Paul tells us that if pleasing others, whether they be family, friends, neighbors or society at large, is more important than pleasing God, then we are not bond servants of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not happy with being number one in a race with some idols of our making.. He wants to be the one and only one in contention for our affections. This is the Gospel that was revealed to Paul by God. When we really get hold of this message, we understand that repentance is more than turning from an old way of life, it is turning to a new way of living. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.—2 Cor. 5:17 (NASB) No matter how intelligent we are or what strata of society we come from, we must see ourselves and our righteousness as filthy rags before God. Nothing we have can save us and no one else can repent for us, we have to do it for ourselves.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
The Old Testament circumcision was of the flesh as an outward symbol of a covenant relationship with God. Our circumcision is of the spirit removing our sinful nature and replacing it with God’s Holy Spirit. Our hearts and desires were changed and God wrote His Name upon our hearts. Our baptism is the outward symbol of being buried with Christ and raised again to a new life.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”-2 Cor. 5:17 ” Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Eph. 4:24
We were spiritually dead in our sinful nature but now all things are made new. We are new creatures:
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”-Romans 6:4
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Paul is telling us not to live like ignorant and unconverted people do. They have not been regenerated and their minds are full of darkness. They do not walk in the light of the truth of the Gospel. Why? Because they have refused to heed the call of God’s Spirit and have refused to be obedient, so their hearts and minds are closed to any move by the Spirit. Therefore, they live only to satisfy the lusts of the flesh and they participate in all kinds of sinful activity. But we know better. Why? Because we have heard and accepted the Truth. So, we walk according to God’s Spirit. That means that we stop our sinful ways that were corrupted by lust and deception. We are now a new creature and we are guided by the Spirit of God. The real “us” that is carried around in these tents of flesh is being made into God’s image. We look forward to the day when we shall see Jesus. At that time, we will be totally converted into His image. “What a wonderful change in my heart has been wrought’ I’ve been washed by the blood of the Lamb.” Hallelujah and Amen!
30 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it?31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds,32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” — Mark 4:30-32 NLT
Earlier in this chapter, Jesus had told His disciples that they were permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. He also stated that there would be some who would hear and refuse to believe (outsiders) and they would not be able to understand His teachings in the parables that He used (Mark 4:11,12). So, if the disciples were permitted to understand the Kingdom of God, then so can we understand it. Jesus told Nicodemus to enter the Kingdom that it was necessary for him to be born again. So, we become a part of the Kingdom of God when we receive Christ as our Savior. In doing so, we become eligible for all the benefits of that Kingdom here and now, not just in the future. As the birds nest in the shade of the mustard tree, so we live under the umbrella of God’s protection now. Right now, it is a spiritual Kingdom inside of us. When Jesus comes back, He will establish a Kingdom here on earth that will encompass all of His creation and creatures except those that refuse to hear and believe (Daniel 2:44, Rev.11:15). We are preparing to live in that Kingdom in our present life and one day that process will be completed when we are changed into immortal beings (1 Cor 15:50-53). Jesus taught us to pray “may Your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven”. So, while we are preparing for eternity, we live with the assurance that the hope that we have will one day be fulfilled. And it will be so — His will “will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. That is why we end our prayers with “Amen” which means “let it be so”. Partially now and completely in the future.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. — Titus 2:11-14 NIV
We who have accepted Jesus are saved by grace through faith. That offer is made available to everyone. Once we accept the gift of salvation, there will be a change in the desires of our hearts. Worldly, material things will mean less and less to us as we allow the Holy Spirit to change us. There will be things that we used to do, that will no longer hold any attraction for us. Whereas, before the flesh was in control and we followed after the things of the flesh, now, the Spirit is in control and we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We now want to live a lifestyle that is upright and Godly. If we have truly repented and turned from our sins, we will now focus on Jesus and use His lifestyle as an example for us to follow. As Christians, we have a living God and Savior, a claim that no religion can make. We have a high Priest who became flesh and has endured the same temptations that we endure. Our hope, the hope of an eternity with Jesus, cannot be offered by any religion. God, as Jesus, gave Himself to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify us. This purification process starts after we accept Him and continues as long as we are in the flesh. We are being changed from “me first” creatures to “Jesus first, others second and us last” images of the living God. The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the law and brought the dispensation of grace. There are those who will choose not to believe, but others will believe and turn to the Lord, It is God’s desire that everyone should be saved and transformed into His image.
15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. — 2 Cor. 3:15-18 NIV
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love..— 2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV
We have accepted Christ as our Savior, what now? We are now new creatures in Christ Jesus and the new creature needs different food. Our fleshly desires will want us to continue in the old ways consuming the same old garbage, but these ways will not satisfy the new spiritual man. There will be a hunger and a thirst that we have not known before and that hunger and thirst can only be satisfied by the goodness of the Word of God. We need to add some spiritual food to our daily diet. Here in these verses, Peter has made us a short list of what is to be included. The list ends with love, which holds all the others together and without love, the diet would be incomplete and ineffective. We have been saved by grace through faith, now we need to add goodness and the knowledge of God. This is done by studying and meditating on the Word of God. It also includes prayer and conversations with other Christians. God has called each of us to a work that He planned for us long ago. But, first we need some training because God will never send us where He has not prepared us to go. We are sent to make disciples, but first, we must become disciples.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. — Romans 1:16 NIV
This verse must become alive in us and be the force that drives us to be a disciple. It can only be accomplished through “the power of God”.