Enjoy Your New Life
Enjoy Your New Life
Bishop Taylor Smith, former Chaplain General to the Forces, once had a conversation with a young man that went like this:
Bishop: ‘When you think about the cross of Christ, what do you see?’
Young man: ‘I see Christ and two thieves crucified either side of him…’
Bishop: ‘What else do you see?’
Young man: ‘I see the soldiers gambling…’
Bishop: ‘If that is all you see, I think you will have trouble with the Christian life. When I see the cross – with all that – I see old Bishop Taylor Smith. I was crucified with Christ.’
In the New Testament passage for today, the apostle Paul expounds and explains what it means to have been ‘crucified with Christ’. We are ‘in Christ Jesus’. ‘We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life’ (Romans 6:4). ‘We entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!’ (Romans 6:3, MSG).
Soon after encountering Jesus I wrote, ‘I died in February 1974. My old life was buried. From then onwards I have walked in newness of life. It really does seem like that. Life before was so absolutely and completely different.’
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are able to live and enjoy ‘a new life.’ In the passages for today, we see how this was anticipated in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.
New songPsalm 87:1-7
This is a psalm of praise. It is hard to understand and has been described as one of the most problematic in the whole Psalter. It is written in the language of poetry.
The psalmist concludes by anticipating the future: ‘As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”’ (v.7). This picture of overflowing water is an image of abundant life. It was often used in the Old Testament to represent the presence of God in the temple (for instance in Ezekiel 47).
However, Jesus says that all this was fulfilled not in a place but in a person (John 7:37 onwards). Out of his innermost being flowed rivers of living water. We can now sing a new song of worship to the Lord, saying of him, ‘All my fountains are in you.’
Lord, may your streams of living water flow into me and out of me today.
New freedomRomans 6:1-14
The insane but influential Russian monk, Rasputin, taught his followers that after their conversion they should go and sin more, so that in being forgiven, they would feel more of God’s love. He failed to understand that grace is not an excuse to sin. Rather it is a reason not to sin.
Paul deals with this very issue, asking whether, if grace meets our every sin, and as sin increases grace abounds all the more, should we ‘keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving?’ (v.1, MSG).
He answers, ‘I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?’ (v.2, MSG).
Now we are free, we have a radically changed attitude to sin. How can we, who have been so radically changed – the difference between life and death – still live in sin? Once we were slaves to sin, in that we had to obey its commands, but now we are free.
In this passage, we see all three tenses of salvation:
You HAVE BEEN saved from the PENALTY of sin
Paul writes in the past tense that ‘our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin’ (vv.6–7).
Through the death of Jesus on the cross for us the past is totally forgiven. Your guilt has been removed. The penalty for all your sin – past, present and future – has been paid. You have been freed.
You WILL BE saved from the PRESENCE of sin
Paul writes, ‘If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection’ (v.5).
Your salvation is not yet complete. There is a future tense to salvation. One day you will be united with him in his resurrection and you will for ever be freed from the presence of sin and will enjoy the uninterrupted presence of God forever.
You ARE BEING saved from the POWER of sin
Paul writes, ‘From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time – remember, you’ve been raised from the dead! – into God’s way of doing things.’ (vv.11–14, MSG).
Jesus has set you free, not only from the guilt of sin but also from its addictive power. You do not need to sin anymore – ‘sin shall not be your master’ (v.14). You are to count yourself dead to sin and alive to God. You do not need to obey sin’s evil desires. This is the present tense of salvation. You are being set free from the power of sin as you offer the parts of your body to Jesus as instruments of righteousness.
Lord, thank you that you have set me free to enjoy a new life. I offer you my body today and pray that you will use me as an instrument of righteousness.
New loveHosea 1:1-2:23
God loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually. No matter what you have done, you can have a new beginning, a fresh start, a new life and a new love.
‘Hosea is the prophet of love,’ writes Eugene Peterson. ‘But not love as we imagine or fantasise it. He was a parable of God’s love for his people lived out as God revealed and enacted it – a lived parable. It is an astonishing story: a prophet commanded to marry a common whore and have children with her. It is an even more astonishing message: God loves us in just this way – goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love.’
Hosea was prophesying shortly after the time of Amos (c.750–722 BC). His marriage to Gomer was a kind of analogy for Israel’s relationship with God. God spoke to Hosea and said:
‘Find a whore and marry her.
Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here’s why: This whole country
has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God’ (1:2, MSG).
Israel’s mistake was to chase after things (food, wine, fashion, jewellery and perfume) rather than God (2:5,8, MSG). They failed to see it was God who provided these things. All he asks is that you should seek him first.
God’s answer is to frustrate us when we chase after things rather than him, by not allowing us to obtain the things on which we have set our hearts. He says:
‘She’ll go on the hunt for her lovers
but not bring down a single one.
She’ll look high and low
but won’t find a one’ (v.7a, MSG).
God longs for you to be living in a relationship with him as close as a husband and a wife. He says, ‘I am now going to allure her’ (v.14a). He takes her into a desert (this is so often the place where God’s voice is heard) and speaks tenderly (v.14). ‘“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’… I will betroth you to me forever”’ (vv.16,19).
This foreshadows the relationship of Jesus to his church. God promises a new love relationship between him and his people (vv.19–20). They will know (acknowledge) the Lord.
It will be a relationship of love and compassion. He says, ‘I will show my love to the one I called “Not my loved one.” I will say to those called “Not my people”, “You are my people”; and they will say, “You are my God”’ (v.23).
Lord, thank you that through the death and resurrection of Jesus it is possible for me to know you. Thank you that I can walk each day in a relationship of love with you. Thank you that you show your love for us and call us your people. Thank you that I can say to you, ‘You are my God’.
‘Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body… but rather offer yourselves to God.’
When Focus (our annual church holiday) begins in a few days, there will be many great opportunities to reassess our lives and to re-consecrate our lives to God. It’s time to get rid of some of the junk that may have crept in or been lurking underneath for some time. And it’s an opportunity to listen to God and discover your calling for the year ahead.
Verse of the Day
‘… offer yourselves to God…’ (Romans 6:13).
Eugene Peterson, The Message, 'Introduction to Hosea', (NavPress, 1993) p.1221.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.