Years ago, I had a guy at work ask me this question:
"If Jesus died on the cross to forgive all people of their sins, then what does it matter how I live my life. I mean, I'm already forgiven...right?"
That way of thinking had never occured to me before. I guess I'd always thought about the "new man" who springs forth from baptism to live for his Savior. Part of the transformation into Christ is repentance; a willingness to turn away from sinful ways to the ways of God.
But now I wonder how many people may think like my friend of long ago. They aren't familiar with scripture, nor the transformation process necessary to find that gift of grace through Christ. Back then, I had a golden opportunity to do some teaching, but I unfortunately didn't follow through. This is to my shame as a Christian!
So, in an effort to help any others who might wonder the same thing, I'd like to address the issue here and now. If we look to scripture, we can find many passages which speak of the importance of changing our lives in order to follow Jesus.
In (John 12:25-26), we find these words:
"The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be."
(Luke 9:23) says:
"...If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
(Matthew 10:38) reads:
"and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
While it is true that Christ died for our sins, we must be proactive in living life anew. We need to be willing to follow Jesus' commands and the Christian way of life in order to receive the benefits of forgiveness. Evidence of this can be seen from these verses above.
But we have to make the decision to follow Christ from a truely penitent heart, not from a begrudging heart. When we desire to follow Christ, the "old self," along with all of it's sinfulness is put off, and the "new being" in Christ is born. Therefore, it is imperative that a complete change in the way we live must take place.
This command is also found throughout scripture. However, the words of (Ephesians 4: 22-24) can stand alone as our example of the true heart of the Christian man and woman. Here we read:
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Yes, Christ took care of our sin problem as far as God is concerned. However, we do our part by accepting a new, more righteous frame of mind and way of life. Salvation is offered to all people, but we must choose to take advantage of it by living a life in Christ Jesus. We live no longer for the desires of this world, but for the teachings and glory of God through Jesus Christ!
This is a very good post and brings up many good points as well. It is so very true that the man who loves his life will lose it. I think of people who are full of life and die young. People who are always complaining and saying they want to die....seem to live quite a long time. In a sense that is kind of screwed on the end of GOD if you think about it. I love life, my family and my daughter so I fall over one day while loving life and following God. The man who wants to die either kills himself at some point or lives for a very long time. I supppose that is where the term the wicked live forever come from. God has some interesting points of view. Sudden infant death syndrom VS. man compaining he wants to die and hates his life....never going to figure that one out I suppose.
Your friend brings up a good point and your answer is dead on about living our life and repenting. One thing crossed my mind as I read. If in the end, we are not saved from all the sin as your friend thought...and need to change and not live life without regard....Jesus could have surely saved himself the time and pain...in the end I can see his point of what did it matter (not in the context he said it in) but in the context of....he suffered and died so we would have no sin....yet we have this code to adhere to and try to live by or hell awaits? He would have still started his Church, preachers would have still preached..nothing would have changed, except we have stories he went up to heaven making him an above average prophet and the son of God. I never thought of it that way. Loved the post.