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Power for Holy Living

 

As believers, we understand that our salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). However, we sometimes forget that sanctification—the process of becoming more like Christ—is also a work of the Holy Spirit.

A.    The Problem

  1. Often, the harder we try to be righteous in our own strength, the more likely we are to develop sin in other areas of our lives. For instance, we may discipline ourselves to have a quiet time every morning but then develop a prideful heart about it. Or, we might avoid using curse words but feel free to gossip about the failings of others. At times, the pressure to live a holy life becomes so great that a believer may give up trying altogether.
    • Have you ever felt weary of trying to be a “faithful Christian” or sensed a need to be “good enough for God”? Why or why not?
  2. The first-century church in Galatia also struggled with the concept of growing in holiness by faith. Yet Paul assured those believers that it was precisely in this way that the same Spirit who filled them at salvation would help them become more like Christ. Read Galatians 3:1-7.
    • Why does trying to improve in our own strength yield limited results?

Note: Often, when Scripture uses the term “to perfect,” as in Galatians 3, it doesn’t mean “to make without flaw.” Instead, it means “to mature.” In this context, Paul meant that our own efforts won’t make us more like Christ.

B.    The Solution

  1. In Galatians 2, Paul explained his secret for living righteously. Read verse 20.
    • What does he say empowers him?

    Paul spoke of being “crucified with Christ.” This doesn’t mean that Paul was physically placed on the cross, or that God erased the apostle’s personality. Instead, it means that Paul’s will “died.” In other words, he submitted control of his life to the Father and let God’s plans take precedence over his own agenda.

    • Would you like to surrender any particular area of your life to the Lord’s will? If so, you may want to write a prayer here, committing your entire being to be used as He wishes.
  2. Let’s look at another passage that mentions dying with Christ. In Romans 6:3, Paul says that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death.”

In Paul’s day, the phrase “baptized into Christ” carried significant meaning. The term baptize literally meant “to immerse,” as in baptizing cloth in dye to change the color.

First-century literature used this term figuratively more than literally. This word indicated identification. For instance, if Gentiles wanted to join the Jewish faith, they would go through a series of rituals, including baptism—a custom whereby people would dip themselves under water. This represented washing away their former habits and old religion. It was the beginning of a new way of life. They would now assume Jewish customs, dress, and eating habits. For all practical purposes, they would be identified as Jews.

  • Based on the explanation above, what do you think Paul meant when he said we are “baptized into Christ”?
  • What are some the benefits of identification with Jesus (Romans 6:10-11; 2 Peter 1:2-3)?

Closing: Many believers don’t understand the vast riches available in our Lord and Savior: as children of God, we lack nothing. The Father’s immeasurable love and power are available to us for every challenge. Embrace the fullness of His mercy and live the abundant life He has planned.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the amazing grace that saved me. I am so grateful for the work of Your Holy Spirit in conforming me into the image of Christ. Today, I choose to surrender control of my life to You. Please empower me to live righteously. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Adapted from Into His Presence(2000) and Winning the War Within (1988).

(Copyright 2012 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org.)