Congratulations on making the best decision of your entire (and eternal) life! You have just embarked on a magnificent journey. From now on, nothing will ever be quite the same again. In order to help you along your Christian walk, I would like to offer a little advice.
Read the Bible.
Remember, you have been born again; and like a newborn babe is helpless and totally dependent upon his mother, so are you spiritually helpless and totally dependent upon the Lord Jesus. And, as a baby needs nourishment so that it may be healthy and grow, so does a babe in Christ need spiritual nourishment so that he may be spiritually healthy and grow. That nourishment can only come from the Word of God.
Some believe that every one of the hundreds of Bible versions available has some truth; and that if you combine them all, you will have God’s complete Word. This is untrue, however, because none of the versions agree in key areas of doctrine. Depending on them all will ultimately lead to confusion, and God is not the author of confusion. My advice, therefore, is to choose one version over the others, and put that version to the test. If it passes muster, then stick with it. For good reason, I personally believe that of all Bible versions, only the King James is the inspired, inerrant Word of the Living God.
Because everything in the Bible ultimately points to the Lord Jesus Christ, then your first objective should be to get to know Him better. The best way to do this is to first read one of the Four Gospels, written by the Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each Gospel sees the Lord Jesus through the eyes of that particular writer; and, though all contain similar accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, there are things recorded in one Gospel that are not recorded in another. The Gospel of John, for example, emphasizes Jesus’ humanity, while the Gospel of Matthew, places greater emphasis on Jesus’ deity. My suggestion would be to start with either of these two books.
Then, study the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, to learn of the growth of the early Church after the Lord Jesus ascended into Heaven. Learn about the miraculous deeds of the Apostle Peter as the Church faces persecution by the Jewish authorities. Read about the martyrdom of Stephen and James, and the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus. And read the Bible account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch by the Apostle Philip: the only account in the entire Bible where a person confesses Jesus as the Son of God before he is baptized. Every morning, read one of the Psalms of King David to learn how to pray and how the Christian is to respond to different situations.
While any time is a good time to read the Bible, you should set aside a specific time every day when you can read undisturbed. Because the Bible is a spiritual Book, you must not read it like you would a novel. Always pray before you read, asking the Lord Jesus to open your understanding and reveal to you His great truths. When you are finished, thank the Lord for being with you during your time of study, and to help you to meditate on those things you read and help you to apply them to your life.
Reading the Bible is important, but studying the Bible is even more important. The Apostle Paul writes:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightfully dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
To study the Bible, as opposed to reading the Bible, is to read it with the purpose of learning something. When you sit down to study the Bible, therefore have a pen and paper handy, so that when the Spirit reveals something, you are prepared to record it for future reference, research, or introspection.
The Word of God is one way God speaks to us, but prayer is the only way we can talk to Him. Prayer is the most important part of the Christian life. Religiosity has made prayer a great mystery, but it is actually very simple. Praying to God is no different than talking to anyone else, the primary difference being that, as the Creator of the universe, God is entitled to our respect and reverence. Various religions have static prayers for different purposes (such as a book of common prayer), but this is pointless. You would not ask your friend to use his car in the same way you would ask the police to protect your child; neither would you thank someone for helping you carry your groceries in the same manner you would thank someone for lending you some money to pay your light bill. It is the same way when we talk to God. Just as our needs are different, so should our prayers be different; and just as our needs are more or less pressing, so should our prayers reflect this.
When we talk to God, we should not place much emphasis on what we say or how we say it, as the Bible says that the Holy Spirit translates our prayers for us. It is not what we say therefore that is important; it is what we mean. Scripture says:
“[T]he Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
The Holy Spirit knows our hearts and understands what we mean to say when we go to God, so you shouldn’t be concerned that God won’t understand your language or way of talking. You don’t need to learn any special “church words” to talk to God, or think that you will offend Him because you speak the language of the streets. God created both language and the streets, and therefore understands both.
We should also not believe that because we are talking to God, we need to be on our knees for hours or pray long drawn-out prayers. The Lord Jesus said that God already knows what we need before we even ask Him; so we should just come straight to the point. Pray only as long as the Spirit moves you to pray.
Though prayer is essentially a simple matter, there are a few guidelines we should observe:
- Pray in the name of Jesus.
- Pray with confidence.
- Pray that God’s will, rather than our own, be done.
- Pray until you get an answer.
