Do you have a “life verse”? I have met people along the way who have a variety of Spiritual journeys and life experiences, and I find it extremely interesting and encouraging to hear how God speaks through different passages of Scripture at different times to impact our lives. The Bible is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword”, and God speaks through it to teach us “everything that we need for life and godliness” (Heb 4.12, 2 Peter 1.3). We see this exemplified as we walk through life, experience trials and difficulties, turn to God and are strengthened and purified by His Word. Some people have been so marked by one experience – typically the salvation experience – that they have a verse that marks their life. Some of us cling to promises for a season, and thus a particular passage is forever etched in our mind and reminds us of God’s work during that time.
Burying one friend per year from my freshman year in High School to my junior year in college, I wanted very much to be able to say, as Jesus said,
– John 17.4
As a young person experiencing so much death, I developed an eternal worldview and was highly concerned about the salvation of the lost and focusing my time and energy on things that would matter in eternity.
When gripped by an irrational fear of flying which impeded my life and kept me from serving God, I clung to His sovereignty over my life and circumstances:
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”
– Heb 1.3-4
If Jesus is continually speaking all things into existence, that included me and the airplane on which I was flying. Praying this truth and getting on the airplanes eventually freed me of this stronghold in my life.
But perhaps the verse that I most desire to mark my life is this well-known sentiment of Paul:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
– Gal 2.20
This is a beautiful summary of the Christian experience. We can argue about legalism and grace, we can debate if it is God’s sovereignty that saves people or their own free will. But in order to know Christ, we have to have heard the Gospel, understood our sinfulness, confessed and repented, and then begin living a transformed life by His power. Our flesh must be crucified so that we can live Spiritually. And when Jesus gives us Spiritual life, He is the one who lives it through us. We are mutually responsible here: “but Christ lives in me” shows us that God is indeed the one working in and through us to bring about our sanctification and holiness, and “the life which I now live…I live by faith…” shows us that we are still aware of our lives, we are dying to ourselves and choosing to walk by faith.
It was never Jesus’ intent to die on the cross to give us “freedom” to live however we want to live. He did not give us a license to sin or live like the world. He set us apart to love lavishly, give until it hurts, die to our sin and our flesh, and continually grow in righteousness. However, He remarkably gives us His Spirit to enable us to do all of these things because we are utterly incapable of any of them on our own strength. Jesus was the perfect example and died a sacrificial death in our place. He then teaches us that if we want to save our lives, we must lose them (Matt 16.25). But then He promises to abide and remain in us, enabling us to obey the commands and follow the examples He gave (John 15.4). To put it simply,
Jesus gave up his life for me
that he might take my life from me
that he might live his life through me.
Have you been crucified with Christ? Is it no longer you who lives, but Christ living in you? Do you thus live your life by faith in Jesus? Let’s not stop at step one, let’s understand the full picture and allow Him to purify us by taking our sinful lives away from us and living through us.
What does that mean? It means spending time in the Word and in prayer, every day. It means when we are going about our days, that we listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is His job to convict us of righteousness and of sin: so if you hear a warning bell i your heart as you contemplate an action, stop! If you feel a nudge to share, to love, to reach out – do it! It means that we apply the truths of Scripture to our lives, so if the Bible says that something is a sin – even if we do not feel guilty about it – we stop, and we ask God to help us stop. If the Bible says we should do something – even if we do not want to do it – we do it and ask God to enable us to do it! We submit to His authority, we die to ourselves, we ask Him to change us and we stand in amazement as it happens! You may find that a verse stands out to you in a season, helping you and enabling you to do just that. Cling to those fighter verses and life verses!