Making the adjustment from the ways of the world to the ways of the kingdom is hard. But guilt is a poor motivator. ….Being an apprentice of Jesus is not about rules and laws, it is about identity and place. The Christian life is not an if-then obligation (“If I do this, then God will do that”). It is a because-therefore opportunity (“Because I am one in whom Christ dwells, therefore I will . . .”). The better way to encourage change is to remind people who they are now in contrast to who they once were. That’s what Paul does in his letters to new Christians. Christ lives in us, and our life is in him. Instead of applying guilt, we should say to ourselves, I am a Christ-inhabited person. What does that look like in the world I live in?
There is no escaping the reality—thanks be to God—that I am one in whom Christ dwells and therefore I am called to live differently than the life I once lived. Not because my salvation is dependent on it. Not because God will be mad at me if I do not. Not even because people are watching what I do and when I sin it is a bad witness. Put simply, I am called to live differently because I am not the person I once was. Paul’s logic is consistent in all of his epistles (see, for example, Ephesians 2 and Romans 5–6). It is not a matter of salvation, it is a matter of being authentically who we are.
Soul Training – Taking it Deeper:
Read Ephesians Chapter 2 and Romans Chapter 5-6. Write down significant words or phrases from that emerge from the chapters. Take about 5 minutes to reflect on the significance of these words. Consider writing a paragraph (3-4 sentences) summary of what Paul has written. Personalize this summary by using your name or I in the summary.
Example Sentences: I, Jim, was once living in sin but now the Spirit is at work in my heart. God loves me and has been rich in his mercy towards me. God has raised me, Jim, up with Jesus. Jesus has brought Good-news of peace to me. I, Jim, can now live life as one whom is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.