Aug 12, 2021

Christian Living

4 Min Read


Christian living describes an enormous number of issues, but it can be summarized by the question Francis Schaeffer used to ask: “How shall we then live?” The word Christian is used to describe someone whom God has brought out of darkness and into His marvelous light. The “living” has to do with our response to salvation. We can summarize the Christian life under five headings:

  1. What effect the gospel and the law have on our lives
  2. Growing in our knowledge of the Word
  3. Growing in our relationship to the triune God
  4. Growing in our relationships with other people (specifically in the family, church, and world)
  5. Growing in our character so that we become more and more like Christ.


Christian living starts with the good news of Jesus Christ. This good news is not good, though, unless we first understand the bad news that the law delivers: we are sinners in need of salvation. Once the law has convinced us of this point, the gospel shows us the solution to our sin problem: Jesus Christ. We find salvation by receiving and resting in Christ alone. Moreover, the Bible says clearly that salvation produces a changed life. The subject of Christian living explores the nature of that change. At its core, the change is new birth, which also involves a change in our relationship to the law and to the gospel. Once we are in Christ, the law no longer condemns us, but offers itself to us as our guide for the Christian life.

The Christian life involves the application of the truths of Scripture in practical ways. Therefore, we must grow in our knowledge of the Scriptures in order to see both the meaning and the application that flow from the Scriptures. The key here is to note the relationship of meaning to application. We must understand what a passage of Scripture means before we can properly apply its truths. Otherwise, we might misapply the text and go backward in our Christian walk. So we must grow in our knowledge of how to rightly identify the meaning of Scripture.

The knowledge of Scripture we gain has its first and primary application in our relationship with the triune God. In knowing Scripture, we come to know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit better. We come to know the triune God who reveals Himself as Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. The more we know the triune God, the more we will love Him. The more we love Him, the more like Him we will become. In this way, as G.K. Beale says, we become like what we worship.

In turn, knowing God better results in a more accurate picture of who our neighbors are in the family, church, and the world. God’s love for us in the gospel will result in our love for God (the first four commandments), and our love for our neighbors (the last six commandments). The Christian life is properly understood as the life of love: love toward God and love toward neighbor. Our love, in turn, is based on God’s love for us in the gospel. We love because God first loved us.

When all these factors are taken into account, and love for God and neighbor grow in us, our Christian character takes shape. Our character must be cruciform, full of the fruit of the Spirit. This happens through a dual process of mortification and vivification. That is, by God’s grace, we put to death the old man (mortification) and grow in our new life in Christ (vivification).

The goal of the Christian life is the glory of God, whether in life or in death. Whatever we do, we pursue the glory of God in all things.


The big idea of the Christian life is to live all of one’s life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and to the honor and glory of God.” (R.C. Sproul, “The Goal of Christian Living,” in Pleasing God, teaching series)

R.C. Sproul

The Goal of Christian Living

Pleasing God

Ever since Christ himself, who is our Head, ascended into heaven, it behooves us, having laid aside love of earthly things, wholeheartedly to aspire heavenward (Col. 3:1ff.). Ever since the Holy Spirit dedicated us as temples to God, we must take care that God’s glory shine through us, and must not commit anything to defile ourselves with the filthiness of sin (I Cor. 3:16; 6:19; II Cor. 6:16). Ever since both our souls and bodies were destined for heavenly incorruption and an unfading crown (I Peter 5:4), we ought to strive manfully to keep them pure and uncorrupted until the Day of the Lord (I Thess. 5:23; cf. Phil. 1:10). These, I say, are the most auspicious foundations upon which to establish one’s life. One would look in vain for the like of these among the philosophers, who, in their commendation of virtue, never rise above the natural dignity of man.

John Calvin

Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.6.3