“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (Psalms 16:8)
The subject of Christian living is often given only cursory treatment, if any at all. It seems as though many would tell you how to be a Christian, but overlook the aspect of practical Christian living. It is not enough that we should know the Lord, but also that we follow Him (John 12:26). We are to “…walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4); rendering our “…bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). But how is this accomplished in our daily walk?
Christian living is simply the realization of God’s presence in every minute of every day; His all-seeing, all-knowing witnessing of our every word, thought, or action. As Christians, we must be aware of “Christ in us” in order for us to truly be living a life “in Christ.” The Apostle Paul sums it up:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
This perception of living by Christ, as He lives in us, allows us to see God as an ever-present reality. It is then that we can see the glory of the Lord, know the power of His resurrection, bow to Him as our King, look to Him as our future hope of glory, and abide in His love.
The New Birth is just the start of a New Life – a life of liberty to serve the Lord, free from the bondage of sin. Let us examine the subject of Christian living for a better understanding of this often-neglected need.
I. The Effort of Christian Living: Surrender
Our text, Psalms 16:8, gives us a fairly clear indication that the effort required to live a life that demonstrates Christ-centeredness is to, first and foremost, surrender to Christ. Notice how David sets the Lord “before” himself. First, our surrendering to Christ must place Him in such a position that His Will has preeminence over our wants.
“…all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-18)
This is the true position Jesus Christ is to have in a life surrendered to Him. When we surrender, we will not only see Him as first in our life, deserving of our complete and total submission, but He will also be before us as our Guide. We will look to His Word for His Will for us.
“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Psalms 73:24)
Having so surrendered, we must take heed to His counsel, obeying those things we are given in His Word. Then, as a roadmap, the Word of God will lead us throughout our New Life in Christ. But this is only made possible when we set the Lord before us on a daily basis as He leads us to glory.
Secondly, our effort to live the Christian life involves our constant and perpetual attention. Notice our text again. Not only is the Lord to be “before” us in our surrendering to Him, but He is to “always” be so. This requires our ever-conscious attention as we “… die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31); as we die to self and live to Christ.
“Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” (Psalms 105:4)
True and complete surrender is an effort that requires our being consistently persistent. We must give unceasing submission for our surrender to be complete, not wavering in our actions or deeds – our all is for Him and His glory – lest we bring shame upon our own selves, being unfit for the Kingdom (Luke 9:62).
“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29)
“Always” setting the Lord before us involves our unceasing effort to surrender to Him and His Will for our life, as well as our doing so without reserve. So often we become selective in our surrender. We consent to the surrender of parts of our worldliness, but hang on to certain habits. Anything preventing our complete surrender, prevents even a partial surrender – since anything less than all will not suffice.
Notice that David has “set” the Lord before him in our text. As has been demonstrated, surrendering to the Lord comes with a conscious effort to do so. Jesus tells us to “Strive to enter in at the strait gate…” (Luke 13:24); Paul tells us “…So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24). So making an effort to place Christ first in our life will not be in vain.
“But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)
To “set” the Lord before ourselves further requires maintaining diligence to our relationship with Christ. It would be difficult to live a Christian life (a life in Christ) with only a theoretical relationship to our Saviour. There must be a fellowship for that relationship (eternally secured by the blood of Jesus) to have a realization in our life. This fellowship is the result of surrendering to God’s Will.
“For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50)
So we see there is an actively conscious effort required on our part to live the Christian life. There must be a surrender of our own selves in order to live for Christ. By setting the Lord before ourselves in all things, at all times, we can attain the sort of surrender necessary to walk in newness of life.