Evidence of New Life in Christ
When you hear the word “change”, what first comes to your mind?
Is it the changing landscape of our culture?
Does it make you want to cringe and retreat to simpler times?
Or does it bring to mind the difference that Christ’s presence makes in your life?
More than likely for us as believers it may be a combination of all three. This morning I want to focus on the last question using the scriptures to show how the “change” should be embraced and pursued as the fundamental product of the work God has done in us through Christ Jesus. It is an avenue worth pursuing that leads to immense satisfaction for those who take it seriously.
There is a very popular gospel song entitled, “I Know I’ve Been Changed”. Let’s see the how the scriptures shed light on and echo the songwriters declaration. For we are called to present “Evidence of New Life in Christ”.
Please turn with me to as we examine what the “Evidence of New Life in Christ” looks like.
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Characteristics that Define the Gentile Lifestyle (v.17-19)
Futility of Mind
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
They are darkened in their understanding,
18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
alienated from the life of God
because of the ignorance that is in them,
19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
due to their hardness of heart.
Calloused in behavior that manifests itself in
abandonment to (passions fueled by the senses) sensual passions
hunger and zeal for engaging in things that are morally corrupt
You Have What Is Necessary to Live Differently (vv.20-24)
You have learned Christ
You heard about Him
You were taught in Him (by the Holy Spirit?)
The truth was demonstrated through the lifestyle and teachings of Jesus
We are to lay aside or put away our lifestyles based off our sin corrupted desires
You have a new mindset implanted by the Spirit of God
We are to put on or adorn ourselves with a new lifestyle consistent with us being created after the image of God
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
2 Cor. 5:14-18
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Characteristics in Believers that are Evidence of New Life in Christ (vv.25-32)
We have rejected lying to one another and have chosen to be truthful/honest in our engagements with one another
When we become angry at others
we don’t let it cause us to sin
we don’t let it linger
we address the issue promptly
We don’t allow our anger to be a doorway through which the devil is able to cause strife
We go from being thieves who take to being philanthropists who share with anyone in need
We talk differently
Our words are now healthy and balanced (No more water cooler talk)
Our words are appropriate for the occasion (Sometimes we must engage in constructive criticism to gain a good result - just because a conversation is difficult doesn’t make it wrong to have).
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.
We don’t sadden or resist the Holy Spirit which God has given us
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
We are no longer resentful or vindictive, or seeking an opportunity to pay someone back who has wronged us
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We are compassionate and forgiving towards one another
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Showing compassion and extending forgiveness demonstrates that we have both received and understand the power of God’s forgiveness toward us. It is this basis of having been forgiven that we are strengthened and commanded to extend forgiveness to others .
This morning we have seen how radically different our “New Life in Christ” is from our old life of sin. It is my hope that you have been encouraged to be all that God has created you to be.
Our societies are looking for difference makers! The church is looking for difference makers! Will you accept and more fully embrace this challenge to demonstrate your “New Life in Christ?” The scripture says the harvest is ripe but the laborers are few. I am confident that God has equipped you and I for the work/ministry that lies ahead. Let us press on in our calling and distinctness, knowing that God in Christ through the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen us in every way.