The Walking Dead: “life” Without Christ

By Steven Shaw

I was reading Ephesians recently and once again came across the scripture in verse 2:1 when Paul the Apostle says, “We were once dead in our trespasses and sins.” Has anyone ever wondered how in the world someone can be dead, yet alive in his or her mind and body?

I am a fan of the show, “The Walking Dead”. It has great character development and the progression of the storyline is captivating. But I couldn’t help but think of the words of Paul as well as reflect on other verses in the Bible that refer to people being “dead” without Christ. Paul is speaking not merely of the physical body, but of the spirit. A person’s spirit is dead until it is made alive through Christ. There is no hope of life without Him. We do not have life as God intended it to be until Christ is living within the person who surrenders to Him. As I continued to watch the mindless zombies on television I realized that I was one of those zombies before Christ saved me. For me, that spoke volumes about the spiritual reality that is true for all of us.

Now I know that many who do not believe will mock and say things like, “Oh sure, and just like the show, your god is made up” or “I’m not dead, I feel more alive than I’ve ever been.” Many choose to embrace a dead life and just don’t believe (this will be part of my point later). As God’s truth begins to penetrate through the person and they become alive in Christ through salvation, God makes it very clear (in an ironic way) that the life of a Christian truly starts when we die to the flesh, the world, the material stuff and when our spirit is born again. In a much bigger way, when we actually die, like physically gone, that’s when our real life begins and will never end: the greater the death, the greater the life. Nicodemus is a great example of what I am talking about. Take the time to read John 3:1-21, and you will see that Nicodemus was also confused about being “born-again” and inquired of Jesus as to how and what he needed to do to receive genuine life.

Of course many believers (as well as non-believers) will recognize this truth in a way never known before when Christ returns for His church. We are told that every eye will see and confess that He (Jesus) is Lord. Not that everyone will be saved when they confess too late, but everyone will finally realize that Christ is Lord regardless of what they want to believe. But until that day, we should have a clear understanding of the reality of sin and death, which accompanies it. Clear evidence of this is seen on the news and in the media every single day; death breed’s death and life brings life. Because of who Christ is, He is the only one that brings true and everlasting, living life. No one else has the power and authority to do this, only Christ. “In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my life, my strength, my song”.

Zombie Life: The Living Dead. Ephesians 2:2-3

Think about zombies for a second. What do they do? They wander aimlessly and are basically controlled by their fleshly desires alone. They are controlled by their dead bodies and are slaves to their dead state of mind and being. Now I know there are no such things as real zombies, but from my own personal experience in my life before Christ I was a zombie! I was controlled by my flesh, by my worldly desires and was a slave to my own lusts and passions. I couldn’t help but follow all my desires. Not free to do whatever I want, but a slave controlled by what I want.

Paul explains what we are before we receive salvation in Ephesians 2:2-3, “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.  All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Paul goes on to say,But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5). The truth is we all begin our lives here on earth as zombies. We are the walking dead who are controlled by the things of the world and who are in no way able to help ourselves get out of the state we are in. We are cursed to walk aimlessly forever. But God in His mercy has called to us in our dead state and extended His grace for us to be made alive in Christ, because of His sacrifice on the cross. Christ took that death upon Himself, and when He rose from the dead, He conquered death and in turn raised us up with Him. Christ conquered our zombie state and gave us the cure of life.

Take a moment and let the magnitude and truth of this scripture speak to you, “and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7). Those who believe and are saved will see Christ in all of His glory. Notice, that our position as believers right now is seated with Christ in heavenly places! The fullness of what that means will be known when our physical bodies wear out and we go to be with Christ. But until then, know your spiritual position, because of the work of Christ. Be what Christ has already declared you to be.

We cannot by our own power or strength to change our zombie state and to place ourselves in heavenly places. Just like a “real” zombie, we are unable to do anything to save ourselves. Paul says, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

How important it is for us to know and understand that this is God’s power and might at work and not ours? It is of God’s choosing and only through the work of Christ and only through the power of the Holy Spirit can one who is dead be made alive. Not only that but it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can continue to believe and persevere in this life as we remain surrounded by other zombies, who have yet to be made alive. As you go through your day, remember to thank God for the true gift of LIFE!

Paul finishes with this, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). This is a call to action. We are not supposed to sit around quietly in our full assurance of faith until Christ returns for us. No, we have a work to do. Now, it should be obvious by previous verses that you know we cannot earn salvation or God’s favor through our works, deeds or actions. However, we are responding to the call that has been given to us by God who has planned out all of our good works in this life to do for His people in order to glorify Him to the fullest in this life. Christ is at the right hand of the Father in heaven while we work to make His name known here on earth until He returns and takes us up for the life we were meant to live. Amen!

So What?

You might be thinking, “How can I make a difference in this world?” or maybe “How can I make Christ known?” The first place to start is to recognize that your daily life is your ministry; it doesn’t matter what type of work you do, or where God has placed you, there are people everywhere. People God has put around you for a reason. And people are a major part of the Kingdom of God. Ask God how He wants to use you in your daily life and then follow His leading. You will see. People will be open to you praying for them, you sharing your faith and they will notice something in you that they don’t have; it’s called LIFE! And this is why the gospel is called, “The GOOD NEWS”.

