Yesterday we read about how we are different from the world and that difference is expressed by how we treat people. Today, we see how that difference is exhibited by our behavior. Verses 1-3 read,
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
Jesus suffered so much and it was for our benefit. Our own suffering, which for most of us will never be as bad as Christ’s can also be for our benefit. We can learn from it and we develop the character of Christ because of it. Romans 5:1-5 says it like this,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
We cannot let Jesus sacrifice on the Cross and His victory over death and sin mean nothing to us by not letting his suffering or own transform us. The past is the past. God no longer sees our sins we He looks at us, He sees us as new righteous creations. There is no sin in Christ. Christ was sinless, He took our sin away, and we no longer have sin in us or on us. 1 John 3:4-6 reads,
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Although we can and sadly often do act the way we did before we knew Jesus, we do not have to be compelled to sin any longer. Even though we may do things that are considered sins, we are not under the law any longer so theoretically nothing we do is sin. But there are things which produce goodness and things which do not. There are practices, behaviors, and attitudes which exalt God and there are those which exalt ourselves. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says it this way,
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
We are just not the same as we used to be. Exalting ourselves and feeding our basal desires just doesn’t hold the same charm anymore. The world will undoubtedly take note of the difference and they will not like it. The old friends we used to party with, won’t recognize the new person we’ve become and they will want their old friend back. Why? Because our new desire to be good shows them that their actions are not so good. Verses 4-7 read,
With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
Judgement Day is coming. They will be judged. But our walk with Jesus in the Spirit can speak volumes to the lost. We can tell them the wonderful news of Jesus Christ and they can be saved! But if we act the way we acted before we knew Jesus, if we sin the way we used to, they won’t see Jesus as real and they won’t see His power and saving grace.
Living by grace doesn’t mean sinning as if there is no such thing as law, it means exercising the power of God within us and living the holy righteous lives we can because God is able to transform us. Verses 8-11 read,
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Grace is wonderful and miraculous. We are not yet perfect but we have been perfected, even while God is still making us perfect. The law is no longer something we follow to be called good. It is part of us, written onto our hearts, so that we understand the crux of it which is reconciliation with God. We are free to love as God loves. Hebrews 10:14-18 reads,
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
We will make mistakes but if we strive to act out of God’s love, we will not make those mistakes as often. Even when we do, love will cover the mistake with grace. People need God’s grace and we have it! We can show them His marvelous grace through exercising the gifts we’ve been given. We use those gifts for our benefit, the church’s benefit, and the world’s benefit. If we don’t use them, we are not serving Jesus Christ as we could, we are serving ourselves and hiding the Gospel from those who desperately need it.
We will suffer. We do suffer. And there are different kinds of suffering. Sometimes we go through awful things because we acted in certain ways and we have to experience the consequences of those choices. That suffering can discipline us. But sometimes our suffering is undeserved. Sometimes it is because we are standing up for Jesus, walking in the Spirit, and refusing to deny Christ by giving in to sin. That suffering can also teach us but in addition it glorifies God and points the world to Jesus. Verses 12-19 read,
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Jesus suffered for our sake and the sake of every person on this planet. He was lifted up and hung on a cross as the world tried to humiliate Him. But the curse they tried to inflict on Jesus became a blessing and honor for us. So when people slander you, try and hurt you, or try to shame you undeservedly, remember Jesus will be glorified. Rejoice, you are being honored and your suffering can be a blessing to those living under the curse of death. Rejoice because the trials you are suffering are making you more like Jesus. If your life is changing to look like Jesus, then maybe you ought to question if you are walking in Christ. If your suffering isn’t reshaping your character into Jesus’ character, then perhaps you ought to question if The Holy Spirit is in you. Judgement Day is coming for all of us.