“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians ch4 v1).
The message of the New Testament centres upon what Christ has achieved.
That is, he died on the Cross, was raised from the dead, and was established as Lord and future judge.
We are included in what Christ has done, because we belong to him, and we are therefore “washed, sanctified, and justified”.
In the absence of the old barrier of sin, we have entered into a new relationship with God.
In this new relationship, we have begun a new life, which ought to be a different kind of life.
But there is a paradox in the Christian life, best expressed in the words of John.
On the one hand, we are free from sin in the eyes of God; “If we walk in the light… the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John
ch1 v7)and “We know that any one born of God does not sin” (1 John ch5v18).
On the other hand, we are still engaged with sin in our daily lives; “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in
us” (1 John ch1v8)
So our task is to endeavour to bridge that gap, to bring our earthly lives up to speed with our status in the presence of God.
It is a matter of conducting our lives in accordance with God’s will; “We must make it our aim to please him; for we must all appear before the
judgement seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians ch5 vv9-10).
So Paul encourages his followers not to take it for granted that they have “attained” the resurrection from the dead; “I press on toward the
goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians ch3 v14)
The point of continuity with ”salvation by faith” is that God is doing most of the work.
“We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call…” (1 Thessalonians ch1 v11)
“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians ch1 v6).
So the task is really a joint enterprise; “Work out
your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you
, both to
will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians ch2v13).
As might have been expected, this work is to be done “in Christ”.
“If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians ch5v17). In other words, he
receives a fresh start.
It is in Christ, in the first place, that he has ”died to sin”.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians ch2 v20).
“Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh, with its passions and desires” (Galatians ch5 v24).
The death of the old life requires the beginning of a new life.
“For he who has died is freed from sin… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin… Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of
wickedness, but yield yourselves to God” (Romans ch6 vv7-13).
“Put to death what is earthly in you” (Colossians ch3 v5).
In this way, we will be fulfilling to injunction to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God”(Romans ch12 v1).
That self-offering in obedience is the only kind of sacrifice that God really wanted from us.
The change of direction will not be achieved by personal endeavour alone.
“Our inner nature is being renewed every day” (2 Corinthians ch4 v16).
We are being changed into the likeness of Christ, for “this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians ch3 v18).
Thus we are to “grow up in every way into
him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians ch4 v16).
This transformation in Christ is the work of the Spirit of Christ.
For the old life is life “according to the flesh”; but we are no longer “in the flesh” if the Spirit of God, who is also called the Spirit of
Christ, dwells within us.
But the transformation, at the same time, is a joint enterprise between God and man, and we need to be willing to work together with the Spirit.
“Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the
things of the Spirit” (Romans ch8 vv5-9)
The sons of God are led by the Spirit, and by the Spirit
we may put to death the deeds of the body (vv13-14).
We may have been liberated from “the old written code”, but that does not mean that we have been released into lawlessness. It means that we are
following a different kind of guidance; we serve “in the new life of the Spirit” (Romans ch7 v6).
“If we live by the Sprit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians ch5 v25).
The best way to understand this injunction is to remember that the Hebrew language uses the same word for ”Spirit” and ”breath”. Then we can
see the metaphor about the difference between the old life and the new life.
The old life began, according to Genesis, when Adam received “the breath of life”. Our life begins with breathing, and we spend the rest of our
to breathe. In other words, we “live by” this breath, and we also “walk by” this breath.
In the same way, our new life begins when we receive the Holy Spirit. We “live by the Spirit”.
But our first physical breath does not last the rest of our lives, and our relationship with the Holy Spirit, by analogy, should not end with that
We need to “walk by the Spirit” also, living by means of his power, and acting under his guidance.
Our ideal goal would be that the sanctity of our earthly lives would “catch up with” our achieved status of sanctity in the eyes of God. Then we
would indeed be living a “life worthy of the calling”.
“Not that I have achieved this [righteousness] or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own”
But there is no reason to expect this process to be made complete before the final transformation which we are expecting at the return of Christ and
the redemption of our bodies” (Romans ch8 v23)
“May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus
He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessaloniansch5 vv23-4).
edit on 4-1-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)