A Christian is one who has died to sin (repentance), been buried with Jesus in baptism, and raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4); he has been "born again" (John 3:5). Since we have died to sin, we must reckon ourselves "to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:11). Will sin no longer be a problem?
We have been "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20). We have put to death the old man of sin; our new life must be different from our old one. There are many changes that we must make. We are to be holy--because God is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness (1 Thess. 4:7).
Because of our repentance, God has washed away our sins when we were baptized (Acts 22:16); we have been added to the body of Christ, the church (Acts 2:47). God has promised, based on our faith and obedience, to forgive us of our sins (Acts 2:38) and to give us eternal life (Heb. 5:9). We have faith in his promise (Col. 2:12).
Paul compares the Christian life to one who is changing clothes (Col 3). Imagine the worker who has spent all day laboring in the fields. His hands are full of dirt, and his body is covered with sweat. [Sin makes us spiritually filthy.] He comes home and removes the dirty clothes. Then he washes away the sweat and grime with soap and water and puts on clean clothes. When we repent of our sins and are baptized, we remove the old clothes and are washed in the blood of Christ.
Would we want to put on those old garments that are still dirty and sweaty? Of course not. We want to wear the fresh, clean clothes of righteousness. We want to be the holy people God has made us (1 Peter 2:9). Following are verses in which Paul makes this comparison.
Even our thinking must be changed (2 Cor. 10:5). We must become more concerned about heavenly (spiritual) matters than the things we so often dwell on of an earthly nature. We must put to death those ideas that would lead us back into sin: "fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5). Paul next talks about those things which, like dirty clothes, we must remove.
The list of things in verse 5 concerns problems of a sexual nature; those listed in verses 8-10 concern attitude and speech. When we become Christians, we make changes in our lives. The way that we think changes. Life is viewed in light of eternity, not just in terms of daily living. Those things that are most important now relate to Jesus and His church. We know that Jesus is coming back for His people (alive or dead) to take them to heaven. Jesus is our life (Col. 3:4). Until the time He returns (2 Thess. 1:7-9), we must devote ourselves to Him.
Our attitudes must be different from the sinful ones we once had. We must control anger rather than expressing it for all to see. We must watch what we say: a filthy mouth should not be found in a cleansed soul. Our tongues should not be used for corrupt speech or to deceive people. Certainly people devoted to Truth cannot tell lies. But Christianity is more than just putting off the old thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We must put on the new clothes that God wants us to wear.
Changing oneself is not easy. Pride must be changed into humbleness of mind; anger must be changed into kindness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiveness. Selfishness must be changed into love. Becoming a Christian means becoming a new person--not only in relationship to God, but to other people, also. We are to conform ourselves to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Even if we must suffer for righteousness' sake, we are to follow His example (1 Peter 2:21-24).
The new life also brings a freshness to all earthly relationships. It means we will be better husbands and wives (Col. 3:18-21; Eph. 5:22-33). We will be better servants (workers) and masters (Col. 3:22-4:1). We will be better citizens (1 Peter 2:13-17). How glorious it is to be a Christian, a new person with better earthly relationships! The greatest blessing of all is to be one of God's children walking in the light rather than one of Satan's walking in darkness.
If you have been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you have many blessings and also many obligations or duties. The first one is to put God first in your life (Luke 14:26-33; Matt. 22:37-39). The second one is to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).
Then you must "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:40). You have obligations to your brethren in the church as well as to those who are not Christians. All brethren are to "love one another," as Christ loved us (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-8). There are a number of passages that speak of ways to help each other, such as of teaching, admonishing, encouraging, and serving one another (Eph. 5:19; Heb. 3:13; Gal. 5:13, and many others). What about those who are not Christians?
Paul said that he was debtor to all men; he owed them the gospel (Rom. 1:14); so do you. If you have not yet obeyed the gospel, please consider carefully that your sins have earned you eternal damnation, but God wants you to have eternal life (Rom. 6:23). Contact someone in the churches of Christ and ask him to baptize you for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:28). God will richly bless you.
QUESTIONS FOR LESSON #8: NEWNESS OF LIFE
FILL IN THE BLANKS WITH THE PROPER ANSWER
1. Even though a person becomes a Christian, there is still a problem of ______ to overcome. We must remember that we are________ to sin and _________to God.
2. Being a Christian means taking off one's __________clothes and putting on _________ ones.
3. The Christian should set his affections on things _________, not on things on the ________.
4. When we become Christians, we make _____________ in our lives.
5. A __________ mouth should not be in a ___________ soul.
6. __________ must be changed into humbleness of mind; ________ must be changed into kindness; and _________________ must be changed into love.
7. We are to ___________ ourselves into the image of Christ.
8. We are instructed to _______ out our own salvation with ______ and trembling.
9. God must be put ________ in our lives, and we must _______ our neighbors as ourselves.
MARK THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS TRUE OR FALSE
1. We must be holy because God is holy and has called us to holiness. ______
2. God has promised eternal life to those who are faithful and obey Him. ______
3. Fornication and other sexually-related sins must be put away. ______
4. It is all right for Christians to become angry and lie once in a while. ______
5. A Christian changes the way he thinks, his attitudes, the way he speaks, and the way he behaves. ______
6. Jesus will return some day to take His people to Heaven. ______
7. Being Christians will make us better husbands, wives, workers, and citizens. ______
8. Christians have no obligations to those who are not Christians. ______
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