This is a question that is troubling not only for us in this century, but also troubled Paul in the first century.
Firstly, lets say this much; the moment we believe in the blood of Christ shed for us on the cross – we have eternal life. John 6:47 says “he who believes has everlasting life”. That means that irrespective of our behaviour, the blood of Christ is effective in saving us, because it is His behaviour not ours, that brings us right standing with God.
In Galations 5, Paul talks about 2 themes, Freedom in Christ & Life by the Spirit. These 2 themes are companions, they are always supposed to travel together. It is only as we see our awesome release from all bondage obtained for us on the cross, that we are energized to live magnificent lives by the Spirit. To attempt to live in such a way without a revelation of Christ is religion at it’s worst – simply dead works.
By talking about the fruit of the Spirit, v22-23, Paul is describing what a life led by the Spirit looks like. He is not saying -‘you need to bear this fruit to qualify as a Christian’ but rather ‘because Christ has already qualified you as a Christian by the blood He shed for you – this is what your life will look like”.
Unfortunately, the Christian church in the western world is so well established now that the very fundamentals of our faith are often lost in programs, culture and traditions. Many Christians rarely talk about the very one who’s name they have adopted as Lord and Saviour. It is as though they know about Him, but they don’t know Him.
In my view it is impossible to live a life that is blatantly un-Christian once we have grasped the magnitude of what Christ accomplished on the cross. It would be like watching a loved one die and then going about your life as if nothing had happened – quite unthinkable.
So my conclusion is this; we must stop playing church! We must stop presenting a gospel that treats the precious shed blood of Christ as if it was only a tragic event that happened 2000 years ago. It is personal, it is to be treasured by each individual, it cannot be treated lightly, if we truly grasp it’s magnitude it will change us forever… then we will truly live like a believer.
I’ve been a Christian a long time, but it wasn’t until I stared in awe at the staggering work of the cross that I was really motivated to live for Him. But now it’s such a joy, not a chore, just to live for Him.