The Christian Life
Advanced Bible Studies, Lesson 6 of 8
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them: And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:26-28,31).
Man, as God created him, was the crown and glory of creation. As it is written, "...For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet" (Psalm 8:5-6). Yet, the prophet cried out, "...For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away" (Isaiah 64:6). The difference between man crowned with "glory and honour" and man "as a polluted garment" is sin. "Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2). It is because of sin that man has become "the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17).
Part of the glory of the Gospel is that is has the power to make man what God intended him to be when he was created. "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Mans problem is in his heart. The wise king, Solomon, wrote, "For as he thinketh within himself, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus taught: "...But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: these are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man " (Matthew 15:18-20). This is why the apostle Paul wrote that we are "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
On the day of Pentecost, when those who had crucified Christ realized their wickedness, they said, "... Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you " (Acts 2:37-38). Repentance occurs when a man determines in his heart to turn from his former ways to serve God. Since baptism is a command (Acts 10:48), true repentance will be followed by baptism. When in faith man obeys God in baptism, his former sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), and up from the watery grave of baptism man is raised to "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).
The apostle Paul describes the Christian life with these words: "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.
"Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things;
"but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
"Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Colossians 3:1-15).
The Christian life is a life of growth. Paul said, " our inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16), and that we are changed "from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18). After many years of faithful service to God, he said: "Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14).
The apostle Peter taught us to grow, saying: "Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue; whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in that world by lust.
"Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:2-11).
There are things which we must do in order to grow. We must study the Bible. Peter said: "as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation" (1 Peter 2:2). We must pray for such things as help, strength, boldness, deliverance, and wisdom. Paul admonishes, "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6).
We are to come together on the first day of the week to be encouraged and to encourage others as we worship. The Bible says, "...and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
And we are to put into practice the things which we learn, that "ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
The Christian life was summed up in the words of Paul, as he said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).
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