Read: Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew 1:21 She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus–‘God saves’–because he will save his people from their sins.”
The hope of new life begins with Jesus. He came to earth in human form, to die for our sins because on our own none of us can change ourselves or our lives. Our hope for lasting, growing spiritual growth begins when we accept ‘my life is a mess and I am out of control.” “I Believe that God exists, cares about me, can help me regain control of my life.” and is willing to do so if I “Commit to working with Him through faith.
- I admit that my life is a mess and I am out of control.
- I believe God exists, that he cares about me and He can help me to regain control of my life.
- I am making a decision to let God help me change and commit to working with Him to do so.
I insist–and God backs me up on this–that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything–and I do mean everything–connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life–a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
That means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ–the Message–have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives–words, actions, whatever–be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.