Wednesday, August 08, 2012

walking through the gospel: believing and following Jesus now {part one}


Believing in Jesus changes your heart; seeing your sin for what it is brings repentance to your heart and changes your life because of the Holy Spirit.

When you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into your heart and starts to bring change to the way you act. This is one of the ways we see God work today- He brings change from the inside out!

Sometimes it's sudden and sometimes it can be a slow process over time, but when you believe, God surely changes your heart to leave behind the ways of the world.

Jesus is the light of the world. Once you believe in Jesus, you are walking in the light. You can no longer walk in the darkness, because the light shines in the darkness, and darkness is no more.

But what is darkness? What are the ways of the world?

the darkness

We know that darkness is sin, but the Bible specifically describes the ways of the world here:

Romans 13:
11Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

So the works of darkness are things that I think we probably already recognize as bad or evil: sexual sins, lust, drunkenness, fighting and jealousy. I think most non-believers would recognize those things as evil as well.

We see the list again in 1 Peter 4:
1 Peter 4
1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

Peter adds idolatry {from Google: Worship of idols, or extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone} and lust to the list specifically, as well as carousing {from Google: to drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.}.

If you look at the world, especially the American culture/scene, you'll see lots of drinking and lots of immoral sex- activities that are not acceptable or pure in the sight of God. And sadly enough, they are almost completely accepted and normal in today's world.

The Bible commands us not to be drunk with wine, and not to have sex outside of marriage;

Ephesians 5:18
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

1 Thessalonians 4:18
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

why we leave behind the darkness

When you walk with Jesus, you are done with the ways of the world- you can't live in them anymore.

1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is youra life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:b sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming.c 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old selfd with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 

When you walk in the light, you are done with the darkness. You can't stay in those sins. You have to put them away- even things like lying, anger, speaking badly of another person, and hatred are acts of the darkness. Wow, right?

But why are those things so important to avoid?

You are the children of God! You are a new creation- made in the image of your Creator. Those who stay in darkness are not going to have a part of the kingdom of God:

3But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 

At one time, you were walking in darkness, and now you have no place there. You can't keep hanging out with darkness- you can't stay in partnership with it.

Instead, your belief will shine light on the darkness, and expose it for what it is. This might be the hard part for you- leaving behind parts of life that you know so well. Maybe even friends, or family.

When you leave darkness behind, and the ones with whom you used to walk in it, those in the darkness might be upset and actually say mean things about you. The Bible tells us this in 1 Peter 4:

3For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

You can't stay in the way of the world, but you are to continually be growing in Christ by the Holy Spirit, so that you can understand the will of God for your life:

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In part two, next week, we will talk about what walking in the light looks like, and what the will of God is for the life of the believer.

{I wrote it all out for this week and decided to break it up so we could study it together more effectively! :) I just get ridiculously excited about these things! So no new worksheet this week! ;) }

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