“The Powerful Working Of God” (1 Corinthians 5: 7 – 8, ESV) by Carley Evans

Have you heard — Christians can not sin? Have you heard — if you sin, then you are not really saved?

Paul says to the Corinthian church, “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” He claims to be their “father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” As their father, he urges them to “be imitators of me.” (1 Corinthians 4: 14, 16) He commands the church to “cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.” Paul writes to the Colossians, “If then you are raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3: 1 – 4) He calls them to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” (Colossians 3: 5)

Paul urges them not to be chained again “by philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2: 8) He tells them and us that we “are filled in [Christ], who is the head of all rule and authority. In Him, [we] are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which [we] are also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And [we], who were dead in [our] trespasses and the uncircumcision of [our] flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2: 10 – 14) God sets aside our record of debt. He eliminates legal demands. He puts off our body of flesh, and makes us a “new lump” in Christ. He makes us “unleavened;” this feat is accomplished “in the powerful working of God.”

Our part is to daily “put off” the old leaven, the old earthly self. This also is accomplished through the “powerful working” of God, the Holy Spirit. Hence, Paul admonishes his beloved children, not to shame them but to prod them towards the prize, the goal of their salvation.

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