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30th November 2014
There are three steps that any follower of Jesus should make in their life. One is a one-off step of obedience. The other two are ongoing things we do for our whole lives.
We see in 1 Peter 3:21-4:11 that the first thing that any disciple needs to do is be baptised in water. The image Peter has in his mind as he writes is being fully immersed, as we read in other parts of the New Testament too. Baptism in water is the first step of obedience for Jesus' disciples. It's the first thing He calls us to do.
There's nothing magical about the baptism water. It's just come out of a tap! But it is an outward sign of the inner transaction that has taken place: where our old, stony heart has been exchanged for a heart of flesh because we have accepted Christ's substitution for our sins and we have hidden ourselves in Christ.
The second step is that, now we have a new identity in Christ, there are things we are to 'take off'. There are things that no longer fit with my new identity; I now live for the will of God. My old life has died. I have been buried with Christ and raised to a new life, to live for God. As Peter writes in this passage, we used to live in this way, but it was an empty way of life. Now we take this stuff off, not as a way of making ourselves acceptable to God, but because we are living in line with our new identity.
So how are we to live? As well as taking things off, there are things to 'put on', too. Peter writes that we are to "be self-controlled and sober-minded", living for the glory of God. He associates the effectiveness of our prayers with righteous living and calls us to great love that overlooks small offences – and sometimes big ones too!
How are you doing at 'taking off' stuff that doesn't line up with your identity? How good are you at clothing yourself with the things followers of Jesus are to 'put on'? It flows out of our identity as a child of God!
To download the 'New life' sermon and life application questions, click here.
Posted by Paul Mann