The great deterrent to victorious Christian living is the idea that once we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and believe that John 3:16 is all there is to it, our life now is on automatic pilot and we can just sit back and enjoy the ride. This is the source of a great deal of disillusionment that leads to discouragement in the Christian life.
There is no such thing as automatic pilot in our Christian experience; every step is an operation of faith that will be fiercely contested by the enemy of our soul. This kind of automatic pilot thinking leads to spiritual lethargy. Breaking out from the tyranny of spiritual lethargy -- whatever the cost -- should be the number-one priority of every Christian.
Begin with your own shortcomings. The first thing is to recognize the danger of spiritual lethargy. If you do not know something is dangerous, you are not going to stay away from it. Your attitude will be rather careless and indifferent, which is the perfect formula for a condition of spiritual lethargy. The Holy Spirit is faithful in exposing your spiritual condition. Your responsibility is to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow through on His action.
When the Holy Spirit begins to move in our life, we believe that we can change the Christian community. As always, it backfires on us, allowing the community to change us and set our standards. Mob psychology sometimes infests even the Christian community, which may explain all the dead churches in our country today.
You cannot change the community, but you can change yourself. Or rather, you can allow the Holy Spirit to change you, and that change takes place at the very core of your life. Then that inward change will slowly begin affecting the outside. The right kind of change can affect everyone around you. Spiritual awakening is not dependent on the community, but it can drastically affect the community. Like a fire that starts small can inflame everything around it, the fire of spiritual awakening within can flow through us and touch everyone around us, in effect, changing our community.
I call this influence intentional Christian living. By that, I mean we are living out the commands of Scripture, intentionally and purposefully. Spiritual lethargy results in a Christian lifestyle that is haphazard and lazy. We are not to look like or act like other people; rather, we are to look like and act like Christ. We are to do the things that Christ would do in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are a separated people, separated from the world unto God. Several things are important in maintaining an intentional Christian lifestyle.
Faith is not a magical formula or ritual, but rather it is a result of a consistent commitment to Bible reading and prayer. Much is being said of faith these days that is not the focus of the Scriptures. Faith is not some magical formula or wish that no matter who uses it, saved or unsaved, God has to act upon it. Such is religious lunacy and borders on witchcraft. True faith rises in the soul of the man or woman who will fall on his or her face before and open Bible and allow God to be God in any way He chooses.
Obedience and Surrender
In order to obey, you must hear the voice of God clearly. Again, this is rooted in my relationship to the Word of God. If we are to live a life of obedience, we must have "ears to hear." Along with this matter of obedience is surrender. Surrender is a clear act of obedience to the Word of God. Some would give God as much as 99 perfect of their life, but they want to hold on to the last 1 perfect. Either God is the Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. Our Father does not want a partial surrender. He is jealous toward us -- all of us.
An important aspect of intentional Christian living is purity. This purity is the absence of additives. The evangelical church has become most ingenious in this area of additives. The intentional Christian life is not diluted with elements of culture or religion. The purity of our life is simply the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. As I intentionally live the Christian life, I am focused on His purity, and He is living His life through me unencumbered by other things or interests.
On the surface, this looks absolutely impossible to do. And quite frankly, it is impossible in the flesh. The more I try to live the Christian life, the more I am bogged down in exterior trappings. When I put these aside and refuse to be affected or influenced by them, I then give way for God to work through me according to His agenda and His purpose. The apostle Paul said it this way: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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). It is no longer me; it is Christ in me, the hope of glory.
Enjoying God's Favor
Those of us who are utterly committed to living an intentional Christian life have one great advantage. This advantage is the way God thinks about us. God has our best in mind for the longest period of time.
What God is doing in your and my life today has implications for eternity. When Christ was on the cross, we were on His mind. The tears that flowed on Calvary were because of us.
The writer of Hebrews refers to the fact that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy before Him: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). What was that joy? It was all those who would put their faith and trust in Him and become part of the Bride of Christ. We are always on His mind.
God desires to bring our lives into the full sunlight of His favor. That requires not serving ourselves or pleasing others or ourselves, but giving ourselves completely, in absolute surrender, to God through the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. The end result is living the intentional Christian life.
Tozer, A.W. "Living as an Intentional Christian" The Danger of a Shallow Faith: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy, pg. 205-211