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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Characteristics

Charles Stanley - The Characteristics


Charles Stanley - The Characteristics
TOPICS: Living the Extraordinary Life

If someone should ask you to describe the Christian life, how would you describe it? Would you describe it on the basis of how you live your life? Would you describe it on the basis of maybe the people you look around and see who claim to be Christians? Or maybe you would describe it on the basis of some person that you feel is living a little better Christian life than others, maybe someone who is renowned, or someone who has popularity or prestige, or someone who's recognized as a very significant Christian. Or would it be that you would describe it on the basis of someone who helped you personally? You see strength in their life, and so therefore that would be your idea.

Well, I think all of us would have to face the fact that according to the biblical standard of the Christian life, that over a period of time, we have sort of brought the standard down. And it's just human to bring it down to where it's more convenient, where it doesn't demand too much of us. We go to church, read the Bible, pray, sing, give, but when it comes to righteous living, when it comes to godly living, when it comes to living the kind of life that looks more like Jesus, somehow, somewhere along the way, we've decided that's a little too high for us, and so let's bring the standard down. And as a result, what we've done, we have sort of settled for a settled-for Christian life. In other words, you don't have to work too hard.

You don't have to try too hard, not too much faith. In other words, just enough to sort of get by. And many people trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, and somewhere along the way, nobody either has ever taught them or they never heard that once you're saved, then you begin to grow in your Christian life, and that growth is growth into Christlikeness. And yet somehow, we have forgotten the standard. What we have is oftentimes many weak churches because we have so many weak Christians who've looked around at the world, saw their pattern, and decide I'll have one foot in the world, one foot in the church. A little compromise never hurt anybody. And you see, you can live a settled-for life or you can live an extraordinary life.

Now, we're talking about the extraordinary Christian life. We're talking about living the life that our Lord Jesus Christ intended for us to live. Listen to what Paul says in Romans chapter eight, verse twenty-nine. He predestined, that is, God made a decision. He settled this once and for all. He has predetermined in His will for every single one of us that you and I, as he says, would be conformed to the likeness of Christ, conformed to the likeness of Christ. Somebody says, "That's impossible". Wait till you hear the message. Then I want you to look in Galatians chapter two and look in verse twenty. And Paul wraps it up like this, because in this verse is Paul's heart, soul, and mind.

Listen, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me". Paul says there was a time in my life when I walked away from my past. He says, "I died to the life that I was living". He says, "So therefore, in this life that I'm now living, it is no longer I, Paul, but it is Christ who lives in me, and the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God". Here is the heart of everything the Apostle Paul believed. Here's the underlying theology, here's the underlying truth that governed his actions, his speech, and everything about him. And what he was simply saying is this: I have moved from that settled-for life that I was living. I choose to live an extraordinary life.

So, this is the beginning of a series entitled "The Extraordinary Life". And some time ago, I was reading the biography of George Whitfield, who lived seventeen fourteen to seventeen seventy. And he was a giant spiritually. Came from England, spread the gospel of Jesus in Scotland and across England and into America, had an impact on colonial America, preaching the gospel. Very few, if anybody, ever reached his statue when it came to powerful preaching of the gospel. Here's what he said. He said, "I pray daily, 'God, make me an extraordinary Christian.'" He didn't go on to explain it, but that was his idea. He knew what he meant. And, as I think about what the Christian life is all about, the Christian life compared to life around us is an extraordinary life. Listen to this, "It is no longer I who lives, but it is Christ who lives in me".

So, what I want to do is this. I want to answer the question: What does the extraordinary life look like? Here's what I believe it is. The extraordinary life is one in whom Christ is dwelling, living on the inside of us, and in whom, listen, the very presence of Christ is seen in our actions, He's heard in our language, in our speaking, and He's felt in our very presence, and through whom, that is through you, Christ is making a strong, godly impact upon others. Now, that's a whole lot of difference in being saved, going to church, giving your money, having some prayers, and just sort of maybe serving God in some fashion. Listen to this, in whom Christ is dwelling.

When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, the Bible says, listen, that Christ came to live on the inside of you. Jesus spoke of, listen, spoke of abiding in us. And the truth is, God intends for you and me to live the kind of life that He can so live through us, listen, through you, that people, listen, see Christ in you in such a fashion that they watch your actions and see something of Jesus. They listen to your speech and see and hear something about Him or can tell that you're a Christian. And in your very presence, they feel something on the inside of you, something on the inside of you that indeed helps them to understand you're not just somebody, there's something special about you, and the something special about you is the very living presence of Jesus Christ.

