You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires
But I will advocate that we do need these lists of dos and don’ts for the purpose of self examination and for lovingly teaching and discipling for life change. I reject the extreme of putting unnessary legalistic burdens on people and the other extreme of the watering down the word of God.
Unlike most of us who were, what I call, “radically saved,” we didn’t have to be taught certain things, we just knew as disciples and followers of Jesus, we were never going to do those things anymore. For example. I used to drink alcohol when I was an unbeliever. When I got saved, I stopped drinking and never had a drink since. Nobody had to tell me that I had to kick the habit. No one had to tell me that I couldn’t go clubbing anymore. No one had to tell me that I had to unfollow my favorite rock star. It just happened.
However, some believers have to be told, taught and discipled into developing a new lifestyle. So, when the council in Acts 15:28 instructed the new believing gentiles, saying, “for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, this was a list of do’s and don’t's.
When Paul brought out a list or two in Galatians 5 describing the deeds of the sinful nature and life in the Spirit, that was a list of do’s and don’t's. In fact he cuationed his readers, saying – “for you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.”
You see when the bible urges us to “put to death the misdeeds of the flesh,” it is not giving us a list of do’s and don’t's in a legalistic sense. It is not saying relationship deosn’t matter. It is teaching us the fact that if we claim to have a relationship with Jesus, our lifestyle and choices must match up with what we profess. And the way we do that is by abiding in Christ.
You cannot claim to have a relationship with Christ and yet ignore the misdeeds of the flesh.
John says, If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.”
The job of the church is not merely to promote relationship with Jesus, it is to disciple for life change. The job of the Church is to feed that relationship with Christ, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. This comes about through the scripture – for it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
Many churches and many believers have hung their hats on this “relationship thing.” Relationship is important, but without right behavior it is little more than hypocrisy. I would argue that claiming to have a relationship with God does not count most to Him, rather, how we allow that relationship to shape our behavior is what matters the most to God. Therefore, it is imparative to find out what it really means, and what a real relationship with Jesus really looks like.
In 1 John the word “know” is mentioned more that 40 times. When you read John’s epistle, he repeats the phrase, “by this we know” over and over. For example, 1 John 2:5, 6 says, “by this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
I have come to find out that most of the people who are really in a growing relationship with Jesus have no problem with hard to swallow teaching about sin and sinful behaviors. Sadly, it is those who are hiding something and struggling with sinful behaviors who always try to play the “relationship card.”
So, how about a list of dos and don’ts?
Cast off the works of darkness… col. 3:8; Eph. 5:11; John 3:20
Put on the armor of light…2 cor. 6:7; Eph. 6:11, 13; 1 Thess. 5:8
Walk properly as in the daytime… Lk 21:34; Gal. 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3; james 3:14, 16; 1 Thess. 4:12
Put on Jesus – Gal. 3:27; Job 29:14; Psalm132:9; Luke 24:49; Eph. 4:24; col. 3:10
Provide no oppotunities for the flesh to gratify its desire… Romans 13:14
Rom. 13:14 – …put on the Lord Jesus Christ…
Paul’s exhortations can be summed up in the call to put on … Christ. The metaphor of putting on clothing implies not just imitating Christ’s character but also living in close personal fellowship with him.
Even though we have new life, we still must constantly renounce the flesh and refuse to gratify its desires. This is accomplished by abiding in Christ, studying his word and living in community with other Christ followers.