Monday, June 20, 2011

The Old Self

 1 Corinthians 6:11 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.

11 καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε· ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν.

Paul had just explained again about how all kinds of sinners would not inherit the Kingdom of God. Then he uses a wonderful word in  ἦτε. This is the imperfect form of "to be." What Paul means here is that there was a time when our lives were characterized as sexually immoral, swindlers, etc. Then he uses the very strong adversative ἀλλὰ. It is terrible English, but the most literal translation of this would be, "And this is the way some of you were, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified." There is no grammatical reason for him to use the word three times, so it is a good guess that it is for emphasis. Paul is creating a stark contrast between the former life and the new life in Christ. 

As I wrote previously, there is an assumption in Paul's writings that the Christian will have experienced a changed life. We can call ourselves whatever we want, but if we are truly new creations in Christ then our lives will show it. To paraphrase an old children's song, if you're saved and you know it then your life will surely show it.

Please understand that I am not promoting a works-righteousness as the disciples of Zane Hodges may accuse me of doing. Nor am I saying that the Christian walks in perfect obedience. The book of 1 John certainly contradicts that idea as does the testimony of my life. But all of these things represent ways of life. Is my life characterized by sin now or is it characterized by freedom? That's really the question I need to ask myself.

The good news is that if I am truly in Christ then as far as God is concerned I will ultimately be seen as perfect because Christ is perfect. He represents me as the great High Priest as well as the perfect atoning sacrifice for my sin. It is not based on my performance. However, if my life does not change then I need to question what my salvation really means to me.

This seems to be a theme in 1 Corinthians. He is challenging them in the sense that if they want to call themselves Christians then their lives should be Christlike. The challenge is no different for us today.

No comments: