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- The Need to Obey God
- The Need for Good Deeds
- Living Free of the Law and Sin – by the Spirit
- Epilogue: Living ‘in’ Jesus Christ
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.
[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
[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
Good deeds are an effect rather than a cause of salvation.
[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).
[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.
[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
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).
[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).
[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).