Is God Pleased With You?: How to Live the Christian Life

By | April 9, 2012

Frank Viola recently shared an audio recording of him teaching on Romans 7 and 8. I thought it was so good that I listened to it twice, which is saying something coming from me. I liked it so much that I wrote down some of what he said and want to share it here:

You have been told for so long by preachers, and christian radio, and christian TV and books, that “God loves you… but… but… God loves you but…” And many of you here, your relationship with the Lord, if you peel away the layers of the onion, is based on “Am I doing enough to make him happy? Is He really pleased with me?”. And I’ll tell you what, virtually every sermon you hear reinforces that. I would say that 95% of the ministry we hear in sermons, books, conferences, what have you, if you take the sermon that you hear… and you peel it away, here’s basically what it is: God is holy, you aren’t, try harder. (just before 14:00)

I have pastors—pastors now—have told me, “You know Frank, I really don’t know if God is happy with me and if He loves me. I preach it to my people… but I don’t believe it.” (around 16:00)

…We’re taught that we can live the Christian life. Constantly. In every sermon you hear the supposition is that you—you—can—if you try hard enough—obey God’s law. You yourself if you try, you can do good. And Paul is saying… no you can’t. (around 28:45 on Romans 7)

The secret is: OK, how do I get this life?… I have an indwelling Lord, and I can live by that Lord. I can live by Christ. That’s possible brothers and sisters. Do you know what the church is? I’m going to give you the best definition of church you’ll ever hear in your life. And this is experiential not theoretical. The church of Jesus Christ, the organic expression of the church if you want to call it that—the new testament church—is a group of people who have divine life living in them and they are learning how to live by a life not their own. They’re learning how to live by a life not their own. They’re learning how to live by Christ together. They’re learning how to live by an indwelling Lord. (around 47:30)

You can know the flesh by two things: death and war… But you know the Spirit by two thing: life and peace. (around 59:45)

Brothers and sisters, let me give you a key to living the Christian life. You can’t live the Christian life. There is only one who does that and He lives in you. Let me give you a key here: believing who you are… believing—believing who you are. If you believe that the Spirit is in you and you believe that you are in the Spirit and you believe that you are in Christ and that there is no condemnation in Christ, if you believe that, accept that, it will change your life. (around 1:01:30)

But if you continue to hear “God is not happy; do more; you can do more; you can live the Christian life; try harder; you’re not doing enough; God’s not happy with you”. And all this stuff sometimes is very subtle, it’s not in your face but you listen to it and you peel it back “OK, the Lord’s not happy with me”. You believe that and if you believe that you’re in the flesh, you’ll act like it. (around 1:02:00)

Romans was written to a community of believers that had a shared life together. And they—plural—they together learned how to mind the things of the Spirit. They together reminded one another of who they were in Christ. They together reminded one another that they had an indwelling Lord living in them and they were learning together how to live by that indwelling Lord. Now saints, this gospel—Paul’s gospel, my gospel, Milt’s gospel doesn’t work for an individual. It does not work. (just before 1:05:00)

You will never know Jesus Christ deeply, you will never learn how to live by his indwelling life fully, you will never learn what it means to set your mind on the Spirit in the way that we’re meant to be and the way we’re made to be, outside the experience of eklesia—a shared life community where brothers and sisters in Christ are living their life as a community. They’re in one another’s life and they have one goal and one purpose and that is Christ—to know Him, to live by Him, to follow Him, to love Him, to express Him. It doesn’t work outside that context, no more than a polar bear is going to be able to live if you take him out of the arctic… Your habitat is in a living experience of the body of Christ. We call it organic church life. (around 1:06:00)

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