What Is a Christian?

Romans 8:1
All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God (v.14).

Under “religious views” on her Facebook profile, my
wife lists the simple phrase “Jesus-follower.” She
uses that explanatory term to avoid political and
cultural connotations associated with the word Christian.
In some cultures, people are “born Christian.” But that
is a misunderstanding of what it means to follow Jesus.
Ironically, a friend of mine in the United Kingdom asked
me not to use “Jesus-follower” to describe Christians. It
seems that in his culture, the problem is reversed.

My friend told me, “The tag ‘Follower of Jesus’ has
been used to muddy the waters between those who have
a committed relationship to Christ and those in other faith
systems.” He noted that some regard Jesus as a great
man but still less than what He claimed to be. Something
less than the unique, virgin-born Messiah. Something less
than the sinless Lamb of God who was crucified for our
sins. Something less than the resurrected Jesus.
So what is a Christian? Paul gave us a solid definition
in Romans 8. A Christian is one who has been set
free from slavery to sin and its sentence of death.

“There is no condemnation for those who belong to
Christ Jesus,” Paul wrote. “The power of the life-giving
Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads
to death” (vv.1-2). Real Christianity should also have
accompanying evidence. “You are controlled by the
[Holy] Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you,”
he added. “And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ
living in them do not belong to Him at all” (v.9).

“All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,” Paul concluded
(v.14). “His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children”
(v.16). That’s not something political or cultural. It’s relational!

—Tim Gustafson


Christians have been set free from sin, but what does Romans 7:14
say about our ongoing struggle?

What does it mean to you to be a Christian? How would your
unsaved friends and acquaintances answer that question?