Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roadmap For Living The New Life (Part 2)

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Let's Review

In my last post, Roadmap For Living The New Life (Part 1), I opened up that post with the debate regarding the role of works in the Christian life. I asked the question if it is even possible for a believer to live out a daily lifestyle that runs completely counter to God's Word. My contention is that you cannot call yourself a believer in Christ and live in willful disobedience to the Word.

In a lengthy passage of Scripture found in Ephesians 4:17-32,  the Apostle Paul gives us a roadmap, if you will, of what a life of faith in Christ should look like. In the first three verses of this passage, we looked at Paul's insistence that we as Christians no longer live: as the Gentiles do, in the futility of the world's thinking, in ignorance, in living out a life of indulgent sin, and finally, a life full of greed.

In this post, Part 2, we will finish out this Scripture passage by taking a look at what Paul tells us that we should put off from our old life and put on in our walk with the Lord. In Ephesians 4:20-32, we read:
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Put Off The Negatives

Unfortunately, I think this is where Christianity gets a bad wrap, so to speak, but there are a lot of characteristics from our former life as unbelievers that we need to jettison. These are characteristics that demonstrate a lifestyle of living in the flesh and not a life of Holy Spirit living.
  1. The Old Self. Our old sin nature has been corrupted by deceitful desires. Through original sin by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we have inherited the sin nature. On this side of Heaven, we will never be rid of this sin nature, but we can minimize its control of our day-to-day living.
  2. Lying. We are to put off any kind of conscious and intentional falsehood.
  3. Sinning Through Anger. We cannot lose control of ourselves when we are angry. We get into trouble when we  lose control and sin as a result.
  4. Stealing. This is simply a lack of integrity by taking things that aren't ours to begin with.
  5. Unwholesome Talk. Of all things listed in this passage, I think this is where a lot of Christians get themselves in trouble. We gossip about others. We put others down behind their backs. We use language that isn't pleasing to the Lord.
  6. Bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. I see this as kind of the "catch all" phrase at the end of the list. These characteristics deal with our relationships with people and are representative of living a life in the flesh.
Put On The Positives

For all the negative stuff in the above list that we are to "put off," there is a corresponding positive characteristic that we are to "put on" as a believer in Christ.
  1. The New Self. At the point of our conversion, God gave us the Holy Spirit who dwells in the life of every believer. When we put on the New Self, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to take complete control of our lives.
  2. Truth. A key characteristic of God and His Word is truth. If we can't believe what He has communicated to us through His Word, then we don't have a very strong foundation on which to stand. Our lives should be the same, based on His truth.
  3. Righteous Anger. The Bible never states that anger itself is a sin. In fact, even Jesus got angry on a few occassions as seen in the Gospels. The key is to remain in control of yourself when you do get angry.
  4. Hard Work. Christians should be the hardest working people on the planet. We bring honor and glory to the Lord when we do our very best for Him in everything we do.
  5. Positive Speech. We should constantly be monitoring the words that are coming out of our mouths, making sure that they are words that build up and not tear down.
  6. Kindness, Compassion, And Forgiveness. As we deal with people in our various relationships, we should be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.
Are You Taking Off And Putting On?

So, Christian, how are you doing with these two lists? Are you constantly living in a state of putting off the characteristics of our old sin nature and putting on those of the new self? In what areas do you need to spend time focused on changing some characteristics to look like the new nature that still look like the old nature?

Allow the Holy Spirit to take complete control of your heart, mind, and body. It's only through His power that you will be able to put off the characteristics of the old self and put on the characteristics of the new self.

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