God has provided the way for believers to accurately and faithfully represent him in this world.
Luke 1:74-75 – We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.
Ephesians 4:24 – Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy.
There is a word here in the original text that only appears in these two verses, and it has to do with holiness or piety. The word has to do with that which is sanctioned or approved by God. It is the application of what God approves of, that is, a living faith that is exhibiting the characteristics that God desires of his people.
The passage in Ephesians is actually the fulfillment of the earlier passage in Luke. In his gospel narrative, Luke is relating how Zechariah, under the influence of the holy Spirit, is prophesying how his child John’s ministry would result in God’s people being enabled to live in the way that God truly desires. Of course, throughout the gospel message, we learn how the baptizing ministry of John paved the way for Messiah, and the Messiah brought new life through faith in himself. This chain of events inevitably led to the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth.
All of this history and consequence brought the reality of a living faith to God’s people. No longer would they be constrained only by the ceremonial actions of a representative priest; they would now be able to live as new creatures in a new Creation within the context of a New Jerusalem. The holiness and righteousness that would stem from faith in Messiah would be the working out of God’s kingdom on the earth throughout history, until it filled the earth with the wisdom of God and his glory.
As long as we live, prophesied Zechariah, we would have the ability to serve God without fear. Why is this? Because, according to the apostle John, fear has to do with punishment.
1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.
If, as Paul directs the Ephesian believers, we “put on” the new nature by ” let[ting] the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23), we can now faithfully walk in the righteous way that God expects, and we can do so without fear of punishment because we will be doing the things God expects of us. This means we will be walking in love, and in holiness, being set apart from the lives of others by our faithful carrying out of the will of God in this world.
Such an amazing and practical love that is derived from one little Greek phrase! We see in these passages that it has always been God’s desire to have his people walk in the way that he desires, and he would enable them to do so! This is the heritage we, as believers today, can fulfill when we also renew our minds with the spirit of God according to his Word.
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