A very hard question to answer within Christianity is this, how do you be a Christian? Or, put another way, how do you live as a Christian?
In this article and video, we’re going to share a tool called the gospel waltz that will hopefully help answer these questions and more. We learned this tool from Bob Flayhart at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church (in fact, Bob recently published a book called The Gospel Waltz).
We have tweaked a few words, but it’s still the same. This tool can also answer the question, how do you walk in the power of the spirit or how do you live a life of humility?
In the same way that the waltz is a three-step dance, we believe the Bible calls disciples of Jesus to daily live out three steps. You can learn more by watching the video or reading below:
Gospel Waltz Step 1: Repent
For this article, we have to start somewhere, so let’s begin with the step of repentance. It is clear in scripture that we’re called to live a life of repentance as believers.
When Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses, the very first one said “the Christian life is a life of repentance.”
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much.”
To be able to gospel waltz biblically, we must understand the true meaning of repentance. First, it is not just saying I’m sorry, but repentance is confessing our sin, especially the root of our sins like pride, self-righteousness and selfishness. And then, it’s turning to Jesus and resting in his forgiveness and his finished work on our behalf.
Many people, when they need to repent, will instead run to despair. True repentance is not running to despair. Despair means you acknowledge your sin, confess, but then turn back to yourself and to your sin and sit in despair.
Repentance means to turn, and when you truly repent, you confess your sin and you turn to Jesus. This is why in true repentance, there always is joy, not despair. When we turn to Jesus, we find forgiveness, love, mercy, grace, redemption, and his righteousness. We can rest in his finished work and experience his joy.
Gospel Waltz Step 2: Believe
Another step of the gospel waltz is believe. You could replace the word “believe” with “trust” or “faith”, but God’s Word commands us to fix our eyes on Jesus and put our hope and faith into his promises and his finished work. Hebrews 12:2 says this, “looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In addition, Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.” We are to look to Christ for everything we are, to believe in Christ for our justification and also for our sanctification.
Colossians 2:6 says this, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” We are to look to his power through the power of the Spirit to help us moment by moment in our daily lives.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus and rest in what Christ has done, that is the motivation of the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to daily preach the gospel to ourselves and when you gaze at the beauty of Jesus and his substitutionary atonement, do you know what happens? What do you long to do?
When you truly see what Christ has done for you? You long to obey. Obey him and His word.
Gospel Waltz Step 3: Obey
So the third step in living as a christian is this: obey.
God has given us many commands in scripture that are for our good and for His glory. When you rest and believe in Christ, you will say, “God, I want to serve you. I want to love you. I want to encourage you and others. I want to make disciples and proclaim the gospel. I want to worship you. I want to obey all your commands.”
Believing will lead to obeying. When you look at Jesus, your motivation to obey does not come from guilt or performance or duty. Your motivation comes from a compelling love of what Christ has done for you. Repent, believe, obey.
How the Gospel Waltz affects our Relationships
A question you might be thinking: do I waltz to God or to others or both? Yes, sometimes only to God, but other times to both him and to people that you’ve sinned against. For example, I can go to God and repent, believe and obey, and then also go to my wife and do the same.
I can say, “honey, I want to repent in front of you. I want to repent of my anger, my self-righteousness. I’ve already repented to God, but I want to repent to you. I confess my anger and self-righteousness and ask for your forgiveness,” and hopefully she’ll forgive me.
Once I have repented, I turn to Jesus and I rest in his forgiveness, his righteousness, and what he’s done for me on the cross. I’ve been covered and bought with the blood of Jesus. “Honey, I want to tell you that I desire to love you and serve you and bring you before Christ as he tells me washed in the word, and I want to love you as Christ loves the church. I’m asking Christ to help me obey and do this because I long to and I love you.”
And then, in one minute or one hour or one day later, my sinful heart gets selfish and prideful again and I sin against God or I sin against my wife. Therefore, I waltz again.
When I feel my heart just beginning to sin or I recognize my sin days later, I might waltz silently or I might do it verbally with people. For example, if I’m sitting in a meeting and my heart becomes self-righteous and judgmental against a person, then at that very moment silently, I’ll waltz for 20 seconds.
“Lord, I confess my self-righteousness and judging heart. Please forgive me and help me to know that I’m forgiven in Jesus because what you’ve done on the cross for me, help me to love and listen well, engage others and try to understand where they’re coming from like you modeled for us, Jesus.”
If I act out in sin in front of them, I’ll waltz like I did above with my wife. I waltz to them personally and ask for their forgiveness.
How to live as a Christian – the gospel waltz
I desire to walk in the power of the Spirit, therefore I need to get me out of the way and ask the Holy Spirit to live through me.
How do I get me out of the way? I repent and ask the Spirit to remind me of Jesus’ forgiveness and finished work and rest in him, and that motivates me to obey his word.
Our prayer is that you gospel waltz every day for the rest of your life. Visit our discipleship resources for more info on living as a Christian and training disciples.