“You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24
Our new self, the primary visible fruit of the New Covenant in the human, is the life of Christ lived in us by the Holy Spirit. It is, as Paul writes above, a new self in the likeness of our God Himself. It is true righteousness and holiness, for it is the righteousness and holiness of our God Himself in us.
In Luke 1:72-75, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, speaks of the purpose of this new life and new self in us. “Thus, he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”
One of the purposes of the life, the righteousness and holiness of Christ lived in us before the world is the witness it will bring to the world around us. This was prophesied by Ezekiel in 36:22-23. “I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes.”
Gilbert Burnet wrote of this purpose way back in 1677. His words on the state of the human race ring true today as if they were only recently penned. “But in spite of this, when we consider the age in which we live, we must be moved to pour out a flood of grief and lamentation. For few believe or give serious thought to these great truths. It is as if there was some sort of conspiracy against God and Christianity. How is it that the vast majorities of the people unstrap and throw off the light and the easy yoke of Christ in order to become enslaved to many corrupt and hurtful lusts and passions? And then they are not satisfied with being as bad as they can be, but desire that the entire world views them that way as they boast in their evil deeds. They even bring more guilt upon themselves by becoming servants of the devil by learning how to corrupt everyone they can.
“This horrible condition must deeply affect all who truly love God and all who have a tender compassion for the souls of men. This will, without exception, move all godly people to constant secret mourning and wrestling with God in prayer to avert the heavy judgments that seem to hang over our heads, and that He may turn the hearts of the obstinate and disobedient to the wisdom of the just.
“Until God arises and blesses His gospel with more of this success, there is one thing that is second to none for convincing the world of the truth and excellence of our most holy faith. It is when those who profess and embrace walk in all the strictness of a most holy, innocent, and exemplary life. This requires that they avoid hypocrisy (including acting sad and gloomy to convey piety), as well as the frivolities of ungodliness, wickedness, and foolishness, and hold the middle ground of sincere behavior.
“This is the only argument that is lacking for convincing the world of the truth of real Christianity. Everyone is more powerfully affected by living examples that they can see than they are by lectures or reasoning, regardless of how strong or convincing they are. It is easier to recognize the truth in another’s life, and this leaves a deeper impression than persuasive arguments.” – from the preface to “The Life of God in the Soul of Man” by Henry Scougal.
We were saved that we would be holy before the world, even as our God Himself is holy. One of the outcomes from our holiness is that this is the most convincing argument for the gospel of the kingdom. The holiness of our God lived in us divides the true disciples from the lost, and at the same time draws those lost toward our God. This holiness is only possible in us by the life of Christ in us. Our part is to give ourselves over to His life and His holiness in total surrender and obedience.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
“And may He so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13
“For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. Therefore, whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7
Image via author, Shelf Lake, Boulder Chain Lakes, Idaho