1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For kit is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
When we think of the gospel, and indeed salvation itself, we very often think of deliverance from the consequences of sin. As often as we think of this, we equally and habitually think of some kind of pursuit of personal holiness as well. The problem with this view is that it tends towards missing the miraculous mystery and blessing of the gospel. The true miracle and mystery in the gospel is the Son of God giving Himself, and offering to us the opportunity to do the same. Oswald Chambers describes it in My Utmost For His Highest in this way;
Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself. My experimental knowledge of salvation will be along the line of deliverance from sin and of personal holiness; but salvation means that the Spirit of God has brought me into touch with God’s personality, and I am thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself; I am caught up into the abandonment of God.
In other words, the purpose of the gospel is not to save us from sin or to make us holy, these are fortunate side effects of its true purpose. The purpose of the gospel is that in it Christ bridges the gap between God and man, and offers us an opportunity to be, ”…caught up into the abandonment of God”. The true meaning of John 3:16 is that Christ gave Himself to us, and we are in turn offered the opportunity to “be imitators of Christ” in our selfless sacrifice and the pursuit of the person of God, and “…walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:1-2).
The gospel, then, is not purely an opportunity to gain the dissolution of the guilt of sin, nor is it primarily the opportunity to gain holiness. The gospel represents the loss of all that is self as a subsequent result of pursuit of Christ alone. It is no accident that Paul offers us this primary motive preceding the challenge to abandon the various immoral activities and attitudes that characterize normative, though not acceptable, human character. We are to abandon the path of our human nature, lay it on the cross as Christ laid Himself, and with all our faculties pursue God. In other words, what we are before the gospel is nothing like what we should be after the gospel. If we are caught up in the life we once lived, we will fail to see the true beauty of salvation in being caught up in the abandonment of God. If we focus too much on ourselves, we will miss the gift of who God is, and we will fail to realize the purpose of the cross.
My encouragement to you is to “…look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:15–17). Every day that we have is an opportunity to know God. We should endeavor to not simply live the Christian life in static disposition, but every moment we have should be one in which we make progress towards seeking the person of God through Jesus Christ. If we fail to do this, but instead live in accordance to our old character, we have squandered the time that we have been given to seek God. May God bless you and keep you as you seek Him to the abandonment of all else.