility?

Read Titus 2:11-14. What does God’s grace present in his Word and his Spirit inside us do for us?

Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. Temptation is not sin, but it can lead to sin. What does God promise regarding temptation?

Whether or not we are presently tempted in a given area, we are capable of committing any sin (disobedience to Christ) mentioned in the Bible, given the right set of circumstances, time and temptation. The progression is:

  • A received thought produces familiarity.
  • Continued pondering produces a loss of repugnance and, eventually, curiosity.
  • Desires, sometimes a total surprise, are generated to experiment. The most damaging or dangerous are the ones that blindside you with a desire you didn’t even know would affect you! So, protect yourself at all times through prayer, “Lord, protect me from myself!”
  • Having tried the activity, the flesh (like a goat) can learn to like, and even grow dependent, on any sensual stimulus.

Conclusion: We never outgrow our need to depend 100% upon Jesus Christ. Recognizing this should lead us to have compassion on one another (Galatians 6:1) and to not take risks with sinful behavior!

A habit is easier to maintain than it is to start. Faith can be a habit—a good habit. Make wise decisions to protect yourself:

1) Protect your mind. Desires of the flesh do not go away but are like a fire. They can burn hot or burn down, depend­ing on whether you are feeding them.

2) Don't play with fire. Make policy decisions to keep your distance from what tempts you.

Key Question: What decisions are you making or should you make to protect yourself from what tempts you?

3. The Biblical Way for Dealing with Recognized Sin in Your Life

Most of us cannot go very long without doing something that is a work of the flesh—whether intentional or unintentional. God understands this about us. All sin is covered by Christ’s work on the cross, forgiven before it is every committed. (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14) Living by the Spirit reveals to us through the Word and through prayer what is sin in our lives and helps our repentant hearts follow through with a desire for change. When you recognize sin in your life, use the following process to help you deal with it.

Step 1. View yourself rightly.

Your identity is not “_______” (coveter, greedy, gossiper, whatever it is). You are in Christ, a child of God, who sometimes “_____” (covets, is greedy, gossips).

Step 2. Recognize (confess) the truth regarding your specific sin.

To confess biblically means “to agree with God” about what you and he both know to be true. It is not a formula nor does confession require a mediator. It is not saying, “I’m sorry.” It is saying, “I agree with you, God. I blew it!”

For example: while reading Philippians 4:12, the Spirit convicts you that you have been coveting rather than being content. You agree with God that your coveting doesn’t fit someone who knows God. That is confession.

Step 3. Add repentance to your confession.

Repentance means to change your mind about that sin, to mourn its ugliness, resulting in changing your actions. It’s saying, “I recognize what I am doing is wrong. This fills me with sorrow because it displeases you, God. Please help me to live differently.” He will certainly do that! That’s how our lives get transformed.

For example: You want to stop coveting and be content and grateful instead. So, you pray, “Lord Jesus, by faith I ask your Spirit to nudge me when I want to covet. Replace my coveting with contentment and gratitude.” That is repentance.

Step 4. Follow repentance with dependence.

Depend on the Holy Spirit inside you for that change to take place. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not interested in our compliance (outward conformity) as much as he desires our obedience from the heart.

For example: Memorize Philippians 4:12-13 and any other scriptures that deal with being thankful for God’s provision. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s nudging when you are tempted to covet. Choose to be thankful instead.

Discover more treasure: Work through your Personal Discovery Guide to review what you learned in today’s “Together Session” and discover more of the riches that are yours in your relationship with Christ.

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PERSONAL DISCOVERY GUIDE

The Christian life is to be lived by faith. Christians should want to obey Christ out of love and gratitude for how much God loves us and for Jesus paying the ultimate price for our sins. Yet, we cannot live an obedient Christian life in our own strength. We must live by faith—in God’s promises in the Bible and in the Holy Spirit inside us who helps us obey what God wants for our lives. By faith, we learn to obey Christ and experience a life of freedom and joy.

Renewing Your Mind with Truth

Continue putting truth in your mind through memorizing Bible verses that are relevant to what you are learning.

  • Review Memory Verse 1 – Ephesians 2:8-9.
  • Review Memory Verse 2 – John 20:31.
  • Review Memory Verse 3 – Galatians 5:22-23.
  • Review Memory Verse 4 – Hebrews 4:16.
  • Review Memory Verse 5 – John 13:34-35.
  • Begin working on this week’s verse – Galatians 2:20.

Memory Verse 6

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ” (Galatians 2:20)

Day 1 Discovery – Review “A New Life of Obedience”

Do not be discouraged when progress in your Christian walk does not happen as quickly as you want. Christian growth is a lifelong process. God is patient with you and will never take his love away from you. Believe that the Holy Spirit will give you victory any moment you choose to obey him. Continue being obedient, living by faith and trusting in God’s promises even when you are going through trials and temptations. By faith, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome those trials and temptations. As we surrender our lives to him out of obedience, he conforms us into the likeness of the Lord Jesus.

Have you recognized specific sin in your life that you know is ugly in God’s eyes? Follow the steps given to live in freedom from the ugliness in that area of your life. In this way, you will learn obedience to Christ. Trust the Holy Spirit to give you victory in that area.

Step 1. View yourself rightly.

Your identity is not “________________” (coveter, greedy, gossiper, whatever your sin is). You are in Christ, a child of God, who sometimes “________________” (covets, is greedy, gossips, whatever your sin is).

Step 2. Recognize (confess) the truth regarding your specific sin.

Agree with God about what you and He both know to be true. Be specific about your sin.

Step 3. Add repentance to your confession.

Say, for example, “I recognize what I am doing is wrong. This fills me with sorrow because it displeases You, God. Please help me to live differently.”

Step 4. Follow repentance with dependence.

Depend on the Holy Spirit inside you for that change to take place. You cannot do it on your own, but he can do it through you. Memorize a Bible verse that encourages you to live differently.

Praise God for how he works in your life in that area!

Getting to Know Christ

Continue reading through the gospel of Mark to get to know Jesus better—reflecting on his life, his relationships, and his teaching. Also, begin to pray regularly to your Heavenly Father. Consider praying for specific issues in your life, for friends and family you desire to know Christ, and for your personal spiritual growth. As you read God’s Word, you will want to talk with him more.

Day 2 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 11:1-19. Reflect on what you read—

Day 3 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 11:20-33. Reflect on what you read—

Day 4 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 12:1-27. Reflect on what you read—

Day 5 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 12:28-44. Reflect on what you read—

Day 6 Discover Jesus

Read: Mark 13:1-36. Reflect on what you read—

Days 7 Review and Ask Questions

Spend time reviewing what you have learned this week about your new life in Christ. Bring these to your Graceful Beginnings leader so she will know how to help you grow.

  • What discoveries have you made?
  • What questions do you have?

NEXT LESSON: Graceful Beginnings, Lesson 7. “Sharing Your New Life with Others.”

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Christian Life, Spiritual Life