August 20 I Thursday
1 Corinthians 3
“…since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
Most of us are familiar with the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” That may be true, but if that is our philosophy regarding the Christian life, we will end up settling for routine with very little expectation of change. But what if we were to change the dog?
When we read through the New Testament, we find it is full of expectancy of growth and change. As Paul states in the opening verse, the goal of the Christian life is that we are being renewed in the image of our Creator. The problem is that although Christ has come to live within us, we still retain our sinful natures. If we try to live the new life by the old dog, that is by human effort, we will not be able to change, because these are two competing forces at work in our lives. We have the natural, earthly nature, but we also have been raised with Christ and indwelt by His Spirit. Paul tells us, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17).
We cannot evangelize the old nature, live the Christian life by the old nature or even try to sanctify the old nature, which is to be used for the purpose in which we were created. This is the civil war taking place within every Christian, and here is the dilemma: Earthly things are visible and natural, but heavenly things are invisible and supernatural. Yet, the default position we constantly revert to is the natural. We want to live by what is normal, but in reducing the Christian life to what is normal, we will simply be living by what we can do for Jesus, rather than what He alone will do in us, through us and for us.
Paul says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (Colossians 2:9-10). This is what the gospel is about, living in the fullness of Christ. Paul teaches, “…just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught…” (Colossians 2:6-7). This is a process that requires discipline of the mind, the will and the heart, not in trying our best to bring godliness into our lives, but to allow Jesus Christ to express His fullness of life in and through us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, discipline my mind, will and heart, where my desires are in line with Yours. Fill me with Your fullness and make me a reflection of You. Thank You, Lord.