Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

Romans 6: 13

Now make no mistake about this, the work of transformation in our bodies is done by Christ. However, we are willing participants in this process of change. God has never wanted people to enter into a relationship with Him through compulsion or by means of coercion or force. There are beneficial consequences that come about when we do surrender ourselves to Christ, and there are also correspondingly negative ones if we reject or deny Him. Yet, even these earthly and eternal out workings of our relationship with God do not carry with them the idea of force or of compulsion. Just as we will live throughout our days here and on through the expanse of eternity with our decision regarding the person and the nature of Christ, so too we are allowed to freely choose to follow Christ or to not do so.

This is not just a singular or momentary choice, either. We will continually encounter decisions that involve our desires and will and their conformity to or deviation from God’s Word and His will. For, in all honesty, most people want to think, say, and do things that are pleasing to ourselves but not so to God, that are momentarily pleasurable for our bodies but are contrary to God’s law of truth and grace, or that satisfy inner desires and fill voids within our hearts that would be better filled by Christ and by His redemptive love. Some of these choices are small and the outcomes have limited impact upon the conduct of life; yet, they all matter for even these small things accumulate and grow in their aggregate into systematic ways of thinking, and they become wedges that drive us ever farther away from God’s heart and from serving His gospel. Other decisions that we can encounter in our journey are large and impactful at the level of reshaping the course of life, itself. 

As we are in Christ, all of the process of living belongs to Him. We have been purchased away from slavery to death and ownership by Satan and his worldly forces. This transaction was entered into by God, and the price that was bargained and sealed was the death of the historically singular innocent one, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As God’s great love for each of us was poured out in the form of sweat and drops of Christ’s blood that thus formed the medium for our baptism of grace, we are called upon to fully commit our hearts, minds, and bodies to following Christ and to serving His will throughout the moments and the years of our lives. This is a decision that we are given to make continuously along the way; do I surrender my flesh to Christ to be consumed upon the holy altar of service to the Lord or do I hold onto those aspects of it that make me feel safe or that bring personal pleasure and temporary fulfillment? Holy Spirit, inform and guide my choices today so that they will be pleasing to you, Lord, I pray.  

The LORD your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exalt over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3: 17

 

After the certainty of salvation that comes from knowing Jesus Christ, this is the most comforting thought that I can hold onto as I travel through life. Although this comment was directed to the nation of Israel, it applies equally well to Christ’s church today, and the Lord is also speaking to each of us who follow Christ. The Lord, my God, is here now and always. He has chosen to reside in the world where I live and to dwell with me, and it is Christ’s presence that changes everything. He takes a broken and dying world and makes it a place where His people can find joy and peace and be in constant relationship with our loving Father.

 

It is in and through this presence that God’s great love for people is clearly and continually expressed. He is with us, and He is engaged with our lives in all aspects and areas of them. The Lord is that loving parent who delights in even the simplest of actions that His child undertakes. So, when it comes to actions that reflect the character and the nature of Christ, God is especially delighted in us. For, although He is present in our world, that presence is expressed and magnified by the lives that we live out as we engage with Christ and follow His will, as we live as citizens of the Kingdom of God come to earth.

 

So, for me, God’s joy and celebration of the life that I live leads me to desire to worship Him; thus, the songs that my heart sings become the words that my mouth expresses. The blessings that God is pouring out on me are given to others in the world around me. I desire to live with the joy and the peace that Christ has granted me evident so that the world will see and seek after their source. As God’s great joy over souls saved and relationships established pours out of His people and into our world, we become a public testimony to the King who saves.