There is nothing wrong when, after a person is saved, he/she starts to watch how life is lived, especially, regarding being right with God.
One’s salvation does not totally remove the need for personal discipline: God will not kill a person that has decided to tempt you. Rather, your decision to either fall into the temptation or come out of it strong is, solely, dependent on you – working with the Holy Spirit.
It is, however, true that, when you are resolute to live above any temptations – God will make a way of escape for you. Hence, the Bible says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”. Philippians 2:12-13, NIV.
Do we then have to be stonedead afraid?
Our relationship with God, the moment we are saved, is that of a loving father and a child that needs protection: we are no longer going to be on our own. Instead, God will start to guide us, instruct us, protect us, provide for us and (even) demonstrate his glory in and through us.
In this phase of our lives (new life), we do not relate with God in the sense of a relationship that exists between a slave and his/her master: no, we do not live in the fear that God will destroy us the moment we fall short of his standards, neither are we (blatantly) required to observe some strict rules in order to please God – as we walk with Him.
To address this issue, we must have a little understanding of two sides that are detrimental to our Christian race in pleasing God, which will (then) help us to maintain balance in our faith and obedience to God.
Legalism is not spirituality, libertinism is not abundance of grace
The Bible clearly says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”. Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV.
It is interesting to realise that the issues of legalism and libertinism are addressed in the passage above: those are the upward and downward extremes of Christian practices.
This is the practice that encourages individual’s deliberate attempts (after salvation through grace) to pleasing God by extreme self denial, usually carried out in form of: avoidance of certain amenities; choosing to live below the standard of life; choosing to live in poverty – not interested in getting rich; always conforming to situations that do not move one a inch towards progress – not because of the ‘longsuffering’ gift of the Holy Spirit; observing religion rites and doctrinal beliefs; and many more – that emphasise self struggle to live holy.
On the hand, is what has (now) been recognised in the 21st century church as the hyper-grace Christian faith.
Of truth, it is an hyper grace, because it plays down on being circumspect: it upholds absolute freedom for a Christian. It, in fact, does not encourage individual Christian to have outward appearance of his/her new identity.
For example, when a materially-driven, extravagant person is now born again, libertinism will not encourage that person to place checks on the motive of his/her accumulation of materials and extravagant life: although, being a Christian does not take one out of being fashionable, but the motive behind what one does when still in the world compared to when one is born again must not remain the same – libertinism does not concern itself with that truth.
How then can we work out our salvation?
The answer is simply, moderation: as said, above, being a Christian does not take out our senses for fashion, good tastes, but there must be moderation in our outward appearance.
It is true, though, that outward appearance is not even the hallmark of spirituality. Yet, being a Christian will, ultimately, influence our outward appearances in terms of: dressing, dispositions, communications, obedience to the rule of law, teaching of the word of God, how we treat others, how we represent the kingdom of God among others.
It is, therefore, expedient that we live according to the principle in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
Constant examination of ourselves is required to working out our salvation from the perspective of grace, and not that of works: in fact, our works, self efforts, cannot help us to live a holy, righteous and godly life.
Rather, we are to keep with us, all the time, the fact that Christ has bestowed grace upon us to live – in this world, as his representatives; that we have the ability, not of ourselves but Christ’s to live above sins and temptations.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:8-13, KJV.
Are you saved? Then, you are redeemed – you must, now, be living that God kind of life: perhaps, you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, please, where you are right now – pray to God, confessing your sins and asking Jesus to come into your life.