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Faithful Words

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By Dr. Kenneth Faught

FAITHFUL WORDS

 

Back from the dead

 

“. . . be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness . . .” (See Ephesians 4:17-32).

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Raymond Moody are just two of the people who have done research into the phenomenon of death and recovery. They have documented hundreds of cases of people who were pronounced clinically dead – only to recover and go on living! Many report a pleasant experience, seeing a light, hearing music, and even a reluctance to come back.  In the writings of the Apostle Paul, the person without Christ is frequently described as being “dead” in sins and trespasses. For Paul, the Christian is one who has “come back from the dead” and who is called to “new life in Christ”.

In Ephesians 4 Paul considers the condition of the spiritual corpse (17-19). The general condition is one of “vanity” (pride, illusion). The intellectual condition is one of having the “understanding darkened” (lacking discernment). The spiritual condition is described as “alienated from the life of God”. The emotional condition is one of “blindness of heart” (hard-heartedness). Overall, Paul says the non-Christian is “lost and past feeling” (beyond pain). He then describes the conduct of this corpse. (His “living corpse” is akin to a “spiritual zombie”!) He mentions “lasciviousness” (pleasure seeking), “uncleanness” (impurity), and “greediness” (unbridled desire). Today we live in a world of pleasure seekers, sensualists, and materialists. Many times when we think someone is “really living” we are actually looking at a corpse! At least that much has not changed since Paul’s day.

Saint Paul addresses the change of life and lifestyle which are made possible by the gospel. Being “quickened” (resurrected) in Christ leads to a new condition. Christians are called to “put off the old man”, to abandon their “former conversation”, and to have their “mind renewed”.  The disciple of Jesus is called to new conduct as well. There is to be a new way of talking – no more lying, no corrupt (misleading) communication, and no evil speaking (slander). There is to be a new way of walking – no anger, no stealing, and no bitterness or malice. There is, on the positive side, a new rule for living, which is characterized by kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.

Paul sets before us two ways: the way of death and the way of life. Christ calls us back from the dead – to a new condition, a new conduct, and a new life.

(Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.)