Posts Tagged ‘New Birth’

All Cleaned Up?

Take a homeless woman from some back alley of an inner city, provide her a shower, style her hair, give her some decent clothes, then take her back to her cardboard box midst the other street people. Now, what good have you done her? How much effect will your efforts show after just a couple of days back in her old life?

In 2 Peter 2:22, the apostle quoted what he called a true proverb: “The sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” The sow is continuing in her natural ways. Likewise a person, if you put her back in her old situation, also will continue in the same old ways.

The comparison to Christian living is unavoidable. When we come to Christ, we are cleansed of sins. But aren’t we also to change our living? Don’t we accept a new way of thinking and acting? Variously described in scripture as walking in the light, walking in the Spirit, walking by faith, having the mind of Christ, loving God with our entire heart, soul, mind and strength, carrying our cross, growing in grace, being a new creation, etc., the idea that we come to Christ to gain a new beginning and new direction for life permeates the New Testament.

I have known many people who thought that their one time encounter with God was sufficient. These folks believe they are protected by God even though they do nothing godly with their lives. Many hold to sinful habits, yet think their one time nod to spiritual things serves to make them right with the Almighty. I have no doubt that most of these folks sincerely desired to enter God’s kingdom. But they either did not know that God asks for us to become new, or they found it distasteful and gave up.

If that hypothetical homeless person goes back to living life on the street, her one time clean look will do no good at all. She will continue in hunger, cold and loneliness.  In the same way, if I continue living in this world according to a secular outlook, I will not receive the spiritual blessings I once desired.

“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. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil…Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:21-30, English Standard Version).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV).