by Mike Ratliff
ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NA28)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold he has become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
When Christ comes into your life, your life changes. God’s Word everywhere declares that a change is automatic when someone truly believes. However, this is not entirely a passive thing. There is something called walking in repentance that is our part. I am sure all of you know someone or you may have personal testimony pertaining to struggling with sin or sins for years that seemed to cling very close and no matter what freedom from the sin(s) seemed like chains in prison. However we are commanded to be not sin like that aren’t we?
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)
I have taught many times and in many ways on this blog about walking in repentance. If you have followed these teachings then you know that we are called to deny self, take up our crosses and follow our Lord Jesus Christ every day. We are to become living sacrifices Holy and acceptable unto God which is our spiritual service. We are to become transformed through the renewal of our minds… Yes, you should have learned all that. However, I do know that sin has a way of finding its way back into our lives in ways we least expect it and it can cut in on us in the race and cause us even to believe we have become disqualified at times. What is going on?
I am convinced that Romans 7 is a very real reality for most if not all of us in this flesh-obsessed culture. If we are not focused on God and His glory and our real position in His Kingdom then we can easily become focused wrongly, that is, on the flesh, this world, and what the world tells us that we need. When the sin has taken root and we find ourselves neck deep in it then it is too late to stop it, but for those in Christ, it is never too late to repent.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For 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. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:3-14 ESV)
At first glance this passage seems to declaring that anyone who commits those sins certainly cannot be a Christian, but that is not the case. The verb tenses tell us that Paul is talking about these sins marking how a person lives.
There are six sins listed in this passage that Christians work with God to remove from their lives.
- sexual immorality
- covetousness (greed)
- foolish talk
- crude joking
The second, impurity, is the Greek word ἀκαθαρσία or akatharsia, figuratively speaks of moral corruption (Romans 1:24; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5).
The third, covetousness, is the Greek word πλεονεξία or pleonexia, “the longing of the creature which has forsaken God to fill itself (the creature) with the lower objects of nature.”
The next three, filthiness, foolish talk and crude joking all have to with words. It is ungodly use of language that Christians should never do because this aligns them with this evil age.
What is the key sin here that all the rest spring from? If we conquer this one sin the rest will have no power over us. It is covetousness or greed. Why? What is at the core of this sin? What is going on when we covet? We are being idolaters. What is one and only way to defeat covetousness or greed within us so that it has no power over us? It is gratitude toward God, to be content where He has us.
Yes, I know that each of us will find ourselves in difficult or ugly circumstances and I do not think we need to thank God for those things, but we do need to be grateful that He is right here with us in the midst of those fiery trials. Contentment, which is fueled by gratitude and thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:4 above), will destroy all the hooks that our flesh and our enemy are trying to utilize to drag us back into these sins.
Gratitude will free you!
Soli Deo Gloria!