How long are ye slack?
Crucifixion of Former Self. The gospel of Christ requires radical changes. "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13). We're not talking about Band- Aids here. Words such as put to death, mortify (KJV), crucify, are intentionally shocking and refer to drastic measures. Paul had earlier said that at baptism, our "old man" (former self) was crucified with Him (6:6). What is raised from the watery grave of baptism is the new man who "should walk in newness of life" (v. 4). Further:
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:5-11).
These and similar texts do not teach that the moment one is baptized into Christ that all bad habits, thought patterns, speech and deeds are instantly and forever changed into conformity to God's will. But the heart must be changed. With God's help, every thought must be brought into captivity unto Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). In every way we must be transformed (Romans 12:2), and conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). This is an ongoing process. This is what it means to "learn Christ" (Ephesians 4:20):
...if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:21-24).
How long are ye slack?
Pressing Toward the Goal of our Upward Call. Notice the "balance" in these texts mentioned above. Under consideration is not merely the eradication of that which is sinful, but being filled with Christ; with "… whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report…" (Philippians 4:8). Paul said of himself:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
There can be no doubt that Paul made a "good start" when he was converted; this was certainly true of the Philippians as well. But the question is, what now? God's people must be defined by "reaching forward" and "pressing toward the goal."
Conclusion. Israel's self-satisfaction with the initial conquest, and delay in follow-through did not make their task easier; it made it more difficult. If you are a Christian, postponement and suspension of God's plan for "disciples indeed" (John 8:31) will not make progress and development easier. Truly, there's danger and death in delay. How much irreplaceable time has been lost already? How long are ye slack?
By Leon Mauldin
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