TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

II. Staying Right with God

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Chapter 21  Part II

Staying Right with God

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Having been made right with God, it is critical that we live in accordance with this standing, so as to stay right with God. The following topics deal with some key aspects involved in this, namely: obedience; good deeds; living by the Holy Spirit; and living “in” Jesus Christ.

The Need to Obey God

We need to obey God as well as believe

And by the command of the eternal God it [the gospel] is made known to all nations that they might believe and obey.   Romans 16:26b  NCV™

Obedience is critical for holiness and eternal life

[Paul, speaking to believers of being slaves in obedience to God:] Now you have been freed from sin and have become God’s slaves. This results in a holy life and, finally, in everlasting life.   Romans 6:22  GW

After he [Christ] had finished his work, he became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who obeys him.   Hebrews 5:9  GW

The Need for Good Deeds

True faith involves good deeds

Just as a person’s body that does not have a spirit is dead, so faith that does nothing is dead!   James 2:26 NCV™

Good deeds accompany salvation

[The writer, to believers:] Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case, things that point to salvation. 10For God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have ministered to the saints and continue to minister to them.   Hebrews 6:9-10  ISV

He [God] will reward each one according to his works: 7eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, …   Romans 2:6-7  NET

But our deeds do not earn salvation, for it is by grace

[Paul, to believers:] For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9it is not from works, so that no one can boast.   Ephesians 2:8-9  NET

Good deeds are an effect rather than a cause of salvation.

Living Free of the Law and Sin – by the Spirit

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We have been freed from the law to live by the Holy Spirit

[Paul, to believers:]  In the past, the law held us like prisoners, but our old selves died, and we were made free from the law. So now we serve God in a new way with the Spirit, and not in the old way with written rules.   Romans 7:6  NCV™

Through what Christ accomplished, God’s people have been freed from the Mosaic Law as the means of being right with him. We are instead to live by his Spirit. Living by the Holy Spirit involves: being alert and responsive to the Spirit’s guidance; and relying on the Spirit’s power, to help and change us. Along with this, our minds should be focused on things of the Spirit (cf. Romans 8:5 below).

Instead of living by the sinful nature, live by the Holy Spirit

[Paul, to believers:] He [God] condemned sin in the flesh 4so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.   Romans 8:3b-5  ISV

Here the term “flesh” denotes our sinful nature.

Inner righteousness is needed, not just compliance with rules

[Jesus:] “You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. … 27“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.   Matthew 5:21-22a, 27-28  NET

Epilogue: Living ‘in’ Jesus Christ

Paul often speaks of believers being or acting “in” Christ. This refers to their close relationship and association with Jesus Christ, in which they are even identified with him. (See also the introductory comment under Being ‘in’ Jesus Christ).

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Live “in” Jesus Christ by faith

[Paul, to the Colossian believers:] For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ. 6Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.   Colossians 2:5-7  NET

Paul appears to associate having a firm faith in Christ (vv. 5, 7) with living in Christ (v. 6) and being “rooted and built up in him” (v. 7).

Live “in” Jesus Christ by holding to his teachings

[Jesus, to his disciples:] If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. … 10If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.   John 15:7, 10  NET

One remains in Jesus Christ (v. 7) and similarly in his love (v. 10), by holding to his words (v. 7) and so his commands (v. 10).

Pray for persecuted Christians