Now, with that in mind, I want to give you fifteen characteristics of the extraordinary life. I'm going to number them all, so you be sure you get them all down. And the first one is this: it is a divine life. Because remember, when you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, the Bible says you were sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is, listen, it is a divine life. You have the living God living inside of you, and the Bible says that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And I want you to ask yourself through each one of these points: Do people see this? In other words, do people see this in me? Paul said, "No longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me". Do my friends, does my family see, do they see this in me? So, first of all, it's a divine life.

Secondly, it is a life with purpose. That is, many people live their entire lives with no purpose. The extraordinary life has a sense of purpose. That is, the purpose is to walk in the will of God, to do the things that God would have you to do, become the person that God would have you to become so that your life counts. It is a life of purpose. Many people go to work, their only purpose is to get it done and to get paid, and to live for the next weekend. Many people will live their whole lives, and if you say to them, "What is your purpose? What is your primary purpose in life?" they can't answer it. It's a purposeless life. It has no sense of direction. It has no definition. It's just existence. The extraordinary Christian has a definite purpose, and that purpose is to live out the will of God, to bring Him glory and honor by the life that you and I live. It is a definite life of purpose. Likewise, it is a life of faith.

When you think about who the Christian is, we receive the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Bible says, by faith. Paul says, "The just shall live by faith". Many people live by their feelings, they live by other people's opinions, they will live to get accepted. They live with difficulty, hardship, trial, they blame God, they turn away from God. People live with all kind of aspects of faith. You and I are to be extraordinary Christians. We're to live in such a way that, no matter what we face in life, we're going to trust Him because we believe He's in absolute control of our lives. It is a life of faith. When you and I live the extraordinary life, our faith level is going to keep growing till you know what happens? Finally fear and anxiety and worry are banished, why? Because we've come to the conclusion our God is trustworthy. He is in absolute control, He's trustworthy. And so, whatever I'm facing in life, He's going to deal with it no matter what.

There's a fourth. It is a life of continuing surrender. And most people don't like the idea of surrender. Most people want to be in control of their life. They want to be in control of every facet of their life. They want to control their children, control their finances, control the situations and circumstances. And we are responsible for every facet of our life. But under, listen, under the authority of the Son of God. When we talk about here the life of continuing surrender, here's where we run aground. Listen carefully, the scripture says that Jesus Christ is Lord. The two most primary themes of the New Testament preaching are these: the Resurrection of Christ and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Many people want to be saved, and they receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. Either no one teaches them or they just decide, well, I'm saved, so this is the way I'm going to live.

Do you know what the Lordship of Jesus Christ means? The Lordship of Jesus Christ means that I acknowledge that He has the right to control, to dictate, to guide, to lead my life in every single area, with no exception. When you acknowledge that He has the right to govern and to guide and to boss your life, then here's what happens: you take this awesome leap forward in your Christian life because now He's in control. Listen, so wisdom is in control. Love is in control. Omnipotence is in control. That is, this God who lives on the inside of you now can take this temple of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by Himself, and now what? He can help you to become the person you ought to be, achieve the things that God wants you to achieve in life. That's who He is, and this is His will and purpose for our life.

Number five, the person who's living an extraordinary life is going to live a life of joyful obedience. Now, am I saying to you that every time God requires something of you, it's just joyful and you're just happy as a lark and you just can't wait to obey Him? No, it's not. Because some things He's going to require of us are difficult. Some things may not even make any sense. Some things will be very hard for us to figure out how in the world can I do this? And yet, you know what? There is a joyful obedience that comes, and here's the reason. The extraordinary Christian life is, listen, is willing to obey God when it's easy, when it's not easy, when it's understandable, when it's not understandable, when people will agree, when they will disagree. And here's why. The extraordinary life has learned that obedience to Him, that is, doing what He would have us to do, following His Word becomes joyful because we understand that it's wise. And not only that, it has the most reward.

And so, we, listen, we can become joyful in obeying Him, watch this, not because what I'm feeling at the moment. It may sting me at the moment, it may bring me pain at the moment, it may bring me embarrassment at the moment, but you know what? Obedience to Him is joyful because you look beyond the present moment and see the end result. And listen, the end result is this: that obedience to God, listen, always brings blessing. We obey God, leave the consequences to Him, He always turns it for our good, Romans eight twenty-eight. Almighty God in His awesome love always turns it for our good. Therefore, we can obey Him pleasantly and joyfully.

