Possessing Our Vessel
The world in all its corruption and depravity has made the lives of Christians difficult and at times hard to maintain. As Peter warned, “…the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). It is under these conditions that God manifested His grace and gave mankind their Savior, Jesus Christ. While the majority of mankind will find the broad and easy route to eternal destruction more accommodating, Christians have been called to be a “peculiar people for God’s own possession” (Titus 2:14). Our peculiarity resides in the life and choices we will make are contrary to the rest of the world. As Peter said, “…they are surprised that you do not run with them in the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4). When we decide to walk the straight and narrow, we give up a life of directing our own steps by submitting to the will of God.
We have chosen to put on the new self and live in a manner that would be pleasing to God. It is in this new life, we are made righteous because of Jesus’ sacrifice and our obedience to His commands (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Our duty is to understand the value of possessing our vessels by not allowing the devil to impede our faithfulness to God. We are not battling against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). The devil has been tempting mankind since the Garden of Eden, and we must be prepared for his attacks against our lives. Therefore, let us look at three steps that can help us possess our vessels for the obedience to God.
The first step to insuring our vessels are being directed by the grace of God is to rid ourselves of any sinful habits. We must be mindful that sin will never be tolerated or excused by God (Exodus 34:7). So often a Christian’s sin will be excused by statements such as “that’s just the way he is,” or “he will try to do better.” These types of character flaws must be driven out of our lives and replaced with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). Take for example what Paul instructed to those guilty of stealing – “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). Paul does not excuse this person’s lifestyle of stealing, but he admonishes him to change his habits by bearing fruit of his repentance.
While this step will be hard and difficult at the beginning, we must all acknowledge that our lives prior to Christ were not sufficient in the sight of God and radical changes must be made to become pleasing in the sight of God. No matter the habit that we were addicted to, we must be changed and can only successfully do so by the grace and mercy of God. In all circumstances, the easiest route of change comes with a better knowledge of God’s Word (2 Peter 3:18). A person cannot do what he does not know. To defeat the sins of our past, we must look to the future and remember the promises of God, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).
The second step to insuring we are possessing our vessels for the kingdom of God is to withdraw from those who will only discourage us. The changes in our lifestyle and friends will be hard to make, but in many cases these changes will be the determining factor of whether or not we will remain faithful. Just as we cannot excuse sin based upon habits, neither can we underestimate the strength of peer pressure. Paul said correctly, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). If a person runs with dogs, plays with dogs, soon enough he will smell like a dog. The analogy is simple but is hard to put into action. We cannot forget that a little leaven will eventually leaven the entire lump of dough (1 Corinthian 5:6). Therefore, any leavening agent must be driven from our lives.
The third step to insuring we are possessing our vessels for the kingdom of God is to keep the proper perspective toward life. If we find ourselves failing to keep these first two steps, then a proper realignment may be in order. Last year when I had new tires put on my van, the dealership would not insure the work or tires without a realignment. This made sure all four tires were evenly distributed upon the road surface and that uneven ware would not invalidate the guarantee that came with the four tires. The same is true in our walk with God. He saved us from our sins and realigned our lives back onto the straight and narrow path. As long as we are submitting to His direction for our lives, our tires are evenly distributed on the roadway of life. It is when we yield to temptations that we begin to develop a uneven ware that can lead to a blowout, a wreck, and ultimately being stranded in the ditch along side the roadway. Everyday we need to confess our sins to God and have Him properly realign our lives back onto the straight and narrow path that leads to heaven.
While these three steps were never meant to be an exhaustive list, they help us find our way back to living a life that would be pleasing to God. In a world full of temptations, we need to draw near to God and put on His armor. Only when we submit to His authority, will we be able to possess our vessels for His righteousness.