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On semi-regular occasions I have spirited discussions with certain people about sin, Biblical rules and regulations, living out the Christian life, and so on. In our modern, post-reformation times in which we now live, there is always a debate in evangelical circles regarding the role of works in the Christian life.
If we're truly saved by faith and not works as Ephesians 2:8-9 would suggest, then it would stand to reason that we can "sin all we want with Jesus' permission," right? If we take the faith versus works argument to its ultimate extreme, then we can live a life of sin in the flesh because "once saved, always saved."
So-called believers in Christ that struggle with certain sins in their lives often hold on to these specific arguments regarding faith in Christ and works. Believe me, I'm not here to judge people because I have my own war with the flesh and Spirit that wages in my own body on a daily basis. In fact, the internal battle that wages in our hearts and minds could be considered further evidence that conversion has taken place in someone's life.
But, I would also contend, though, that if the fleshly, sin nature is winning out on the majority of your battles, then there is something seriously wrong in your walk with Christ. You need to go back and evaluate if you truly even have the Holy Spirit living inside you. If there is no guilt, no shame in living a lifestyle that looks like the world, then I would question whether or not the Spirit even resides within you.
Live No Longer...
In Ephesians 4:17-32. the Apostle Paul addresses this very idea of what it looks like when believers live out the new life. He gives us a roadmap, if you will, of what a life of faith in Christ should look like in the life of a believer. Over the course of my next two blog posts, we will explore this roadmap for living the new life.
In vss. 17-19, Paul begins our roadmap with not living as the world lives:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.In this passage, Paul begins by insisting that we as Christians no longer live:
- As the Gentiles do. These are those who are of the world that have no knowledge of God. The Christian life should be lived out in such a way that is markedly different from the world's system of living.
- In the futility of the world's thinking. The way that world thinks is useless and ineffective for victorious living. It is impossible for believers to live out an effective walk with Christ if their thought patterns are the same as the world's.
- In ignorance. Unbelievers do not understand God and His ways. Because they do not know God or have totally turned their backs on God, they have hard hearts and have no sensitivity when it comes to living in sin.
- In living out a life of indulgent sin. Unbelievers have completely given themselves over to indulgent, sensual sin. They have jumped in the deep end and are loving it!
- Full of greed. Hmmm, something about money and possessions has to enter into the discussion of living like the world. I find this fascinating. There really should be a marked difference in our attitude and actions with money between those of an unbeliever and a believer.
Wow! This is powerful stuff on the beginning stages of our roadmap on what the new life looks like. How's your life lining up with these five areas in which we should no longer live? Do you need to confess some sin in your life? Do you need to take on a different attitude when it comes to living out your faith? Are you questioning whether or not conversion has even taken place in your life?
In my next post, Part 2, we'll be adding additional information to our roadmap. The Christian life is not all about what we are giving up, but also about what we are putting on. There are positive characteristics that we should be living out in our walk with Christ.
Also, check out these related posts: