by Steven Chan
Being a Christian involves more than just receiving forgiveness of our sins because of the sacrificial blood of Christ that was shed for our atonement. There is a significant change in our relationship with God and with one another. The Bible declares in I Pet 1:22-23:
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently: having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth”
The afore-stated passage teaches the following:-
We receive purification of our souls when we obey the truth.
The writer referred to the recipients as those who have received purification of their souls because they had obeyed the truth. But some claimed that they received purification when they first believed the truth about Jesus being the Son of God. Yet the Bible affirms that those who obeyed the truth had received purification of their souls.
In Romans 6:17-18, the Bible said: “But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; and being made free from sin …”
What was that “form of teaching” that they were obedient to?
The Bible reveals the answer in Rom 6:3-4: “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.”
Newness of life comes to us when we obey the truth by being baptized into Christ, thus receiving the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16) and the purification of our souls.
We are purified unto unfeigned love of the brethren.
“Unfeigned” means “non-hypocritical” or not “acting”. The Christian is purified so that we can have sincere non-hypocritical love for one another. Jesus taught His disciples in John 13:34-35:
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Loving one another as brethren is not an option when we become Christians. We are commanded to love one another. So, the question for us is this: “Am I loving my brother or sister in Christ?”
The Bible clarifies how loving one another is manifested in I John 3:16-18: “Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath the world’s goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him? My Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth.”
The question becomes thus: “Have I really demonstrated my love for my brethren by helping him in his hour of needs?”
We are to love one another fervently from the heart.
It is not sufficient to love our brethren in a sincere manner. That love should be characterised by “fervency”. It means a very strong intensity of love and concern. Such a love must be shown to all Christians and not just to those we like or we can connect with easily.
In Heb 13:1-2, the Bible says: “Continue loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Always remember to help people by welcoming them into your home. Some people have done that and have helped angels without knowing it.” (ERV)
Have we been showing hospitality towards one another, especially towards brethren who are visiting us from afar?
We are born again through the living Word of God.
God’s Word is the seed (Luke 8:11). When God’s Word is implanted in our hearts and we permit it to grow through our acceptance and practice of the truth, it will sanctify us and set us apart for God’s service (John 8:32; 17:17; James 1:18) because we are guided by it (2 Tim 3:15-17; Psa 119:105). God’s Word, the gospel, is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16).
The Word of God is living and powerful; it is not mere words (Heb 4:12). It is the spiritual bread that feeds our spiritual life (Matt 4:4), sustains us and enables us to grow (I Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18).
The Word of God abides. It will last; it will not pass away. So we can rely upon it at all times – which is why the apostle Paul wrote to the elders of the church at Ephesus and said: “I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified.”
We cannot separate God from His Word. Jesus said to His disciples: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”(John 15:7). If we wish to abide in God or in Jesus, we must abide in His word (2 John 9-11).
Many have attempted to separate God from His Word. They want us to love God and Jesus but at the same time, they tell us that it is not as important to walk consistently and in accordance with His Word – ostensibly because His Word confuses men and causes division among believers. They forgot that our God is not the author of confusion but of peace (I Cor 14:33). We cannot claim to walk with God and at the same time reject His Word which condemns those who practice homosexuality (I Cor 6:9-11; Rom 1:26-27; I Tim 1:10 ) and other deeds of the flesh (Gal 5:19-20).
Christians need to live in such a way that God is glorified. People will glorify God when they see our good works (Matt 5:16). We glorify God when we bear much fruit (John 15:8).
People will know that we are disciples of Christ when they see our love for one another (John 13:34-35).
Are we glorifying God? Do people know that we are His disciples because they see our love for our brethren? Do we lack opportunity to show our love for one another? In Gal 6:10, the Bible exhorts us: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.”