|Volume 22 Number 1 January 2020||
Gary C. Hampton
Quite a few people use the greeting, “What’s new?” It is their way of opening the door to any conversation an individual might want to have. It is also a good question for God’s people to ask.
God has made and will make things new for us. He sent Jesus to be the Mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 12:24). This covenant enables God’s children to come before His throne (Hebrews 10:19-20). We become a part of that new covenant when we are made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Christians look forward to new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13). In that realm, the faithful will be with God and will be designated as His people. The Father will wipe away our tears. Death, sorrow, crying and pain will be no more (Revelation 21:1-5).
God’s people should make sure they are made new for God. Paul wrote, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15). We cannot allow the world to fit us into its mold, but we must renew our minds daily (Romans 12:1-2). The physical man will continue his path toward death. The spiritual man should be renewed daily (2 Corinthians 4:16).
What’s new? It is everything God has prepared and will prepare for His people. We must be sure to be a people who emphasize being made new for God.
God’s Exercise Plan
Health and fitness are popular these days. There is a lot of discussion about the need to exercise and be careful about what we eat. The Bible speaks of the need to treat the body properly. Paul noted that there is some profit to bodily exercise (1 Timothy 4:8). It is a good thing to take care of our physical temple and to do what we can to be good stewards of the bodies that God has given to us (1 Corinthians 4:2; 6:19-20). However, let us be sure that as we eat, exercise and diet for the good of our physical bodies that we do not neglect what is most important—our spiritual lives (2 Corinthians 5:1). God has a workout plan of His own, and we would be wise to heed the things that He says so we will be spiritually fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
Stretch for Heaven
It is always wise to be sure to stretch before engaging in any athletic activities so that a muscle is not pulled. Those who start running or lifting weights without first stretching run the risk of hurting themselves. Paul speaks of reaching forth for the things that are before (Philippians 3:13 KJV). The ESV says, “straining forward to what lies ahead.” The word translated reaching forth or straining forward (epekteinomai) means to stretch forward, try hard or to strain toward something. As we labor toward our heavenly inheritance, we should be sure to stretch for it and use every effort humanly possible to be sure we reach the desired goal (1 Peter 1:3-5). We need to give every effort to present ourselves approved of God, and we do this as we handle the Word of God properly (2 Timothy 2:15). Let us be stretching out for Heaven and not behaving as if we have already reached the finish line. We are to stretch “toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus“ (Philippians 3:14).
Walk in the Light
John spoke of God being light, with no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5). If we are going to have fellowship with God, we need to be sure to walk in the light just as He is in the light (1 John 1:6-7). Walking in the New Testament is often used as a synonym for the way an individual lives. Christians are told to walk worthy of the calling by which we have been called through the Gospel (Ephesians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). God’s exercise plan includes living in the light of His Word by confessing sin when we err (1 John 1:8-10). Walking in the light also involves loving our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:7-11). Walking in the light does not mean we are going to be sinlessly perfect, but it does mean that we need to strive as best we can to be pleasing to God in every area of life. We are to walk in newness of life after our baptism. This means our thinking, activities, desires and habits are all to be dictated by the Word of God (Romans 6:4).
Run Away from Sexual Immorality
While it is true that the wicked flee when no one pursues, there are times when the people of God should flee or run away (Proverbs 28:1). The Corinthians were told to flee fornication because it is a sin against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). While fornication is tolerated, accepted and praised in our culture, we must be different. It is important that we not only abstain from it ourselves, but that we do not watch it on television or listen to music that endorses it (Romans 1:32). There are things that should not be mentioned among us as the people of God, and fornication is one of those things (Ephesians 5:4). This means that the last people on earth who should be guilty of the sin of fornication should be Christians. If we run from fornication and the youthful lust that incites fornication, we will be exercising spiritually in a way that honors God (2 Timothy 2:22).
Lifting weights physically builds physical strength. Lifting burdens spiritually builds spiritual strength. Paul told the churches of Galatia that they must not only bear the burdens of those who stumble, but they must bear their own burdens (Galatians 6:2, 5). The word translated bear (bastazo) used in Galatians 6:2 and 6:5 means to lift, raise or pick up. Are we lifting the load of others as God would have us to do? Are we weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15)? Are we putting others ahead of ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:3-5)? Are we carrying our own load (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10)? Let us lift the burdens God designates so we can build the strength God wants us to have.
Exercise is important, especially the spiritual exercise that God designs for us in His Word. God wants us to stretch, walk, run and even lift. We cannot be lazy in this regard (Romans 12:11). Let us be spiritually in shape so we will please the One Who is training us in godliness.