Wednesday, August 18, 2010

God's Help and God's Expectation

{Ephesians 4:20-24; ESV}
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

When it comes to following Jesus we need to remember two important truths.  The first truth is that we are unable to be faithful on our own.  Salvation begins and ends with God.  He is the one who took the initiative to save us and we can be confident that He will finish what He started.  Part of the way He is bringing transformation and life into our lives right now is through the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is God guiding our lives towards faith and maturity.  We must always remember that God does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.

The second truth we need to remember is that God has certain expectations for our lives.  We are intended to reflect God’s love into this world, and therefore God provides us with commands and wisdom in His Word so that we can know the right way to live.  In the passage from Ephesians quoted above we see that we are to take off the old way of living, the way the world lives, and adopt a new way of living, the way of Jesus.  What we need to notice here is that Paul says this taking off and putting on is something that we must do.  God will help us in this process, that is why the gift of the Holy Spirit is such a wonderful blessing, but we have to make the choice to renounce the way of the world and submit to the way of Christ.  God will not do for us what He expects us to do for ourselves.

Take a moment and consider what author Dallas Willard wrote:
“The vitality and power of Christianity is lost when we fail to integrate our bodies into its practice by intelligent, conscious, choice and steadfast intent.  It is with our bodies we receive the new life that comes as we enter his Kingdom...If we are to participate in the reign of God, it can only be by our actions.  And our actions are physical—we live only in the process of our bodies.  To withhold our bodies from religion is to exclude religion from our lives.  Our life is a bodily life, even though that life is one that can be fulfilled solely in union with God” (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 31).

I know this seems rather obvious, but I think the story of our lives show that we don’t do it.  We say we believe in Christ, but we haven’t allowed that reality to influence our behavior.  God expects us to align our lives with what we say we believe.  In other words our belief needs to influence our lives.  After wall that is what faith is all about.

You and I need to trust in God for our salvation.  The reason why we can find security in our salvation is because it depends on what God has done in Jesus Christ and not in what we have done, which would put our salvation on very shaky grounds.  Yet, that trust we have in God for salvation needs to begin to be seen in the way we live our lives, and that involves the choices that we make. These choices manifest themselves into action and through our actions we bring God’s love and His rule into this world.  We need both trust and choice in our lives to experience God transforming power in our lives.

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