Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Throw Off the Old

“The person who does not avoid small faults, little by little slips into greater ones.” ~ Thomas à Kempis; The Imitation of Christ (translated by William Creasy)

One of the great hindrances in our relationship with God is not changing our behavior. We hold on to “little” vices, believing they do not do great harm to our spiritual growth, yet we get frustrated because we are not experiencing the joy, peace, and hope that should characterize a relationship with God.

While our small vices may not seem to be a big deal the truth is that they often control our lives. The reason we do not get rid of them is because they are either addictions or allows us to feel part of this world. While God has called us to be foreigners and pilgrims in this world we want to fit in with the people around us. We hold on to whatever we can so we can still maintain an identity in the world.

These small faults or vices pose a bigger threat to our relationship with God than we realize. They keep us from experiencing God at work in our lives as we begin to trust Him, and they provide a doorway for bigger and more deadly sins to enter our lives. As long as we are willing to play in the mud of sin, no matter how shallow it might seem, we will always make ourselves targets for greater sin.

But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true. ~ Ephesians 4:20-24; NLT

The Apostle Paul wanted to make sure we understand that there must be a throwing off our old way of life. We can’t follow Jesus like we should if we continue to hang on to the vices of our old life. Not only do the keep us from experiencing God the way we should and lead us to greater sins, but ultimately the keep us from being a blessing to other people. Paul writes; “You must display a new nature…” That means being a Christian is about having a life that is dramatically different than what we find in the world around us. In this world of confusion about life Christians are to SHOW the world that there is a better way to live. We are blessings when we display our new nature that is found in Jesus Christ.

As long as we are hanging on to our old vices, no matter how small they might be, we will constantly be frustrated with our relationship with God, we will constantly be tripped up with larger and larger sins, and we will fail to be a blessing to the world around us.

God knows that we cannot change everything overnight. He knows of our weakness, and that is what grace is all about, we don’t have to fear God’s judgment every time we sin. What God is interested in is seeing us take steps to remove those things in our lives which hinder our relationship with Him.

When we begin to take these steps we discover a greater intimacy with God, a strength and hope to deal with greater temptations, and the ability to be a light in the dark world. Part of having faith in Jesus Christ is throwing off our old way of life and trusting Him to provide a better way to live. Are you willing to trust Jesus to do that?

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