What experiences should we expect and look for in our christian lives? Many christians today look for emotional ‘highs’, but these are often followed by emotional ‘lows’, because they are purely human experiences, are not specifically christian, and can be found inside or outside christianity.
When one is born again he or she soon find changes in their desires, tastes, and enjoyments. These are welcome changes, which we know are not of ourselves, but the effects of the Holy Spirit working within. They confirm to us that we have truly fixed all our hope of salvation in On Jesus Christ, and his substitutionary death on the cross in the place of sinners. We know that we are RightWithGod. These changes also confirm to us that God has begun a work within us which is His alone, and which He will most certainly complete: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)”. It is the beginning of what the bible calls ‘sanctification’, in other words, being made holy. This work will continue until death, and will have its final completion when we pass into the immediate presence of Christ in heaven, or when He returns to this earth, and He receives us to Himself to be with him forever: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2)”.
Let us now look more closely at these changes in desires, tastes and enjoyments. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” It would not be possible in this short space to cover all that is included in the “all things”, a few thoughts may help.
The born-again believer will find that there are things which previously ruled his life, and held him in their, spell have less and less attraction to him: the company he kept, the entertainment he enjoyed, the lusts which tempted him and the ambitions that motivated him. He finds that, although these things are still there in a less prominent way, they no longer satisfy, and he finds them less and less engaging some of them even repulsive. It is all beyond his understanding, and all his attempts at explaining this are useless; except one: that God is working these changes in him. To reach this conclusion is a massive, difficult and humbling experience, but there is great peace, relief, and even joy in reaching it.
It greatly helps, that new desires and satisfactions take the place of the old. The new desires are, firstly; reading the bible with the conviction that it is the word of God where the christian finds his own experiences mirrored, especially in the book of Psalms, located right in the middle of the bible; secondly there is the enjoyment of the company of the people of God; thirdly there is the inexhaustible pleasure of learning more of christian truth by reading the bible, listening to good, biblical preaching, and reading good christian books; fourthly, although we will always have to battle against the lusts which continually move within us as long as we are in this body, we find ways of dealing with these things, mainly by avoiding the places, company, reading material and entertainments which give occasion to these lusts. We are involved in the battle against indwelling sin: a sure sign that we are true christians.
There is also the great and very important area in christian experience, of new longings. We shall look at these next week, if the Lord will.