Then of course, number six, it's a life of prayer and praise. An extraordinary Christian is a praying person. They pray about everything, they don't leave anything un-prayed for. They pray for themselves, they pray for others. They pray for the Lord's work, they pray for people around the world. In other words, prayer is the heart of the life of the believer. What I'm simply saying is this: God is so personal, He hears your prayers. He wants you to pray. He wants you to live an extraordinary life. But it's a choice you have to make in life.

Then of course, number seven: it is a life filled with the Holy Spirit. A person filled with the Holy Spirit is a person who has surrendered their life to the Spirit, and here's what they discover: when the Spirit of God is in control of your life, which is a decision you make, He begins to energize you. He will empower you to accomplish and achieve things you absolutely could not achieve and accomplish without Him. And you have the right and the privilege to say to Him, "Spirit of the Living God, give me wisdom. Spirit of the Living God, give me divine energy. Give," listen, "give me physical energy, Lord, to do what I need to do this day".

Then of course, the next one is, number eight is a life of total dependence. Now, some people think just depending on the Lord Jesus Christ, that's a sign of weakness. When I hear the world say, "You Christians are just sick. You Christians are weak. You Christians are dependent upon this God," I want to say to you, my friend, absolutely correct, absolutely correct! We are dependent upon Him because we've learned that is the wisest, smartest way to live. It is the most intelligent way to live because, think about it, when you're dependent upon Him, you're dependent upon what? His wisdom, His love, His power, His guidance, His direction, His supply. Total dependence upon Him. Listen, reaching, listen, reaching so deep into who God is that no matter what's going on in life and how inadequate we feel, we just know when He's in it, we can do it. And it's not a matter I can handle it, it's a matter of He can do it through us.

Then of course, number nine is a disciplined life. Oh my goodness, nobody likes that. Think about this, if you do not live a disciplined life, it'll affect your prayer life: you'll pray spasmodically. You won't read the Bible except spasmodically. If you an undisciplined life, it'll affect the way you dress. It'll affect the way you do your job. It'll affect whether you get there on time or five minutes beforehand. It'll, listen, it'll also reveal what quality of work you produce no matter where you are. Because a disciplined life, listen, a disciplined life is a life, listen, not regimented, but a life under the control of the Holy Spirit within you because you have allowed Him to control it. To be an extraordinary Christian, we accept discipline, listen, not as a difficulty or something that obstructs us, but something that enables us. It is an attitude of the mind and the heart. And the extraordinary Christian is certainly going to do that.

Then number ten: it is a challenging life. I would never say that living an extraordinary life would be necessarily easy. There are times in our lives when we all face difficulty, hardships, trials, suffering, pain, loss, loneliness, you name it. We all face those things at different times in our life. And so, if somebody says, "Well, this extraordinary life ought to be able to eliminate all of that". Well, it didn't eliminate it in Jesus's life. Didn't eliminate it in the Apostle Paul's life.

And down through the centuries, listen, some of the godliest people you have ever met in your life were people who had a lot of heartache, suffering, and pain, but glowing in their countenance, smiling. You could tell, listen, you just knew when you met them, you was in the presence somebody who knew the Lord. When somebody meets you, what do they think? Who do they see? Do they see Somebody on the inside of you that's so evident they just know that you're not that normal Christian who just does those normal things, but there's something different about you. It's the message you send, it is Christ living inside of you. That's part of being an extraordinary Christian.

Well, I would say number eleven is: unshakeable. That is, the extraordinary Christian is unshakeable. They can face difficult times, hard times, things that shake other people and rattle their faith, why? Because unshakeable, listen, the extraordinary Christian is anchored in the truth of God's Word. Write it down, anchored in the truth, number one. God's Word, anchored in the truth. Number two, resting in the promises of God's Word. Anchored in the truth of God's Word, resting, listen, resting in the promises of God's Word. Focused on the principles of God's Word. What is this teaching? What is God saying to me? Focus and focused on the principles. How does this apply to my life? And then, strengthened by the examples of God's Word.

