by Barry Newton
Destructive extremes have always been easier to achieve. Living as a Christian is no exception. The twin ditches of fear and failure all too readily seek to pull God’s people from the road of healthy Christian living. On the one side of the path awaits either the crushing weight of fearful doubt or unjustified arrogance whenever God’s people erroneously perceive themselves as contributing to their salvation by their ability to exemplify sacrificial love, evangelistic fervor, and holy living.
Perhaps more common today is the equally destructive ditch of comfortable failure. With a bully grace firmly in hand, every attempt of the Master’s voice to call us to purify ourselves, to perfect holiness out of reverence for God, and to carry forth his message becomes muted. Any aroma of Christ the Christian might have otherwise carried forth is squelched.
While the truth is that salvation is not by works, equally true is the necessity of those who follow Christ to die to their will in order to live for him who died for them. Thus righteous living is not an attempt to attain salvation, but to live out God’s purposes for the saved. Our schedule, our plans, our hobbies, our friendships, our time, our finances, our goals must all meet Christ in the crucible of discipleship so that everywhere we go, the transformed life he makes possible will be his tool for his purposes. He saves us to serve. Disciples are to live out their salvation with reverence for their God who redeemed them. As for salt, cars, or servants failing to perform the intended function for which they were purchased, when discarded in the trash heap they lose what they had once fully possessed.
“If a man cleanses himself … he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
“… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12,13).
“if the salt loses its saltiness, … It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matthew 5:13).
by Barry Newton