The Foundation

The Foundation

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When Christ came to earth He explained that this different way of thinking would—through the power of the Holy Spirit—produce the fruit of righteous actions and deeds. He taught that God’s way is the way of giving rather than the normal, selfish human way of getting (Luke 6:38 Luke 6:38Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete with it shall be measured to you again.
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; Acts 20:35 Acts 20:35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
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How did Paul contrast these two ways of thinking and living?

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6 Romans 8:5-6 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
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“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5 Philippians 2:3-5 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
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The key to living a way of life different from the ways of the world is to allow God’s Spirit to work in us so we think like Jesus Christ. Through His Spirit God not only leads us in a different way of thinking, He helps us change the motivations that govern our actions. This focus on unselfishness rather than the self-serving approach produced by our natural way of thinking brings, in turn, a dramatic change in the way we live and everything we do.

What are the greatest priorities of our new way of life?

“The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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, New Century Version).

“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50 Matthew 12:50For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
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“… He who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17 1 John 2:17And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God stays for ever.
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God asks that we reorder our priorities, allowing His Spirit to help us change our thinking. Serving God by doing His will and desiring to be in His Kingdom should be our highest priority. When we put God first He promises to provide ways for us to meet our needs. That, of itself, is a wonderful promise that should give us confidence and comfort.

Living a godly life is much more than merely calling on God’s name as though that alone will excuse us for doing whatever we please. Living a godly life is doing what pleases God. It is practicing what He tells us to do—living a way of life defined by His Word. We need to clearly understand the basics of that way of life!

What other foundational principles did Christ and His apostles teach?

“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him [Jesus], saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live’ ” (Luke 10:25-28 Luke 10:25-28 25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said to him, What is written in the law? how read you? 27 And he answering said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. 28 And he said to him, You have answered right: this do, and you shall live.
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“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
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; compare John 15:15-17 John 15:15-17 15 From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you. 16 You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
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Jesus and His apostles taught a way of life based on observing God’s commandments from a heart of love that willingly makes personal sacrifices for the sake of others—focusing on giving rather than getting. It is the way of concern about the well-being of others.

A true Christian cannot base his way of life—his new way of living—on his own ideas about right and wrong. The basics of the way we should live are defined by God in the Scriptures. God’s laws, and Christ’s example of perfect obedience to those laws, set the standards for the genuinely Christian way of life.

Let’s be sure we understand the role of God’s law in our lives. Paul forcefully explains in his letters that no law can ever justify us—that is, it cannot remove the guilt we incurred through our past transgressions (Romans 3:23-25 Romans 3:23-25 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
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). Justification—the removal of guilt from sins previously committed—is a gift God freely gives when we repent and place our faith in Christ’s sacrificial death as payment for our sins. “Therefore,” says Paul, “we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28 Romans 3:28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
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)—that is, through faith in Christ’s death in our stead.

But Paul then explains the role the law still plays in our lives. “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31 Romans 3:31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yes, we establish the law.
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). The law’s purpose is not to provide forgiveness of sin but to define sin—”for by the law is the knowledge of sin ” (Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
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). God’s law reveals the principles and standards of the godly way of life.

Paul explained the foundation of the life he personally lived: “… I confess to you, that according to the Way which they [unbelievers] call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets ” (Acts 24:14-17 Acts 24:14-17 14 But this I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offense toward God, and toward men. 17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
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). Paul’s way of life was based on what he had learned from the Holy Scriptures.

This is what our lives should reflect—the highest standards of loving behavior according to those same Scriptures. Our behavior should reflect the attitude of wanting to be cooperative and respectful servants of both God and our fellow human beings. As true Christians we are supposed to be a caring and serving people who are uncompromisingly loyal to the principles taught in the Scriptures.