- Watch for God’s answer to our prayer.
- Thank the Lord Jesus for hearing our prayer even if we don’t get what we want.
The Bible says,
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The moment you made the Lord Jesus your Savior, you literally became a completely new person. You are no longer the person you were before you got saved. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you may see the same person; but you are not the same person you used to be. That is because God now lives inside you through the Holy Spirit. He has also begun in you a process called sanctification. To sanctify means to set someone or something apart for a special purpose. God has set you apart from the rest of the world so that you will be a living example to others of the way He wants His people to live.
God has already sanctified you spiritually, but you have to sanctify yourself physically. That means you must set yourself apart from the rest of the unsaved world. That doesn’t mean you should avoid people, but it does mean that you can’t do many of the things you used to do before you got saved. You can’t go to the places you used to go, for instance, if God would not approve; and you can’t say many of the things you used to say, if God would not approve. And you have to be very careful what type of people you hang out with, as they may influence you to fall back into some of your old habits. You can still see your friends and family, and, in fact, you should; but, now, your purpose for seeing them should be more than to just hang out. You should be looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with them. You should want to see them get saved too.
As you sanctify yourself, you may find that many of your family and friends will treat you somewhat differently than before. They may not call like they used to, and they may not come to see you as often as they did before. If this happens, do not be angry with them, as this is merely part of the sanctification process. While you are separating yourself from your old life, God is separating your old life from you; and He is ensuring that those who may be offended by your new lifestyle won’t become an obstacle to your spiritual growth. It can be painful, but it is necessary.
Confess your sins.
Most Christians believe that when we get saved, God forgives all of our sins–past and future; but the Bible says that God forgives only the sins we committed before our conversion. Scripture says:
“God hath set forth [Jesus] to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25).
Any sins we commit after our conversion have to be confessed individually as soon as possible. Scripture says:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
“But if we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8,9).
If we do not confess our sins, it will be as though we sinned knowingly; and the blood of Jesus will not cover those sins. Scripture says:
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).
Because no true Christian willfully sins, then the implication is that if we don’t confess our sins, then it is as though we are sinning on purpose, and our present sins will not be covered by the blood of Jesus. Sins not covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus are under the Old Covenant; that is, the Law; and the Law could only remit sin temporarily by an animal sacrifice. God did away with animal sacrifices when He offered up His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not accept any more sacrifices. If you want your sin to be forgiven forever, therefore, you must confess them to the Lord Jesus.
Because most Christians are not confessing their sins, they are living under the Law and not under grace. This is why many are suffering needlessly from the same things as the unsaved.
Confess any generational sins.
Generational curses are a major stumbling block in the lives of many, if not most, Christians. A generational curse is a curse that God puts on the descendants of a person who has committed a sin so reprehensible that it makes God absolutely furious. God calls this kind of sin an abomination. Abominable sins can be found in the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, and include, but are not limited to, idolatry, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, astrology and witchcraft. God hates these sins so much that He will curse the children of a person who commits them up to four generations.
The sin that God hates above all others is idolatry, about which, the Lord commands:
“Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image [statue] of anything in heaven, anything in earth, or anything under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for the Lord thy God is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children unto the third and to the fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:4,5).
If you think about it, the sins I have listed have been glorified so much and for so long in music, television shows, and movies that they are not even considered sin anymore. Even many Christians are guilty of these sins. Because sin has become so accepted today, I would venture to say that most of us are born under a generational curse, which is why so many Christians are suffering from mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and clinical depression and are struggling with substance abuse.
Generational sins must be confessed just like all other sins, in order for God to remove the curse from a person and his descendants. This is done by going to God in the name of the Lord Jesus and confessing those sins you know you or your parents are guilty of and asking the Lord to forgive both you and your forefathers for those abominations you committed. Read more about generational curses and how to be delivered from them here.
Don’t quench the Holy Spirit.
Ever notice that whenever we do something we should not have done, we will often say “something told me not to do it?” That “something” is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always warn you when something that you’re thinking about doing is not a good idea, especially if what you’re thinking about doing is sinning. Get into the habit of listening to that “small still voice” and obeying it, because it will keep you out of a jam. The Bible says that when we ignore that voice, we “quench the Holy Spirit.” If we do this often enough, we will begin to have a cavalier attitude towards sin; and, at some point, our hearts will harden, and we will see God as a killjoy.
DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN!
…TO BE CONTINUED