The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Convictionless Christianity), we learned that God’s Law is, in fact, relevant and binding on our lives as Christians. So, we serve God through adherence to His commands!
In Romans 12 Paul admonished Christians not to live in conformance with this world but live according to God’s Law and God’s will. Then, in Chapter 13 this admonition about godly living became a stern warning about corporeal Christianity. Because of the immediacy of our salvation (Christ may come or we may die), we must not live out our lives in this world trying to fulfill our human desires.
Paul said salvation has brought light to our darkened souls so we must cast off the works of darkness–drunkeness, sexual immorality, quarreling and jealousy–and put on the armor of light.
The Old Testament prophet, Haggai, used an example from the ceremonial law to demonstrate the distinction between carnality and spirituality: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Ask the priests about the law: If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’ The priests answered and said, ‘No.’ Then Haggai said, ‘If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?’ The priests answered and said, ‘It does become unclean.'” (Haggai 2:11-13, ESV).
In other words, if something touches holy, it simply doesn’t make it holy. On the other hand, if something touches unclean (or unholy), it absolutely becomes unclean (or unholy).
While going to church every Sunday doesn’t necessarily make you holy, regular contact with works of darkness will certainly make you unholy.
Just being in the light doesn’t enlighten the soul, but constantly being in darkness will darken the soul. That’s why Paul said we must “put on” the light, not just be in the light.
We put on the armor of light by by putting on Jesus. You clothe or cover yourself with Jesus; you conduct yourself like Jesus would. And, in so doing, you make no provision for the flesh–you don’t allow your corporeal or carnal self–your flesh–to be gratified.
In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul calls corporeal Christians “people of the flesh” and likens them to baby or immature Christians: “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, ESV).
Corporeal Christians are immature spiritually because they don’t try to grow up spiritually. They don’t accept responsibility for their own spiritual growth and development through bible study, prayer, meditation and godliness. So, they remain like spiritual babies just trying to find gratification for their own personal needs and wants.
And, it’s certainly easier to be a child than a grown-up–both in your physical, corporeal life and in your spiritual life. It’s easier to give in to our human nature and live in the darkness of this world than in the light of the world to come.
Fortunately, God has enabled and empowered us by His indwelling Spirit to cast off fleshly desires and live godly lives and become mature Christians: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV).
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV)