When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are told that we are new creations in Christ. But often times, we don’t feel new at all. In fact, we probably feel exactly the same as we did the day before. So, what changes, exactly, when you accept Jesus into your life? Pretty much everything! Here are 8 tips for you as new believers in Christ and scripture to help guide you.
If you do not know the story of Christ, let me briefly share. Jesus is the Word made flesh, meaning that he is the one who the prophets spoke of even before he was born as a baby in Bethlehem. Even though he was God, he gave up his place in heaven temporarily to take on the form of a servant and was obedient to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-10). He did this so that everyone would know, and be restored to, the one true God. He led a sinless life though he was tempted by Satan many times and he allowed himself to be crucified so that our sins could be forgiven.
1. Live by faith.
The short of it is, God loves us so much that he left his place to make sure we could be with him for eternity. When we accept Christ, his sacrifice on the cross covers us and his Holy Spirit dwells in us. What that means is that we now have the power of the Most High operating in us. We are no longer depending upon our own knowledge or strength but seeking the wisdom of the one who had made us new. We have faith and believe. Though we may not understand it all, we trust in what we cannot see and leave it in God’s hands.
2. Trust God, not feelings.
When you first accept Jesus into your heart, you may not feel like a new creation, but Paul reminds us that indeed we become new people when we accept Christ. Does it mean that we will change our names, move, quit our jobs, etc.? Well, that is usually not the case. However, the Holy Spirit is known for turning people’s lives upside down (in a good way).
We all have our struggles in life and engage in certain sin that may have more of a hold on us. The bible clearly tells us that sin is sin in God’s eyes. That means we should not justify any sin no matter how small we think it is. Nor should we feel condemned by the weight of a sin we think is more serious. Though sin may be heavy to us, it cannot stand against the power of Christ. With that said, even when you don’t feel made new, trust what God is doing in your life.
3. Do not let your past haunt you. Instead, read the Bible so that you may be equipped with truth.
It is so easy to get caught up in the things of your past. The enemy will have you believe that you are not new at all. He will tell you that you are the same exact person you were yesterday. You are the person who lied, did that terrible thing, fornicated, and let people down over and over again. He is the Father of Lies and so he will try to make you believe that Jesus’ power is not enough to overcome everything you did. But surely if you just think about it, you will realize that the One who created the whole entire universe is strong enough to make a way for you. And if you just spend sometime in his word, you would get a picture of how much he loves you and how much he wants you to succeed.
4. Re-evaluate relationships and seek Godly friendships.
You may have to put some distance between people you were once close to. I’m not suggesting you dump all of your friends, but you should definitely look into making new relationships with people who are like-minded. It’s in no way because you are better but because it is important for you to be around people who can offer encouragement, support, and edification. For example, if all you do with your friends is drink and party, you may want to remove that temptation. You can make an effort to find different things to do with them, but if they are not willing, you may want to separate for a time. We are called to be a light in the darkness and there’s no greater gift you can give a friend than sharing Christ with them. However, you may not be ready for that right away, and the temptation of old friendships may do more harm than good. It is also important to share what you are experiencing and learning with people who will help you figure it out and point you in the right direction.
5. Find a church family and attend regularly.
Many people say that they are spiritual but do not attend church. They have many valid reasons which may include church hurt, false teaching, or “hypocrites” they have encountered at church. I ask that you not let these things stop you. If God saw fit to include this in his instructions to us, it is for a good reason. If you feel that you are under a false teacher, pray about it. God may have you speak to the pastor or release you from that congregation and move you to another. However, he will not leave you without a church.
The enemy is the one who tries to plant discord, drama, and doubt. He understands the power of community worship, solid biblical teaching, and a group of believers gathered together on one accord. He wants to stop that power and isolate you. Please, do not let him.
6. Repent and pray about everything.
We do not have to carry the guilt or baggage of any past sin. However, grace is not a free pass to do whatever we want because we have been redeemed. With that great gift comes responsibility. We have the responsibility to listen to and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit that resides within us. Does that mean we will never sin again? Certainly not. We are still human and may struggle with certain things more than others. However, we now have the power of the Holy Spirit which helps us escape temptation and gives us the victory over sin. When we sin, we can repent and let Christ help us. It is truly a heart issue and we just need to be aware of the state of our heart and what motivates us most, our own desires or doing the will of God. In order to grow closer to God and to understand his will for our lives, we must constantly seek him in prayer.
Related: Finding Beauty in the Broken
7. Live counter-culturally
Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices means to put God’s will ahead of our own. It means being good stewards of what he has given us and using our bodies for his glory. There are many things that do not honor God but that we have grown so used to because of present-day culture. For example, sex before marriage has become somewhat of a joke or only for weird, prudish people. That is what we have been taught by the media and culture, but that is not what the scriptures teach us. The closer we get to God and the more we read his Word, the more truth we will acquire. That is the only way to renew our minds. You can test what you are told by comparing it to what the scriptures say. We are to look at things differently with new eyes. We are not to walk the same way we once walked.
8. Humbly share what you know and speak the truth in love
It is important for us to use the knowledge God is giving us each day to encourage and teach others. We must follow the example of Christ when he was on this earth. He didn’t look down on sinners like the Pharisees did, but he spoke truth to them and loved them as they were. In the same way, we must not be afraid to share the truth found in the Bible with those who don’t know. It may bring conflict because when people are living in sin, they do not want to hear truth. From my experience, I had grown quite comfortable in my sin and preferred to justify it than change. However, I am so grateful to those who spoke truth into my life because they planted the seeds that I needed in order to change for the better.
Have you accepted Jesus into your heart? If not, I would love to pray for you via phone or email at [email protected]