Tuesday, March 11, 2008

God's Holy People: Part 2

In part 1 of this series I pointed out how the follower of Christ is expected to be counter cultural. A Christian has to live differently from the world. It was this stark contrast that set the early Christians apart from the rest of the Roman Empire. Because they lived differently they were beacons of light in a dark world. Remember Jesus wants us to be lights of the world (Matthew 5:14-16).

How we live is a reflection of what we believe. If we want to be lights in this world that shine with God’s love and truth then we have to live in a certain way. This is what the apostle Paul was getting at when he wrote: But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people (Ephesians 5:3; NIV). There is a proper and an improper way for Christ-Followers to live. The Apostle reminds the Ephesians, and us, that we are no longer sinners, no longer pagans, but we are God’s Holy People! We have been set apart and chosen as God’s special instrument to bring His love and grace to the world.

When we understand who we are it effects the way we live. I think one of the struggles we face as we follow Jesus is an uncertainty about our identity. We are keenly aware of the sins that have been in our lives and the struggles we still have with sin. The enemy tells us that we are sinners and that we don’t have what it takes to follow Jesus. What Jesus wants us to remember, and what Paul is reminding us of here in Ephesians, is that your sin is not who you are. You are more than your sin, Jesus died to free you from it, and if we move forward understanding that we are children of God, His Holy People, our sin becomes less and less a part of our identity.

Here is the truth I think the Apostle Paul wants us to get from chapter 5 of his letter to the Ephesians: God’s holy people live differently from the world!

How do we do that? How do we live a life that is so out of step with the world? I believe the Apostle Paul has given us the answers to these questions in this passage from Ephesians.
1 Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children 2 and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. 4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting - all of which are out of character - but rather thanksgiving. 5 For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God's wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them, 8 for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light - 9 for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth - 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention. 13 But all things being exposed by the light are made evident. 14 For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says: "Awake, O sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!" 15 Therefore be very careful how you live - not as unwise but as wise, 16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord's will is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:1-21; NET)

In part 3 I will look at the first of three ways we are to walk in order to live differently from the world.

  • Point to Ponder: God’s holy people are to live differently from the world.
  • Passage to Remember: Ephesians 5:3
  • Question to Consider: How are you living differently from the world?
God's Holy People: Part 1
God's Holy People: Part 3
God's Holy People: Part 4
God's Holy People: Part 5
God's Holy People: Part 6

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