So, what is this new nature going to look like? It may have been that, like some new Christian believers today, Paul's readers had assumed that they would be magically transformed to having triumphant, abundant lives. Paul, however, reminds them that this will take work. Yes, we like them receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and lives when we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and He is always present to strengthen, bless and protect you: but, look around you, there are varying levels of commitment exhibited even by the believers you know. As we have taken off the old sinful garments and dressed ourselves in new godly attire, so we are to excise from our lives all that gives the Holy Spirit grief. Now presumably the following list of 'don't's' Paul gives are relevant to his readers: they had until recently, some of them, been thieves, liars, bad-tempered people... Things to go from our lives are: 1. Bitterness or long-standing resentment. I'm certain that we have all known someone whose life has been destroyed by their bitterness, you can see their spirit becoming cramped and distorted by their overwhelming sense of hurt. Each evening remind yourself that as Christ has forgiven you so you must do to others. 2. Anger, defined as quick-temperedness. The sort which gives no consideration for others. The idea that you can quickly get it out of your system by shouting and throwing things and blow anyone in your way! The Christian must discipline their spirit. 3. Insulting language. Those who think they can bully others by using such cannot grow in the faith. Keep your voice down! 4. We are to be honest with ourselves and with others. You are who you are and God loves you, why pretend to be someone you are not? 5. Christian believers must find honest work and do it well. If you think that your work is a little thing and you could have done something far more accomplished, remind yourself that God has put you in this place and to do a job well and with thankfulness is a huge witness. 6. In a catch-all summary, Paul commands his readers not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This is both a reminder that He is a feeling being-we are made in His image-and a statement that He is the guide in our lives. We may be doing well, but is it the best; is it what God wants us to do? Beware of easy contentment in doing OK, when we should be doing so much more. Most of you live in the beautiful town of Bradford on Avon and it's a lot easier here to do good and to be happy, smiley people. Beware complacency!
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