In James 2, we learned that true faith is seen in the things we do, and how we do them. The deeds which come from faith are first and foremost about the heart that is behind them. A changed heart is what motivates and directs a change in what we do. True faith unites us to Jesus through the agency of the Holy Spirit so that we become more like Jesus by developing the character of Jesus. So how does this relate to all the areas of our lives?
(Read I Peter 2:13-25)
"For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls." (verse 25)
Peter points to the need for renewal of our souls (a heart change) in order to live well in Christ. We need Jesus to be "the shepherd and overseer of our souls" through the agency of the Holy Spirit. And the evidence of God's ongoing work is found in our willingness to submit to authority.
(Read verse 13)
We submit because Jesus submitted. He was the "example" for us (see verse 21). We submit because He submitted on our behalf. "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness." (verse 24)
Notice that this is not just our motivation, but it is the source of our submission. Jesus died, and when He died we died. We died to sins and now because of the Holy Spirit at work in us we live for righteousness. It really is not an option. It is God's work in us that makes us live for righteousness.
This is the same thing said in the opening Q&A of the Heidelberg Catechism (a tool used to teach the Christian faith in the church with whom I serve). "Christ by His Holy Spirit assures me of eternal life AND makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him." The "makes me" is not simply that Christ motivates me, but that the power of the Holy Spirit changes me from the inside out so that I will live for Him.
So what do you think? What does this passage say to you? How are you seeing God conform you the image of His Son Jesus so that you become more like Him? What questions might you have about this process and how it works in the life of a believer? Let's discuss.