Salvation is a journey and not an event and this means that each and every day we are being made into the image of Christ. In this journey, there is the tendency to think that if only we do the right things we will be the right kind of Christian, as though our doing would bring about our being.
In today’s post, I will be sharing on the relationship between our doing and our being. As you read through, you are going to come across the words being and doing a lot and it would only be right to briefly define what I am referring to when using them in this context.
By doing I am referring to our deeds and the things we think we are supposed to do as believers. By being I am referring to our relationship with God. Being and doing are integrally related, but we have to have that order right. Our doing flows out of our being.
We are first called to “be” before “doing”. What this simply means is that first of all we are called to have a relationship with God before we “do” anything. When we look at Scripture, we see that our relationship with God is the foundation upon which our doing should build on.
For us to have a personal relationship with God, we must be born again (John 3:7) and this happens when we confess our sins and believe. In Ephesians 2:8, we see that salvation is by grace through faith. Nobody is qualified to be born again because we have all fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). When we get born again, God’s Spirit is born in us and starts dwelling in us causing us to cherish God more than sin and worldly pleasures.
As I mentioned at the beginning, being born again is a process, a journey, and not an event. Each and every day we are being saved from our old sinful nature and that is why none of us becomes instantly perfect when we get born again. We are still being conformed into the image of Christ, being refined and purified but we need to yield to God to continually make us perfect.
What happens in the new birth is not getting new religion but new life. It is not the improvement of your old human nature but the creation of a new nature. It is not something we do for or to ourselves but something that is done to us by God. Therefore, our being is by having a relationship with God, then doing (deeds) takes precedence.
When it comes to “doing”, this refers to our deeds or the action part of our faith (James 2:17). Doing here means what we do as believers that is pleasing to God. This could be: giving, reaching out to others, serving God and even Christian disciplines like fasting, devotions and prayer among others.
We should first of all have a relationship with God before we “do” anything. When this happens, it is no longer we who act to bring about the desired results in our lives, but God who acts upon us to bring about His purposes in our lives. Obeying God now becomes something that happens naturally and no longer feels like a burden.
Our doing should flow out of our being. This is the order that God has laid down in His Word for us to follow. We are now going to look at a familiar scripture passage that is said to contain the most frightening statement for a Christian. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says:
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
In this statement, Jesus deals with the order of being and doing in a rather frightening statement (Matthew 7:21). We see that that all those things are the works of God- prophesying, casting out demons, performing miracles… all in Jesus’ name. However, Jesus answers and says, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers (Matthew 7:23).” If that is not frightening, tell me what is.
What we can learn from this scripture passage is that these people had the works, the “doing” but they did not have a relationship with Jesus, the “being”, as the foundation on which the works would flow. From this we see that the right order is first of all being then doing.
The doing is an outflow, the result, of a person who exists in relationship with Jesus as Lord. As I said earlier, salvation is not something we do to ourselves, or for ourselves, but something we allow God to do in us as we yield ourselves to the work of His transforming grace.
How can we apply this to our lives? We should first of all examine ourselves and see if we are right with God. Whether we have a personal relationship with God. “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).” God can not dwell where there is sin and that is what separates us from Him. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
As we have read in Matthew 7:21-23, we should constantly search our hearts and make sure we are walking in God’s will. For us to walk in God’s will, we first of all need to know what God’s will is then trust God to help us walk in it.
For us to know God’s will we need to read His word and pray. We cannot claim to love God more than we love His word. God means as much to you as His word means to you- just that and no more. Therefore, for us to continue being in God, we need to study His Word and do what it says.
“Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at himself in the mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will blessed in what he does.”