How are you going to live for God in 2012?
Instructions for Christian Living
17 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. 18 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. 19 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.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 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.
29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Paul in this passage is writing to people you, to people like the vast majority who read this blog, people who are genuine Christians. Just look at how they are described …. “you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” “dearly loved children” That’s you right? You are a believer? A Christian, someone who heard about Christ, responded positively to what you heard and became a child of God.
BUT there was a problem with how this group of God’s people were living as Christians. Here is the problem in a nutshell, these Ephesian Christians believed God existed but behaved like He didn’t in areas of their lives. They were part of God’s family but in certain areas of their lives there was no family resemblance between them and their heavenly father.
From what he says to these Ephesian Christians we can see that Paul identifies two basic ways of living as a Christian. He is saying that there are two options for how you live out your faith.
Its either …..
COMPROMISED CHRISTIANITY …. “live as the Gentiles do” “living like Godless people” CEV cf the examples v25-32, Paul is pointing out to these first generation Christians that there are areas of their lives where quite frankly there was no difference between their lives as Christ followers and the lives of those around them who didn’t know Christ. Talking about this way of living as Christian Paul makes an astonishing claim. He says when God’s people live this way, it breaks God’s heart, they “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” and brings themselves under the influence of their enemy, they “give the devil a foothold” What a thought, the way we live as His child has the capacity, to grieve God, to break His heart.
CONSECRATED CHRISTIANITY …. “ Paul outlines the alternative, the way of living out the Christian faith which God desires. He says that those who are Christ followers are to “to walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” What is being described in that short sentence is lives being lived in a way which they are fully consecrated to God. Paul is talking about Christians who are living as living sacrifices, wholly surrendered to God. This consecrated Christianity leads to a life of on going transformation. Paul says that those who live this way will be, by the power of God “be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”
CRITICAL DECISION …. Now it gets personal and critical. God’s Word here says we need to make up our mind about how we are going to live as Christians. Will we live with “compromised christianity?” or “consecrated Christianity?” The way its worded makes it clear that the former shouldn’t be an option, those who claim to follow Christ should make the critical decision to consecrate their lives without reserve to Christ.
Paul in this passage didn’t let the Christians of his generation to sit on the fence on this issue and God’s Word won’t allow us to sit there either. God in His Word calls on us to make a critical decision … “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,” “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” The call & challenge for us that God’s Word makes to us here is to end the compromise decisively and to consecrate ourselves, to offer ourselves entirely to God without reserve. We are called to make the decision to end the compromise in those areas of our lives where we have been living with them.
In essence what Paul is talking about here is a word and concept which has largely gone out of fashion among Christians but which has never gone out of fashion with God …. HOLINESS: We are reminded here that when it comes to holiness in our lives it doesn’t happen by accident. Holiness becomes a reality in our lives when we play our part and God does His …. As we consecrate ourselves to God completely, he renews and purifies us. This in turn leads to a new lifestyle. Here is a great description of how it works ….
” holiness is all about being connected to Christ in a daily obedient walk of submission. It is walking where He leads. It is relying on Christ, and Him alone, for cleansing. The life commences with a once-for-all yielding of ourselves to His will. And, it continues as we are connected to Jesus Christ and walk in daily submission to His leadings. Holiness is Christlikeness. Christlikeness is not reserved for a select few older saints or ministers. It is for every believer. Holiness is for ordinary people.” Keith Drury
Many of us today will return to work, back to our lives. I wonder what kind of lives you will return to. Will it be a life of compromised or consecrated Christianity? Are you willing at the start of 2012 to make that critical decision to end the compromise in those areas of your life where you have lived with it in 201?