One of the most well-known verses in the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that who-so-ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” He did not die to make people better or happy, but he died, so those who believe in Him would become righteous and have fellowship God. Once we believe, we become new creatures in Christ, the old self is gone, and the new self or nature has come. The transition from living and thinking like the world, to living and thinking to the glory of God, takes a lifetime. It is not easy, but intentional living for God, through the Holy Spirit, allows us to bear eternal fruit.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15).
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
God makes it very clear in scripture that our ways of thinking, speaking, and living need to more like Christ. Christ died for us so that we could live in the world but not be of it. It is our privilege to intentionally no longer live for ourselves, but to focus on loving God and loving others. Those who would give up their lives for His sake will experience life to the full. Without a relationship with Jesus, life makes no sense.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25).
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
Our old life has a propensity to sin and continually calls us back to our old lifestyles and sin habits. Becoming a Christian does not mean that these commands from Jesus are easy. Death is always painful.
In Colossians, Paul writes that the sins that enslave us as non-believers, still haunt us in our new life.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2,3).
“Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:5-10).
Death to self is a tough call for all of us. It is also why we need to pray for one another. The good news is that God equipped us to fight the good fight with the Holy Spirit, prayer and the Word. This gives us the power to say no to temptation and live lives that are consistent. When we are not focused on our call to honor God, the old nature slips in and so does our old behavior. When we live lives that shift from the world to God and back again, not only is our fellowship with God interrupted, but it causes people around us to stumble. God calls us to be a light of hope to the world non-stop. God expects total obedience. His commands are not options for us to choose which one we will follow.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).