And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (NLT)
Are you looking forward to the things that Peter mentioned? Are you looking forward to that new heaven and new earth? We should be. One of the reasons is that not only will the new heaven and earth be the home of righteousness, but it will also mean that we will see Jesus. Paul tells us that we already are citizens of heaven. Our passport back to our home has been issued by the Holy Spirit so it can never be revoked and we should be eagerly waiting for Jesus to come and take us home. When that new universe is created, we will have to be transformed so that we can live there and Jesus has the power to do that. Phil 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (NIV)
One thing about that transformed body is that it will never be able to sin. We won’t even have to think about resisting temptation or knowing what God’s will is. All that is in this current body that causes us to sin will be removed. I don’t know about you, but that will be worth the wait. However, we are not there yet. Peter tells us that we need to work at living peaceful, pure and blameless lives right now. We need to make every effort to do that, not just try to do it or work at it sometimes.
One of the key words is effort. It seems a contradiction that we are called to put effort into living holy lives when it is by faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice that we have been saved. Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (NIV) Paul was trying to show that effort in obedience to the Levitical law, including circumcision, was not going to produce a holy life. The effort that we need to exert is in following the Holy Spirit. Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV)
Paul also describes this effort of living by the Spirit as putting off the old self and putting on the new self. Eph 4:22-24 … that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (NASB) See also Col 3:8-10. The effort that we have to go through is to put aside the sinful habits that we once had when we were not Christians or the habits that we have learned from the world that lead us into sin. The only way to do this is to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and the way He does that is through the Word of God and by prayer. 2 Cor 5:17 says that we are a new creation when we become Christians. We need to utilize that new creation instead of the old self when we respond as Christ would want.
Renewing our minds takes a couple of things. We need to first of all understand what is right and wrong. That’s where the Holy Spirit convicts of right and wrong by the Word of God. We read and understand that certain things are wrong. For example, we read Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (NIV) and Eph 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV) We can see the kinds of behavior that are to be eliminated from our lives and the behavior that is to replace it.
Then we also need to renew our minds by understanding the power that God gives us to live holy lives. We can’t do any putting off and putting on when we rely only on ourselves. God want us to utilize His power. Eph 1:18-21 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (NIV) Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know this power. Note that he said that this power is for us who believe. The very same power that raised Jesus from the grave and gave Him rule and authority is available to us. Why would we want to rely on our own power to resist evil and live holy lives when we can rely on God’s power?
We may have been able to clean up our lives in many areas but we often have a habitual sin that we just can’t overcome. We may do well for a while but then fail. We trust Jesus to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and cleanse us from unrighteousness but then the temptation comes again. In these situations, you may ask how do I rely on His power instead of mine? That’s where prayer comes in. We have to admit to God that we don’t have the power in ourselves to resist sin. We’ve been the ones fighting the temptation and not God.
Heb 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (NIV) What we want is for Jesus to help us and He doesn’t until we ask. The next time that temptation comes, pray. Tell God that you can’t do it on your own but you need that same resurrection power to overcome the evil. He will then come to your aid and remove the desire to sin.
You say it still didn’t work? Did I mention that you must want to overcome the temptation? If you really want to enjoy that sin then you need to take a step back and ask Him for the power to hate the sin as much as He hates it.
Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan. Each time He was tempted, He used a scripture to tell Satan why He wouldn’t do what Satan wanted. If we don’t know God’s Word good enough to have a scriptural reason for resisting then we are in trouble.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (RSV) Submitting yourself to God is putting yourself in His hands and trusting His power to overcome the temptation. Resisting the temptation or Satan with Scripture is quoting an appropriate verse when tempted. The temptation may be your own sinful desire or it may come from the devil. It doesn’t matter which, because God’s Word is more powerful than both.
There is no excuse for failing to overcome habitual sins and making progressing in living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless. He has given us the power and the means of appropriating that power. Start living a peaceful, pure and blameless life today.