Look at the life of Abraham, strengthened in my faith reading about him. Look at the life of Moses and Joseph and the Apostle Paul. Look at all these examples in scripture. What is it? We see how unshakeable they were, the things that they faced. God wants to make you an extraordinary Christian, unshakeable. No matter what happens, you're not doubting God, questioning God, blaming God, turning away from God, but you know that He's in absolute control and has your best interest at heart, unshakeable. Likewise, fruitful. The extraordinary Christian life is a fruitful life. Think about the people that you know, that they just live their lives. They work till Friday, get paid, they spend the weekend doing something, having enough fun, sort of relaxing, whatever it might be, nothing wrong with that.

Then they go to work the next Monday and do the same thing, and if you look at the fruit of their life, their life is so self-centered and, listen, caught up wrapped up in what pleases them, what satisfies them, what indulges them, what they can do, what they can have, where they can go. There's nothing fruitful about the lives of many people who name the name of Jesus. Listen, you want to bring glory to God? Our life is to be fruitful. How is our life to be fruitful? Giving it away, giving it away to others, sharing your faith with people that the Spirit of God says to you, "I want you to speak to that person. I want you to share what I'm doing in your life". And what happens? When you and I give ourselves away, we become fruitful. Hold it to yourself and what happens? Your life becomes fruitless. If my life is going to be fruitful, I won't keep it hidden, I won't keep it to myself, I'll give it away.

Which brings me to number thirteen, and that is a rich life. Somebody says, "Oh, I've been waiting for that one," a rich life. Rich in what? Listen to this, rich in the Word of God; rich in those principles of the Word of God that you understand; listen, rich in the promises of God; rich in this intimate relationship you have with Him, listen, intimate with Him, yes; rich in the wonderful opportunities that God has given you; rich in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit; rich in the fact that you can praise Him; rich in, listen, rich in the inheritance that God has for you. Three times in the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul refers to our inheritance. Do you realize how rich you are? And remember this: you and I are rich in the things, listen, that money can't buy and death can't take it away. Man, I mean, that means it's ours. It's awesome. The person who lives an extraordinary life is rich. And you see, that person understands what real, true, genuine riches are. Riches that money cannot buy, death cannot take away, and are continually being multiplied as you and I walk in obedience to Him.

The extraordinary life is a life of love. Watch this, the love of God, the love He has for us; the love for God, the love we have for Him; the love of ourselves, somebody says, "Mm, mm, mm, mm, that's pride". No it's not. He says that we're to treat others like we want to be treated. And He says we're to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. There is a healthy, godly way to love yourself. You take care of your body. You watch what goes in your mind. You think about eternal things and not just physical things or material things or just of today.

Then one last thing is this, number fifteen: it is a rewarding life, a rewarding life. Now, what do I mean by that? Simply this: the person who lives the extraordinary life has a peace within them that passes all understanding. It's there. Secondly, there's a sense of fulfillment in the godly life, the extraordinary life, a sense of fulfillment. You know how powerful that fulfillment is? Watch this, this is how powerful it is. This relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is so powerful, here's what it does. It just sort of just draws us away from things that God does not want in our life because we're so fulfilled in things that are good and right, that what happens is it doesn't leave any room for things that are not godly and things that are not right and things that, listen, things that do not fit who we are.

There's a sense of fulfillment. There, listen, there's a sense of completion, there's a completeness about the extraordinary life. I can have it or I can not have it. I can do with it or I can do without it. And then there's a sense of wholeness. That is, I'm a whole person. When there's emotional wholeness in your life, it means that you feel complete, you feel satisfied, there is peace. Now, does that mean that everything in the world satisfies you? No, but it means this: you have such a satisfaction in your relationship to Christ. Does that mean you can't grow anymore? No, it doesn't mean that. Sinless? No. But it means there's this surpassing peace and satisfaction and completion and wholeness in your life, that you're not drawn over here, that you've got to have this and got to have this and be accepted by this and that. If God provides, fine; if He doesn't, that's fine.

The extraordinary Christian life is a life that encompasses all the things that we've talked about. Well, if you've never received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you have to start there. All of this rest that we've talked about is what the Spirit of God will do in your life, once you enter the door of salvation, which means that you confess your sinfulness to Him. You ask Him to forgive you of your sins based on His death at Calvary. You surrender your life to Him as your personal Savior, the Holy Spirit seals you as a child of God and begins at that moment this work of transformation and Christlikeness in your life.

Now, the reason you see so many people who are not becoming extraordinary Christians is because somewhere along the way, they forget the path, they forget the goal and the purpose of God to bring Himself glory and honor through our life, and they just sort of stray off over here and become satisfied, being less than the person God wants them to be. Please don't do that. Set your focus on God, let nothing deter you.
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