4 May 2020
By Iain Sanders
I would like to talk to you about the seven habits of highly effective followers of Jesus Christ.
The way we see life, people and relationships, very much affects how we react and how we respond in different situations and circumstances to what is happening around us and to us.
In this article.
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Key challenges for Christians.
One of the challenges we face as Christians is that we tend to be preoccupied with sins of commission and not sins of omission. What is a sin of commission? A sin of commission is something like adultery, pornography, alcoholism, drug addiction, stealing, cheating, lying, gossiping etc. They are all things that have been done; whereas, a sin of omission is something that we should do that we have not done. An example of a sin of omission is not making an effort to show love or mercy towards someone in a time of need, or when someone has an obvious need and I am in a position to meet that need but I chose to ignore it.
I think one of the problems we have involves the words we use to define “sin”, and how we define and apply them. There are three words in the Bible to describe “sin”: iniquity, transgression, and sin. A “sin” is a blatant (rebellious) refusal / disregard to accept a transgression or iniquity as wrong, or unacceptable to God, or a rejection of God’s standard and position on the matter. A “transgression” is any specific ‘act’ of sinning or falling short of the “mark”: God’s standard of righteousness concerning the matter. An “iniquity” is any predisposition or propensity to fall short of the “mark”.
I believe we can build on these scriptural definitions in such a way that it will help us fulfil God’s destiny for our lives. So, I would like to suggest the following definitions for “sin”, “transgression” and “iniquity”.
Sin is any belief, attitude, thought, word or deed that stops us from fulfilling our potential in Christ to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29), which is to become the very best version of ourselves that is possible.
Transgression is any act that undermines our ability to fulfil our potential in Christ to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Iniquity is any pattern of behaviour that habitually prevents us from fulfilling our potential in Christ to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Living victoriously in Christ.
Therefore, how can we apply these insights to help us live victoriously in Christ at all times? I believe the key is to reframe our lives in such a way that we see our lives from God’s perspective: in a way that motivates and challenges us to grow and thrive in the purposes of God, to become all that God desires for our lives, and accomplish all the things God wants us to do with Him.
If we reframe our lives as a treasure hunt, God can give us the map to seek out the treasure He has hidden in every situation, circumstance, crisis and opportunity for us to discover, so we can grow and transition through that situation or crisis and become a better version of ourselves, and conform ever more closely to the image of Christ.
In order to do this, I would like to suggest seven habits of highly effective followers of Jesus Christ.
A compass to navigate.
If we reframe our lives as a treasure hunt in the natural world around us, we will need a map with a compass to navigate the territory of our lives effectively. I believe the map is the “Word of God” and the compass is the Holy Spirit. The territory of our lives includes our physical location, relationships, workplace, church, community of associations and spheres of influence in the world around us. We need to view the map of the Word of God through a lens of possibilities and opportunities to please God, rather than through a lens of problems and mistakes to avoid.
Graham Cooke helped me discover a new way of interpreting life’s challenges so I could reframe every situation I face as an opportunity for breakthrough and transformation. Here are the seven habits of highly effective followers of Christ I have discovered as a result.
The seven habits.
Together, these habits spell "redo map".
- R stands for Rest in the Lord: “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
- E stands for Expect a breakthrough: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
- D stands for Delight in the Lord: “take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
- O stands for Outcome already guaranteed: “for we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
- M stands for Meaning demonstrates God’s sovereignty: “for we have the mind of Christ to will and act and fulfil His destiny for our lives” (1 Cor 2:16, Phil 2:13 paraphrased).
- A stands for Actions delivering results: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
- P stands for Pray in the Spirit (spiritual tongues): “and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18a).
Seven powerful questions to ask.
Here are seven powerful questions to help you exercise breakthrough for transformation in every situation you are going through:
- I Rest in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross:
Am I fully submitted (I surrender control) and committed (I trust God's solution to prevail) to you now Lord?
- I Expect breakthrough for transformation in Christ:
What can I expect from you now Lord?
