(Photo: Dan Delzell)
Do you realize just how dramatically your lifestyle influences what you believe? It really does, just like your beliefs greatly influence your lifestyle. It is a cycle, and a circle. It keeps going around and around, unless you get off that merry-go-round and get on a new one.
Oswald Chambers described it this way: "The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience."
When you or I as believers disobey the Lord in some area, we are placing our spiritual life under a cloud of sorts. Things get rather fuzzy, at least in that area of our thinking. When a believer continues to commit the same sin over and over, he is in danger of believing "that's just the way I am" and the way I am going to remain.
Deception happens all the time in the lives of believers and unbelievers. If a believer is not extremely careful, and prayerful, he may truly start to believe he will never stop committing a particular sin. That false belief flowed from his lifestyle choices. What perhaps began with an awareness of a behavior being sinful, eventually turned into a rationalization that maybe it's not really such a big deal. After all, "everybody's doing it."
Chambers nails it again when he writes, "The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern."
Our lifestyle will always sway what we believe. It will either contribute to the cloud of darkness that hovers around our spiritual sensitivities, or it will increase the amount of enlightened understanding we receive from the Holy Spirit as we meditate upon the Scriptures and seek to live for Christ. Choices sway the beliefs of both believers and unbelievers. The dark cloud is a reality whenever sin is pursued and practiced. Likewise, God's light is shed upon the hearts of the obedient.
An interesting fact is that you cannot even begin to obey God until you first submit to His plan of salvation. Until you repent and believe the Gospel, you are powerless to obey God. Obedience can only be carried out by God's children. Those outside of His family are incapable of pleasing God or obeying Him. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6) Faith brings us into the family. Obedience demonstrates that we love our Savior. Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching." (John 14:23)
The Bible warns God's children about what happens when people walk in darkness. "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:17-19)
Has your life been just one continuous circle of impurity and spiritual ignorance? There is not one of us who is capable of getting off that merry-go-round unless the Lord forgives us and gives us a new life. Jesus came for sinners, and not for those who thought they had it all together. So do you have it all together, or do you recognize your need for God?
If you do not yet know Christ as Savior, your lifestyle of unbelief is keeping you from entering a relationship with your Creator. The practice of ignoring or rejecting Jesus is a practice which definitely impacts all of your beliefs. The only way to break free is to repent and believe the good news.
Jesus came to this world to die for our sins. If you will believe it and receive it as you turn to Him, He will enter your life so that you can walk with Him and talk with Him everyday. If that spiritual conversion happens, your lifestyle will change for the better. Christianity influences both how you live, as well as what you believe.
Jesus said, "The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." (John 12:35,36) If you are walking in darkness today, you may already sense that your daily choices are keeping you in a dark place. It doesn't have to stay that way.
This may be your moment to start on a new path. Are you ready for a change? It's not too late to put any deeds of darkness behind you as you confess them to Christ and trust in His death for your forgiveness. What good have those dark things ever done for you anyway?
Always remember: Your lifestyle sways your beliefs, and your beliefs produce your lifestyle. There is simply no getting around it.