Before any of us came to faith in Jesus Christ, we were all dead in our sins, without God, and without hope of eternal life with God. We were under the control of sin and of Satan, doing what was opposed to God and to his Word.
But, then we heard the message of salvation from sin provided for us by God’s grace to us. If we heard the truth, which is in Christ Jesus, we were taught to forsake our former lives of living for sin and self, to be changed in the attitude of our minds, and to put on our new self, in Christ, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 4:17-24).
But, this is not something we can do in our flesh. This is the working of God’s grace in our lives in transforming us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18). But, we have to cooperate with that work. And, we have to do what our Lord says.
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Colossians 1:21-23 ESV
God took the initiative to reconcile us to himself, to change our relationship with him from what it was (opposed to God) to a completely new relationship (united with Christ). God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to die on a cross for our sins. In his death he became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. He paid the penalty for our sin so that we could die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24).
But, what he provided wasn’t just freedom from the punishment of sin (forgiveness) and the hope of heaven when we die. What his free gift of grace gave us was freedom from our slavery (bondage) to sin, and empowerment to live righteously – to live godly lives, pleasing to God. For, this reconciliation to God is not just a change of station with God, but it is also a change of attitude towards God, and it is a change of behavior, too.
So, if we truly have been reconciled to God, by his blood, then our hostility towards God in which we were engaged in doing (practicing) evil deeds should be a thing of the past. It doesn’t mean we instantly become perfect, for the Christian walk and our growth in Christ is a lifelong process. But, the way we lived before we believed in Jesus should not be the way we still live after we believe in him. There should be a definite change of mind and heart and behavior away from our lifestyles of sin to now walking by faith in obedience to our Lord and to his Word and to his Ways (Rom. 6:1-23).
And, this is also not a “quick fix” and then it is over, we live our lives how we want, and one day we get to go to heaven. We must continue in this walk of faith. We must continue in dying to sin and self, and we must continue to say “NO!” to sin and “YES!” to Jesus and to his will for our lives. We must continue to forsake sin and to put on Christ and his righteousness, and to walk in his holiness in his power and in his strength at work within us.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” Colossians 1:24-26 ESV
We who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives are all commissioned of Christ to share the truth of the gospel of our salvation with others so that they, too, can be delivered out of their slavery to sin and so that they, too, can walk in holiness in the power of God living within them.
And, when we do take this seriously, and we do follow our Lord in obedience in sharing with others how they can be delivered out of their addiction to sin, and how they can be free in Christ from the control of sin, and how they can now live in peace with God in walks of purity, we are going to be opposed. And, much of our opposition is going to come from the worldly church.
For, what is largely being taught today, with regard to salvation from sin, is a watered-down version of what the scriptures teach. Some call it cheap grace. Others call it easy believism. It is the broad road that many travel which leads to destruction, for it avoids and rejects the narrow road that few take which leads to eternal life.
It tells its adherents that all they have to do is confess Christ Jesus as Lord or to accept his grace and forgiveness and that they are saved, done deal, and that heaven is now guaranteed them at the end of their lives no matter how they live their lives from this moment forward.
But, that is not what scripture teaches. It teaches that we must die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we must walk (in lifestyle, in practice) according to the Spirit of God and not according to our flesh, if we want eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 1:27-29 ESV
So, if we are good stewards of the grace of God, and if we follow our Lord in obedience in making the Word of God fully known, i.e. in sharing the whole counsel of God, then not only are we going to be sharing the full gospel message with others, but we are going to be warning, too, against false gospels, against lies, and against deceptions, so that no one is led astray.
And, the reason for this is that we want as many as possible to be truly saved from their sins and to have the hope of eternal life with God. And, we want to see them grow to maturity in Christ, too. We want to see them walking in freedom from slavery to sin, and we want to see them walking in purity of devotion to Jesus Christ, in his holiness, pleasing unto God.
And so, in the power of Christ within us, and under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, we will speak the truth in love so that all will know the truth, and so they will reject the lies, and so that they will walk in freedom from slavery to sin in the power of God, and so they will live holy lives, pleasing to God.
But, we will not just speak the truth, but we will live the truth by example, too. It doesn’t mean we will be absolutely perfect, but that we should not be living in willful sin against God. It should not be our practice. We should be examples of those who are truly set free from slavery to sin and who are walking by the Spirit and no longer according to our flesh. This way our walks will match our talks.
An Original Work / September 21, 2011
Lord, I love to have You near me
As I go throughout my day,
Walking daily in Your footsteps,
As I humbly pray.
List’ning to You, hear You teaching
Me to live and work for You,
Lord, I pray You lead and guide me
Daily in Your truth.
Lord, I want to be Your witness,
Telling others of Your grace;
Telling how they can be set free
Of their sins today;
Share with them the love of Jesus,
He died on a cruel tree,
So that we’d be forgiven
For all eternity.
Lord, I want to serve You only,
As I bow on bended knee,
Making You my Lord and master,
And Your servant be.
Humbly walking in obedience,
Doing what You say to me,
Lord, may I be an example
Of one who’s set free.