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Contributing editor credit: Lisa M Johnston, Th.M. and Pastor/sozofreedom.com

Music www.TheShawsMusic.com

Podcast www.MisfitMinistry.com

Instagram @psalmlife @fitcore @theshaws

 

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Flat-Lined Christianity (Kiddie Pool Faith)

By Steven Shaw

I feel the need to address a very specific problem with today’s Christian, and have addressed similar issues in past blogs because of continual errors that repeat their cycles again and again. Please hear me when I say that I am far from being a “perfect Christian” (of course, we are all works in progress) but I strive to be faithful to Christ and to live according to what the Bible clearly communicates about what a Christian is and is not. We are called to be the light of Christ in this world, and failing to be that light not only negatively impacts our personal relationship with Christ, it also wreaks havoc in a world that is already reeling from people choosing to live in a lukewarm state of Christianity. This is no small thing nor should it be taken as me being overly critical, or self-righteous. I come to you from a place of humility and urgency because I have been just about every version of a bad Christian imaginable and know the dangers of living in a “flat-lined” place. Your life in Christ not only affects you, but it also affects the world around you. It is easy to fall into a complacent state of laziness and I believe for many, it can be something that is not even recognizable. We live in a culture that is more than comfortable with compromise, mixture and religious activities that have absolutely nothing to do with living a life for Christ and one that is inline with the Bible.

So, what is a “flat-lined Christian”? This is the Christian who dives into the kiddie pool when they first get saved, but never get out of the kiddie pool and dive into the adult pool. Their faith remains in a shallow place and there is no depth to their understanding of God’s word, and there is no genuine, lasting transformation. Some in this place passionately embrace religious, legalistic opinions and do not recognize that the teachings they follow reflect a Christian life, which is undeveloped and immature. This undeveloped “flat-lined” state is a dangerous thing. Lost souls hear the call of Christ and accept His invitation to know Him and make Him known, but it goes no further than repeating some prayer in church, bouncing around from Christian conference to Christian conference, attending shallow bible studies and the most dangerous of all, planting a church or starting a ministry that perpetuates and then creates more flat-lined Christians. Don’t get me wrong- church, conferences/meetings, bible studies, are not bad in and of themselves. What is missing is true discipleship and accurate teaching of God’s word.

Ephesians says if we mature in Christ and grow in His truth, As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (4:14, NASB). My point is our growing knowledge of the things of Christ should not be merely based on a prayer that we have repeated, or what some current, popular “pop-psychology” Christian is teaching. Our growing knowledge must be based on the personal study of God’s word, accurate teachings of God’s word and application of what we are called to do according to the traditional, enduring teachings of the Bible. Acts 17:11 tells us, Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (NASB).

How does shallow flat-lined Christianity create shallow flat-lined churches? Shallow churches may not necessarily be churches that produce false teachings (although there are a fair amount of those) some shallow churches leave people in their infancy in their faith, because the leadership of that particular church does not have depth. The entire congregation remains “stuck” in a flat-lined place and before you know it, attendance is down, people are discouraged and all are wondering why they are failing in their endeavor to have a church. And worse of all, they doubt God’s power and even existence. This scenario produces compromise and eventually anything and everything is allowed to take place in a desperate effort to try to save something that is weak and dying. A wise man once said, “The most frightening thing is a baby’s mind with a man’s strength”. That’s true physically and even more true spiritually.

If you are still not getting this, let me explain it this way. Think of the process of building a home. The ill-equipped Christian is like the one who purchases a parcel of land and begins to build a magnificent house on the dirt but fails to build a solid foundation before construction. They come to the land with a goal and plenty of tools to get the job done, but alas no foundation. The foundation, if you don’t know, is the most important part of the house. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the home, how strong the structure is, how well equipped the house is, or even the outstanding blueprints that have been designed to build that house; it will collapse at the first gust of wind that comes along or will sink as the ground gives way to the weight of the structure. Without a strong, solid foundation to hold the house upright and in its place, it will fall.

An example of this from a biblical foundation is found in Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” You see, without a firm growing foundation on God’s words we are children being tossed all around and are tricked and schemed and carried about by every weak and false doctrine out there. And there are many.

A Christian, who comes to Christ after receiving His Spirit, may possess all of the zeal and desire in the world to make a change but a new Christian who has no foundation; like the house will possess weakness and will not be able to weather the storms when they come. Their immature, overzealous and impulsive decisions make for a dangerous situation for other Christians and as the world continues to watch the people of God, they see disaster and turn away from the weak and broken Christian and church. How do we avoid such catastrophe? We need to be constantly checking ourselves and testing our faith, to make sure we are growing, learning and diving deeper into the inexhaustible truths laid out for us in scripture.

2 Corinthians 7:1 says,

“Therefore, since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

Since we have these promises, wait what are the promises? Oh, that will be another blog because we must know the promises in order to have depth in God’s truth! But in context of 2 Corinthians really sums up our assurance in Christ. We must cleanse ourselves; this means learning, growing and always stripping the ways of the world off of us (Genuine spirit-led transformation!) We not only strive for purity of the body, but holiness of our souls. This is only achieved by God’s sustaining of His people. We can only endure in the faith by the will of God. We can only glorify Him by the strength He gives us. So what shall we do brothers and sisters? Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide (or remain) in me” (John. 15:4).

There is a warning here; children (new Christians and those who are or have been flat-lined for a long time) need solid teaching, discipleship and HELP! Like all children or those who need to mature, they cannot do it alone. They need guidance and teaching to help them into the adult pool. We can be that for others, but first we must do the personal work necessary so that we don’t remain in that weak, broken place. This is the importance of the church. Strive for Him in every way, in all things let us walk in this life victorious, as we draw people to Christ while giving Him the most glory possible.

Are you or is anyone you know flat-lined? Perhaps now is the time to self reflect.

I pray this blesses you and encourages you.

Closing.

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Contributing editor credit: Lisa M Johnston, Th.M. and Pastor/sozofreedom.com

Music www.TheShawsMusic.com

Podcast www.MisfitMinistry.com

Instagram @psalmlife @fitcore @theshaws