The other day I was watching someone on TV that made an interesting comment. In his attempt to describe the relationship Christ calls us to with Him, he indicated that once we receive salvation anything that is done in the body is pretty much meaningless, good or bad. He went on to say that if a person receives salvation, they could go out and sleep around to their hearts delight and it would have no bearing on their relationship and position with Christ. He did say that to do so would be simple stupidity, but he reiterated that it would not change their relationship with Christ and also implied that their eternal destination is secured. There is something definitely wrong with this picture, and the Apostle Paul had something to say about this type of mentality.
In the time of Christ and the Apostle Paul, the city of Corinth was the bustling place to be, a trade center it was also a place of much moral depravity and was well known for it. It was in this setting that the Apostle Paul went there and started a church with the good news of the Gospel. We have two of the three letters Paul wrote to this church in Corinth, letters that brought encouragement and direction as well as strong judgment and corrections regarding some of the behaviors of this church. One area that he addressed in his first letter to them involved a mentality that is shared by the minister I mentioned in the first paragraph. It is in I Corinthians 6:12-20 that we see Paul’s position regarding sexual immorality.
To make his point Paul starts off by reminding us of the liberty we now have in Christ, a liberty he cautions us about in Galatians 5:13 where he tells us not to use our liberty as an opportunity for the flesh. The Apostle Peter also gives the same instruction in I Peter 2:16, telling us not to use the liberty we have in Christ as a cloak for wickedness. Both Paul and Peter acknowledge the liberty we now have in Christ, but they also tell us not to use it for the benefit of our flesh or as an excuse or covering of wickedness in our life.
Later in the sixth chapter of I Corinthians Paul begins to address the sexual immorality that was prevalent in Corinth, specifically within the church in Corinth. The Christians in Corinth had adopted a view, the same as what the minister I was watching the other day is embracing, that their salvation was spiritual and what they did in and with their bodies had no effect or bearing on their relationship with Christ. As a result, the Christians in Corinth were involved in a variety of sexual immorality and thinking nothing wrong with it in regards to their relationship with God. So, Paul needed to set things straight by letting them know that their thinking was all wrong, and that in fact what they did sexually with their bodies did have an effect on their relationship with Christ. Paul goes on to say that our physical bodies are members of Christ, and that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He then reminds us in verse 20 that we were bought with a price, and that we are to glorify God in both our body and in our spirit.
In Romans 6, Paul talks about our relationship to Christ and the place our bodies have in it. In I Corinthians 6 Paul mentions giving our members to a “harlot”, and how that should not be so, but in Romans 6 Paul takes a more general approach to this subject. To keep this in context, we need to remember that Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome, and as such tells us that it applies to us as well. In this chapter in Romans, Paul starts off with a couple of questions, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2 NKJV). He goes on in this chapter talking about yielding our members to sin or to righteousness, and that we become slaves to whatever we yield to. As Christians it is our responsibility to yield our members to righteousness and not sin. That doesn’t mean we will never sin again, but it means that we are now free to not sin if we are led by, walk in, and live in the Spirit. Just because we become a Christian doesn’t mean we’ve lost our free will to choose who or what we will yield to, it’s just that we are now able through the Spirit to resist sin and not walk or live in it anymore.
Paul continues in Romans 8 talking about two different kinds of Christians, those who are led by the Spirit and those who are led by the flesh. A popular verse, Romans 8:1, while I realize that some translations of the Bible omit part of it, many read and cling to the first part of that verse, and forget about or give little heed to the remaining part. Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 NKJV). As you read through this chapter you will see how Paul is comparing both the life and end results of both types of Christians. Some try to argue that those that Paul refer to as walking and living in the flesh are not Christians, but if we are raised to life with Christ because we were originally dead in our sins, how can a non-Christian die if they were never given life to begin with. The end result of a life led and lived according the flesh is that they will not be called the children of God and will die.
I admit, I am someone who tries to live and do things right, described by some as someone who is “by the book”, but I will be the first to say that I’m not perfect and have on many an occasion blown it either knowingly or otherwise. I am well aware of God’s grace and forgiveness and seek to extend it towards others, and I’m okay with that. I’m not perfect and sinless, and I don’t expect others to be either, but there is something that concerns me. It’s not so much that someone has blown it, or even if it was in a big way or not, but it’s the attitude of the person that can be very telling and disconcerting. It’s one thing for someone to stumble or fall in their walk with Christ only to get back up and “brush themselves off”, asking and being grateful for God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness with a genuine desire to not do it again, whatever “it” is. What is disconcerting is when someone that knows they’ve said or done something they know is wrong only tries to make excuses for it, adopting some type of rationalizing that “makes it okay” to blow it. These are people that need to take a real attitude check for themselves as it becomes an issue of attitude and motivations, specifically in regards to their own walk with Christ. Are they serving God because they want to, or are they doing so out of obligation or because it’s the way they were raised? When a person wants to serve God first and foremost simply because of who He is and what He’s done in their life, they’re not looking for ways to justify or rationalize wrong behavior. Instead, they’re looking with gratitude for how they can please Him in all they do, simply because they love Him and want to. When we try to make excuses and try to rationalize what we’ve said or done, that sends the message that we’re still being very self-centered, looking more to please ourselves than the One who made salvation available to each of us. It’s is during these times that we are actually being led by our flesh and not by His Spirit, which Paul addresses in Romans 8. Do we want to live being led by our flesh, or by His Spirit? It’s all in the attitude and motivations. Even I have to check my attitudes and motivations at times, making sure it’s pleasing and acceptable to Him. How about you?
The return of Christ for His bride is so close that we could say it’s imminent, and that stands to reason all the more why we should take an inventory of our attitudes and motivations regarding our walk and relationship with Christ. Are we truly living for Him, or for ourselves? Just because we get our attitudes and motivations right doesn’t mean that we will have “obtained”, as we should continually be looking to become more like Christ. How do we do that? We do that like the Apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 6, yield ourselves and the members of our bodies for righteousness and not for sin and the flesh, an ongoing task. When we talk of our members, it’s not just our hands, arms and legs, but it’s also our eyes, ears and mouth, as well as our thought life. Are we more concerned about pleasing Him or more concerned about pleasing ourselves and others?
It’s in the attitude. Maybe it’s time to do an inventory of your attitudes and motivations for living for and serving Him?