Monday, April 9, 2012

Going Deeper for the week of April 8

In Ephesians 1:18-20, the apostle Paul prays, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He (God) has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead ..."  

So in the aftermath of Resurrection Sunday, I ask what is that power and what does it mean to us today?

(Read Romans 6:1-4)

In Christ we may live a new life.  But what does that new life look like?

(Read Romans 6:5-14)

Jesus died, and then He rose again so that now in His new life He cannot die again.  Through faith in Jesus we too have "died with Him", but that is not all.  We too through faith have also been raised with Him to a new life.  Therefore, it is time we begin to live this new life by living for God!

But let me be clear.  Living our new life in Christ does not mean learning to follow rules, or just being "good".  This is not moralism, and it is not done in our own human strength.  Our new life is the work of God in us through the Holy Spirit because of our faith in Jesus.  This is God's power at work in us.  It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!  And it is at work in us even now so that we too can live a new life for God.

You see grace is not the same as license.  Grace does not give us permission to do bad things (as we will see in the next part of chapter 6).  Rather grace is God's power making us new, shaping our wills, and guiding us into truth.

(Read Romans 6:15-23)

"You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" (verse 18)  

Righteousness means both that we are made right with God through Jesus' atoning work, but it also means a way of life that is pleasing to God.  However, there is a catch here.

Notice how Paul says we are no longer slaves to sin and now have become slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.  The catch is that no matter what we are still slaves.  (see verses 20-22)  Slaves are not free (in the sense of free to do whatever they choose), rather slaves are bound to a master.  Our master used to be sin leading to death.  But now in Jesus Christ our master is righteousness (God working in us by the power of the Holy Spirit) and the new life we have been given leads to holiness and eternal life!

Yet eternal life is not something we earn!  (Read verse 23)  Sin's wages = death, but God's gift = eternal life.  God gives us the gift of eternal life, which we receive through faith in Jesus.  And this whole process makes us slaves to righteousness.  So that we do what is right not according to the rules, but by the work of God's spirit in us by faith in Jesus.  This is the new life, and it is what we are called to live in the aftermath of Jesus' resurrection from the dead!

So what about you?  Do you have questions?  Does this make sense?  How can we offer ourselves as slaves to righteousness today?

Let's discuss.

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