Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6: 9-11

There are many ways in which people can offend God, and even Paul’s lengthy list above does not come close to including all of them. In fact, we humans are so creative and devious that we are still inventing new ways to turn our hearts, minds, and our actions against God and violate what it means to be righteous and holy. I have lived long enough to be confident when I state that we are all participants in this rebellion against God, and everyone who draws breath is guilty of various crimes against the moral and ethical code that is the foundation of God’s kingdom on earth and in heaven. Yet, just as we all deserve to be punished for our sins against God; thus, each of us deserves to be subjected to a sentence of death, we are all provided with the opportunity to obtain full and absolute pardon because Jesus has taken that penalty upon Himself for me and for you.

For despite the fact that God has set a very high standard for righteous living, He also does not desire to see any of us fail to live up to that mark. The reality that so many do not get there is something that makes God sad to the degree that it causes Him severe pain and enduring grief. People are provided with a readily obtainable opportunity to enter into a relationship with God through the acceptance of Christ as who and what He claimed to be, for He is the Son of God and the Savior who was promised from the beginning of humanity’s wandering days. Jesus took upon Himself our debt of sin, and He will stand before the holy and righteous Father, God and proclaim anyone who professes His name to be pure and justified and thus worthy to be in the everlasting presence of that same perfect Holiness.

The gift of salvation is there for the taking. Its enormous price has already been paid by Jesus; so, there is nothing left for any of us to do but to accept what is given to us. This open-handed offer of redemptive cleansing is also continuously held out to each of us who has accepted Christ and entered into His transformative work in our hearts and minds. As we allow the Spirit access to the deep places within our hearts, He works within us to change those remaining elements of sinfulness and rebellion into holy and righteous thoughts and actions that serve God’s purposes on earth and that bring glory to His name among the people who we encounter in life. In Christ we have been made worthy of the name children of God, and through the on-going work of His Spirit, we will continue to grow and mature in our capacity and our capability to live out God’s calling to serve Him and to proclaim His name in the world.   

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He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

1 John 5: 12

 

There is being alive. This is the state of breathing and moving about while working hard at crafting a meaningful life. Then, there is having the life. When Christ becomes real for an individual, and we surrender our selves to Him, we gain a form of life that is impossible otherwise, and we gain an existence that is both eternal and has eternity written all over it.

 

The only way to become infused with the wisdom, understanding, and love of God is to have His Spirit enter into our beings. Thus, the only way to gain access to the presence of God in our lives is through trusting Jesus enough to accept who He is. Then, by surrendering control of my life to Him, I am able to enter into a relationship with Him. The yielding was a one time decision that has been followed by a lifetime of accepting the fact that God is continually gracious toward my wandering heart; thus, He needs to keep on redirecting my heart and mind toward His loving purposes. The fact that Christ is gracious and patient with me is one of the most beautiful ideas that I have ever encountered. At the same time, however, His righteousness is unrelenting. He will not allow me to just get away with it. This patience, grace and righteousness in balance with each other is the essence of the life that we have in and through Christ.

 

In the few simple words of this verse John sets forth the fundamental truth and the basic need of all people’s lives, everyone requires the life if we desire to truly live. Each of us needs to stay in intimate touch with the giver of the life if we want to live fully, boldly and noticeably as children of God. When we live in this manner, Christ will seek to compel us to share the simple truth of the importance of this relationship with others. He commands us to boldly share the truth of the means for others to transition from simply being alive to living in the full expression of the life through Christ.

 

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5: 25

 

God wants His children to live. He wants us to live it up, to live life fully, and to be utterly alive. Although, God does tell us to change the way that we live from one that is controlled by self-directed and self-serving thinking and uncontrolled actions, He doesn’t mean that we are to spend all of our lives locked away in sober, solitary, and silent reflection. The Lord wants us to live in a fully engaged and totally involved manner in our world. If we consider the way that Jesus lived as an example of the way that God intends for us to live, then we have a powerful model of what it means to be alive.

 

Paul gave us two contrasting lists of life qualities that we can examine. The first includes sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies; these actions describe the way that people tend to live when they are finding their satisfaction from within themselves alone and from the natural world absent the controlling touch of the Creator of that world. The second list is a description of the fruit that comes from the Spirit of Christ, and it includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The difference maker between these lists is Christ, and the difference is made by the continual work of His Spirit in our lives.

 

We are called to live!

 

This is a powerful imperative; we are to live in the fullest and most passionate way imaginable. The direction, strength, and empowerment behind this sort of life is from the Spirit, and the key to consistency in living this way is to keep filling up on Christ’s Spirit. Turn to Him through the Word, in prayer, and in relationship with other children of God. The life that courses through our veins brings about an ever-deepening knowledge and understanding of God and leads us to engagement with our world for His glory. As we continually allow Christ the opportunity to keep us living in the center of His very full life, He takes us to a depth of relationship with God that is the place where true life dwells.

 

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason that the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

1 John 3: 1

 

You know, estrangement and isolation are not all bad. Living as a stranger in this world is also fine if this sense of separation is due to our movement away from our old way of being and toward God and into His righteousness. There is a tension that exists between God and the evil that has taken temporary residence here in our world. We can feel it when we are conflicted between doing what Christ tells us is right and what may seem best for us at a given moment. These are times when the border war for our hearts has flared up into open conflict.

 

We are all born into allegiance to God’s enemy; yet, even while we are so aligned, God sees us as beloved children, as lost sheep. He calls, and He comes searching, and He never stops loving us. Christ’s blood placed the official seal on our adoption papers; thus, we already have a new home for our hearts and our souls with God. All that is left for us to do is to accept that gift by allowing Jesus in and by trusting Christ with our lives. Then we become fully invested members of God’s family. We are children of God in every sense and with all of the entitlements that go with that status.

 

Our place and our purpose in this life changes, too. We are given the role of peacemakers; we are commissioned to seek an end to the strife that exists everywhere in this world by bringing the news of God’s love to conflicted people. True peace is found when our relationship with God is active and alive, and it is this peace with Him that matters totally. We need to embrace the strangeness of this world in that the more we move into the center of God’s will and the better we know His love, the more He will place us into contact with people who need to be loved by God. Then we can let people see the difference in us, allow them to know us in our estrangement from the world. Christ leads us to help them see the way to this new life of living inside of God’s total love.