- I Delight in Jesus Christ’s infinite love for me:
What can I thank you for now Lord?
- My Outcome is established in Christ forever:
What outcome have you assigned to me Lord?
- This Means God has everything under control:
What does this mean to us now Lord?
- My Actions are revealed, directed, enabled and fulfilled in Christ:
What shall we do about this now Lord?
- My Prayers demolish strongholds and everything that exalts itself above God:
Am I tuned to the flow of your Spirit Lord?
A renewed mindset in Christ for overcoming every situation or crisis you are facing.
James 1:2-5 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”.
Here are some principles for applying these seven habits that I learnt from a YouTube message by Graham Cooke entitled "Building the Right Mindset".
You have the mind of Christ to will and act and fulfil His destiny for your life, for you can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives you strength (1 Cor 2:16, Phil 2:13, Phil 4:13).
Your starting place (in any trial or situation) determines the outcome.
Find out what outcome has been assigned to you in Christ Jesus.
God has a point of connection with Him for every starting place you face to guarantee the outcome in your favour.
Find out what this situation or trial or issue or opportunity means from God’s perspective.
Find out what you must do with God to grow and thrive through this experience.
Breakthrough for an upgrade for transformation and promotion comes when you are no longer impressed with the size of the problem.
Ask God to do whatever it takes to fulfil His destiny in Christ Jesus for your life.
Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not upon your understanding, in ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall make straight ALL your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Everything begins with asking the right questions, for example:
- How should I respond to this situation?
- What should I prioritise?
- How do I go about it?
- What is the outcome needed?
- How will I find out what I need to know?
- How should I monitor my progress?
- When will I get there?
Pray in the Spirit (in spiritual tongues) into clarity and the flow of the Holy Spirit:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12).
Watch in the Spirit into vision and discernment:
“…now nothing you have imagined you can do will be impossible for you.”
“…and nothing will be impossible to you.”
“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfilment.”
[And you] “know that God can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of His can be restrained or thwarted.”
[And] “according to your faith and trust and reliance on the power invested in Jesus it will be done to you.” (Paraphrased from: Gen. 11:6, Matt. 17:20, Luke 1:37, Prov. 10:3, and Matt. 9:29).
Here are my concluding thoughts on this matter.
The most precious substance in the universe is the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for us so that we can be reconciled with God. All that it takes to avail of this priceless gift from God is to trust what Jesus has accomplished for us and abide in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Our faith in Christ is the most precious thing we can offer our Creator in response to what He has accomplished on our behalf through Jesus Christ. We are caught up in a cosmic conflict of epic proportions to contend for our faith. The good fight of faith is the real war we face daily to contend for God’s plans and purposes to be worked out through us in Christ.
Faith works by love because we are loved by God. If we are loved by God then we are excited by the possibilities that God’s love brings.
Every issue, circumstance or situation is an opportunity to think brilliantly about God, and right thinking always generates faith. Therefore never ever let an issue, circumstance or situation rob you of your identity in Christ.
Everything is held together by Jesus Christ, and we are in Jesus Christ if we have accepted Him as our Lord and Saviour. Therefore, everything we face is in Christ with an outcome He has already assigned to us individually!
Therefore, every setback, breakdown and disappointment is a setup for a breakthrough in Christ to transform a problem into an opportunity for growth and promotion in Christ! This is the Kingdom of God, and Jesus taught us to pray: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness (the life of Christ manifesting through us), peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
Furthermore, Jesus said:
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31b-32).
So there you have it, seven habits of highly effective followers of Jesus Christ to live triumphantly in Christ regardless of what is happening around us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do, (and) I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (2 Cor. 9:8, Eph. 2:10, Phil 2:13).
Here are the words of a popular gospel song that beautifully sums up the message I’ve tried to convey in this article:
I’m being changed, changed, changed, from glory to glory.
I’m being rearranged by the Spirit of God.
I’m transformed, transfigured, translated into Jesus’ Image.
I’m running His race, beholding His face, receiving His grace, and I’m changed.
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