Monday, February 27, 2012

why do christians need the ethical instructions of the bible?

the bible makes it clear that God is the one who causes us to be good and do good things that honor him when we become christians.  we are reborn when we become christians (john 3), the old self passes away and God makes us a new creation (2 corinthians 5:17). the Holy Spirit works in us to produce godly character (galatians 5:6-7), it is not something that we can work hard and strive to produce in ourselves.

as a result of learning these truths, sometimes i wonder why God has to give christians so many instructions through the bible. if christianity is not morality, but rather life changed by God, what role does the pages and pages of ethical and moral instruction play in the christian's life?

i read something today from nancy wilson's blog that was very illuminative on this topic:
"When Paul gives ethical instructions (stop lying, etc.) he is speaking to the regenerate. The unregenerate cannot obey ethical instructions. If they do, it is like water on a hog, and soon the hog will return to the mud. When the regenerate hear ethical commands, it is food to the sheep. They respond and are nourished by the instruction."
[regenerate= those who have been given new life by God, with new desires to love, honor and please him]

"the hog will return to the mud".  that sounds like the teaching of jesus that i wrote about a couple days ago.

but the reason that this impacted me was because of what this says about christians. the instructions of the bible are like food to true christians.  we enjoy learning more about how to love, honor and please God.  it is our spiritual nourishment.

Bucatini all'Amatriciana
photo credit: bucatini all'amatriciana by zen zero on flickr

so next sunday, as your pastor goes up to preach the sermon, picture him as the chef and you as the glad recipient of the delicious and nourishing meal that he has prepared.

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