I am continuing my series on Believers here in part 2. If you have not read part 1 then I encourage you to go read that post first so that you can get a good idea as to where we are going in this series.
My hope behind this topic is that it will give many of us a biblical understanding of some of the most basic language we use to describe our walk as Christians. Calling ourselves ‘Believers’ is just one of many words that could use some examining in the Scriptures. We need a grammar lesson and it is my goal to rethink many of these words that have seemingly been diminished to nothing more than buzzwords.
So let us begin.
The word we will be focusing on today is actually the title of these posts – Believers. In the New Testament the title of ‘believer’ is used sixty-two times. The Greek word used is pistos (4103. πιστος). Forty-three of these times the meaning of it is best defined as ‘faithful’. This is interesting because it shows that being a believer is synonymous with faithfulness. So to be a believer means that you are faithful and to be faithful you must be full of faith: i.e. faith-full. (We will have grammar lesson on the word ‘faith’ in a future post) It varies the other nineteen times believer is used and these examples are quite sporadic and are not pertinent to our discussion.
When you look further into these places where believer is documented you will see one time where Paul uses the title while placing it side by side with the opposite, the unbeliever. Looking at the word here is important because it is the only place where we can see Paul pit the two against each other. This is done to clarify the stark contrast between the two groups and it would do us well to take heed of what he is saying because the points given are significant. He says,
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God…” (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)
Paul is drawing the reader into a vital principle that concerns the motivation for holiness. In doing so he makes a clear distinction between being a believer and an unbeliever and that the two are actually meant to have nothing in common. This is because salvation means change. When you receive the free gift of salvation you are a new creation. Through this you become a new person, a new human. “Put on the new man,” Paul wrote. You have been redeemed, spiritually regenerated and fully justified before your Father in Heaven. For the old man has died due to your crucifixion with Christ (Gal. 2:20). The life of darkness that you lived before Christ is the old man who has now died and been buried six feet under. You have been purchased by the the blood of the Lamb and the costliness of this expense goes far deeper into God’s pockets than we will ever know.
Now to my point. It is a false doctrine to assume that since he paid such a great debt on behalf of humanity that we in-turn have to pay very little or nothing in return. Being a believer is eventually meant to cost you everything. Salvation is free but being a believer is costly. This is because to believe does not mean that you have an understanding of, or even conceding to, the existence of God. Belief is the out working of obedient faith. This is the essence of a believer. It is the place of seeking wholehearted obedience and maturing in this process until the Lord splits the sky or you return to the dust.
As Paul is stating in 2 Corinthians, the place of a believer is foreign to an unbeliever. It is a renewing of the mind, will and desires within the human. As this happens, the foreignness of what we have stepped into sets in and we begin realize we were created for something so much better than the lesser pleasures this earth has to offer. Paul says that God will “dwell” and “walk” with us. Thus we should “separate”ourselves from all that is contrary to our new identity. Believers are to be those who live a life that portray the truth of who they are as heirs of the King of kings. As such, they live differently than unbelievers because they are reaching to perfect holiness as wanderers in this foreign land. Do we have to do this? No. But if we do not, then where is the contrast between you and the unbeliever? Believers live different, act different, and walk different. To be a Believer is to live a very proactive and focused lifestyle that pursues promises that are offered only to those who cleanse themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God…