Believe in Jesus and love one another. Simple to say, not so simple to do. How can we know that we truly believe in Jesus? Do we instantly change or do we suddenly feel different? Or is it a gradual change over the years? It is some of both, we are instantly saved the moment we believe. We may not feel any different but salvation is based on knowledge not on feelings or emotions although we may get emotional when it happens. Salvation is the foundation of Christianity, it is involved in our lifelong process of sanctification and it is the capstone of the completed temple God is building in our bodies. So, how do we know this process is taking place on a daily basis? Do we love others more or differently? Does the grief and sorrow of others affect us more than before? Is our outlook slowing changing from “what about me?” to “what can I do for Jesus and His Kingdom today?” Does it break our hearts to know that we have done or said something that hurt Jesus and His Kingdom? If the answer to all of these questions is “Yes”, then we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is dwelling inside of us accomplishing what God wants in our lives. If the answers are no or I’m not sure, then perhaps it would not hurt to take another look at the foundation and see if it is solid.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
God, because of His great love, mercy and grace made the plan of salvation so simple that a child can understand it. Because of the simplicity of the plan, it often brings the question, “Is that really all I need to do to be saved?’. And the simple answer is yes. So, we can just keep doing what we were doing? No! and again No! But now we are talking about sanctification which is a lifelong process. The good works we do are not to gain a greater salvation. If we could do enough good works to be saved then Jesus died in vain. We might as well still be living under the law and all of its impossible requirements. But Jesus did not die in vain. His death and resurrection fulfilled the law and opened the gate to heaven so that all that chose Him in faith could come in. When Paul tells the Philippians to “work out your own salvation”, he is not telling them to look for another way to be saved. He is telling them to do good works to show the world the results of their salvation.
Jesus “went about doing good”. He is our example of how we are to live our lives as His brothers and sisters. As Christians, our response to certain things should be so different from the response of the worldly that it gets their attention. Our good works not only attract others to Jesus but they are also how we “lay up rewards in heaven”.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.— 2 Cor. 5:3-5 NLT
When God first made man in His image, He looked at what He had made and said “it is very good” (Gen 1:31). Decay and death were not known at this time. Then sin came into the world and things were no longer “very good”. Our bodies, along with all creation, started to deteriorate and eventually die. Jesus came into the world as a man to redeem the fallen creation and restore it to the order that had been in the garden. Jesus brought hope to a dying world. He came that we might be made “new creations”. Newness requires that we get rid of the old. We are saved when we accept Jesus and our Spirits are renewed but we remain in a fleshly body in a sinful world. The Spirit is being renewed day by day but the flesh is decaying day by day.
16 So we have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day. — 2 Cor.4:16 The Voice
Our hope, the thing that makes Christianity different from anything else, is that we will one day leave these rotting, fleshly bodies and live in those heavenly bodies that God has created for each of us. Bodies that do not suffer pain and will not decay or die. God has prepared and continues to prepare us for this transition. We have a guarantee of this that lives inside of us so that we are never alone or without hope. Until the process is complete and Jesus comes again, we live hopefully and joyfully “looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith”.
15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”–1 Peter 1:15,16 (NLT)
22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.–Eph. 4:22-24 (NLT)
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit sets up a residence in our hearts. God has sent His Spirit to “lead us into all truth”. There are some things (and those things are different for all of us) from which we are immediately delivered. We could make a long list of those things: smoking, drinking, overeating, gossiping, lying, bitterness, hatred and we could go on and on. And those instant deliveries should encourage us to continue on in the faith. But none of us are instantly delivered from all our erroneous ways and habits. It is a daily process of being led by God’s Spirit and learning more of the truth. As we study God’s Word, we find more things that we need to allow God to change so that we can be transformed into His image. We all still sin, but we have to stay on guard and not let satan bring us down with guilt. We must repent. That means more than turning away from the sin, it means we turn to something else. Each time we empty a spot in our heart, we must allow God’s Spirit to fill it with something new. Pay close attention to Paul’s instructions in verse 24, “clothe yourself with the new self”. When we put off the old, we should be careful to put on the “new”. The “new” will guard us against the fiery darts of our enemy.
6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.—Romans 7:6 NASB
9 But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.”–Jonah 2:9 (NASB)
1 Then you will say on that day, “I will give thanks to You, O Lord; for although You were angry with me, your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. 2 “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” — Isaiah 12:1-2 (NASB)
Living a Holy life is impossible on a human level. Just as the people in the Old Testament could not fulfill every point of the law, we cannot live a sinless life. Jesus was and is the only perfect man. There will be times that we fail (and sometimes we will fail miserably) but Jesus has already paid the price for our forgiveness. So, if you have sinned (intentionally or unintentionally), you are already forgiven. Do we need to confess those sins? Yes, forgiveness is free, but you have to ask for it. When Jesus was hanging on the cross and He said, “It is finished”. All of His redemptive work for all times was complete. Jesus is not going to die on the cross again. So, if satan is beating you up over a mistake you made, quote him a Word of Scripture and/or sing Him a good old hymn. Just tell him, “God is my salvation, He is my strength and my song. The point is this, we cannot live perfect lives, but God forgives and restores. Don’t let satan trick you into thinking that now you are useless to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God still has a plan and a purpose for each of us. God sees each of us as a finished project while we can only see the work in progress. Just remember, it is impossible to surprise God. Before He saved us, He already knew the mistakes we would make, but He saved us anyway. So rejoice and sing praises to Him because He is always faithful.