Isaiah 11-13 Ephesians 4
“You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse, because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do. But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NCV)
It’s not a popular opinion today, nor was it back in Paul’s day. There is right and wrong; there is good and evil. How we live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven is important. Paul made that clear to the Ephesians and to us today. It’s a simple proposition: if you are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, your life should reflect who you are now as a citizen of the kingdom, even more so as a child of the king. The evil we used to do in our old way of life needs to disappear and be replaced by the new person we are, made in the image of God.
There’s a heretical view of grace floating around that since we’re saved by grace, and we grow by grace, it doesn’t matter how we live. We can indulge ourselves in just about any kind of behavior so long as it’s done in love. Paul would be livid at that idea. He showed that in the book of Romans when he asked the rhetorical question: “shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” His answer might be translated as “Are you out of your ever-loving mind?” Grace calls us to become like God and molds us to become like Him in the process. We’re new people. We aren’t just sinners in a grace wrapping. We’re grace-filled citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven created to be like God: truly good and holy. We can’t achieve that level of goodness on our own. We can’t achieve it perfectly this side of heaven. Still, we’re called to let the Holy Spirit mold us in the image of God. We do that by ignoring the call of our old lives that keep whispering temptations to return to those ways because God will forgive. We do that by spending time with God in His word and through prayer, and by staying in constant contact with Him throughout the day. Sometimes, Christians lament how much they give up when they become followers of Christ and wonder if they can’t integrate the activities of their old lives into their Christian faith. Instead, we should look at the joys and opportunities of our new life in Christ realizing that those are far better than our old ways.
Lord, thank You for freeing me from the sins of my old way of life. Give me the strength to overcome the temptation to live the old way and give me the power to live fully as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. As I live in Your grace, Lord, let me show others the amazing power of Your mercy and forgiveness.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.