Monday, September 6, 2010

Don't be a Beverly Hillbilly

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Ephesians 4:17 (NIV)

The 1960s good-natured American sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies follows the rags-to-riches journey of the Clampetts. After striking "black gold" on their swamp land, the poor backwoods family is transplanted to the swanky, wealthy city of Beverly Hills where they can now live in relative ease and take advantage of all that their newfound riches have to offer. The family is challenged, however, to let go of their old way of doing things. Constantly looking back, they go so far as to move their meager mountain cabin into the backyard of their lavish mansion home.

The Essential Bible Companion describes the apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians as "quintessential Paul," a concise summary of the essence of the apostle's faith and theology. In the first three chapters, Paul speaks about God's divine purpose in Christ and the believers' position in Christ. In the last three chapters, he is quite specific in his "dos" and "don'ts" of how believers ought to live practically as a result of this position. He writes, " must no longer live as Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking."

Salvation is God's free gift, but it carries with it the responsibility to live and behave from that point on as God wants (Ephesians 1:1, 17). This means deliberately discarding the old, selfish way of life, shedding former habits, and letting the new life change our thinking and remold our pattern of behavior.

All too often, I find that this new life and new way of thinking and behaving eludes me. As I begin each morning on my knees dedicating the day and my life to the Triune God, it seems that with an "amen" barely out of my mouth and not yet standing on my feet, I'm already returning to my selfish, fretful, whining, and unkind ways. Ah, how true--the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn't leave me hopeless. I can't by my own reason or strength live as Jesus calls me to live. Through the Holy Spirit, God called me with a holy calling, not according to my works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Timothy 1:9). At the same time, the Holy Spirit by faith sanctifies me--that is, He renews my heart so that I can overcome sin and do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

By His work on the cross, Jesus completed everything for my salvation and sanctification so that I can enjoy a new life. No wonder Paul said with such confidence that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Who is sweeter than Christ Jesus?
No good thing in Him I lack!
Hand to plow, at peace I follow
Where He leads me...why look back? -Starke

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

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