Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Four: Being A Warrior.
Our reading for today: Colossians 1: 13-14, 21-22 (MsgB)
God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son He loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating…You yourselves are a case study of what He does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of Him, giving Him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving Himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in His presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted.
As we discussed last time, the Breastplate of Righteousness is not a piece of armor that you and I can go out and buy for ourselves.
Far from it.
Our Rescuing Creator/King is the One who did all the work here. And as Paul’s letter to the Colossian church indicates, God’s plan to bring His lost creation back into righteousness, (or “standing right before God”) was birthed in the mind of the Divine, long before the earth was ever created. Long before Adam and Eve drew their first breaths, God had a master plan that would keep His fragile children from being lost in their selfishness and sinful condition.
Long before you or I ever had any awareness of our sin-sick souls. Long before any of us were ever thinking about cleaning up our act. Long before I called out for help…the One who has loved me from the very beginning had already devised a plan of redemption that can yank me out of dead-end alleys and dark dungeons! Hallelujah!
The Cross, you see, is so much more than a nice piece of jewelry. It’s a crow-bar. Opening doors that we just can’t open in our own strength. It’s a can-opener. Opening up an array of food and nourishment our souls are starving for. It’s a key. Unlocking jail cells made from iron bars forged through the work of our own sinful hands. Jesus of Nazareth has purchased, through His obedience on the Cross, our Breastplate of Righteousness; and as Paul states clearly here…only a fool would walk away from a gift like that!
But sadly, every day…in every corner of the world, people ignore this amazing free gift of righteousness, and go out on our own, to try to be good enough so that God will hopefully see our goodness and let us back into His good graces.
Good-God…this “trying to be good enough” nonsense must stop!
Just recently, I was baptizing a young man who has recently started coming to our church. What a wonderful day. This young man has led a pretty tough life, making countless mistakes and making poor choices about as often as a person can. Like Paul states of the folks in Colossae, this young man had his back turned to God, was thinking rebellious thoughts of Him, giving Him trouble every chance he got!
But then, something changed! This young man saw the Light and was now running toward it!
But as I stood outside the pool after his baptism, talking with this young man about what was happening in his life, all he could talk about was how he needed to go out now and live a cleaner life, doing better for God than he’s ever done before.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Choosing to live a life of holiness is a good thing, and all of us need to be aware of our behaviors. But my friends, unless this young man (and myself as well) fully understand that our “right-standing” with God will never be achieved by our good works, we are all doomed to living a life of sin-management, and in fact, never really being free to pursue who we truly are in Christ.
So that day beside the baptism pool, I talked to that young man about slipping on the Breastplate of Righteousness each morning, long before he ever went out trying to be good for Jesus. I hope he heard what I was saying.
I hope and pray that all of us will hear that good news Message. Like Paul says, you just don’t walk away from a gift like that!
My prayer: Jesus, once again, I must be reminded that it isn’t my good works that make me into a righteous man. It’s Your work on the cross that purchased God’s righteousness for me. Thus, today, I choose to take that free gift of “right-standing before God” and slip it over my chest. With it, I’m free. Without it, I’m lost in a sea of sin-management. I choose the former. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Like that young man who was being baptized, am I believing that I must go out and do better than before in order to continue earning God’s redemptive love? If so, how can I turn my thinking around, so that today, I choose rightly by first slipping on the Breastplate of Righteousness which has been given freely to me by Christ?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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