Vol.XVIII No.IX Pg.3
November 1981

Living For Self Or God?

Dan S. Shipley

Generally speaking, men's lives are governed by one of two fundamental philosophies; namely, whether to live as self pleases, or to live as God pleases. The apostle Peter alludes to these two lifestyles while encouraging the latter when he says, "...that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God" (1 Pet. 4:2). Men will live to the one or the other; for self or for God. It is sobering to contemplate just how the rest of my time in the flesh will be lived. It is something every mortal would do well to consider.

As has been noted, our manner of life is governed either by self-will or by divine will. Not that we are always and exclusively influenced by one to the total neglect of the other. Bad men will often do some good things and good men will occasionally do bad. However, that which governs our lives is that which has the predominant or decisive influence. As a free moral agent, each man will determine his own priorities. He does not have to be the servant of sin! (Rom. 6:16-18) — but neither does God predestine or preserve him as a servant of righteousness. It is what a man wants to do; what he wants to be, that determines his priorities and the principles by which he will be governed.

Accordingly, Jesus tells certain Jews, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do" (Jn. 8:44). And to others like them He says, ...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. 23:37) They did as they pleased and in disregard for what pleased the Lord. In writing to the saints at Ephesus, Paul reminds them of a time in which "we also all lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind..." (2:3). This was their lifestyle, but it had changed because they had changed. It was no longer their desire to "live to the lusts of men, but to the will of God". So men can change their wills — and they do so as they change their minds in true repentance. Repentance is an effect of faith and faith comes from hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17; Jn. 20:31).

Therefore, as a man will hear and learn the will of God (3 Jn. 6:45), he can alter his own will and, consequently, his lifestyle. This is what Paul calls being "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). Every true Christian has been thusly changed. It is a change of faith, effected by the powerful word of God (Rom. 1:16) — nothing else can produce such faith or bring about such change. But, we must remember that a changed mind, in itself, does not mean a changed relationship with God. The alien sinner still must have forgiveness of sins and such is possible only in baptism. Because sins are washed away in baptism (Acts 22:16), it becomes the point of transition from a lost to a saved state. From such faith as will express itself in repentance and baptism comes remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and, thus, newness of life (Rom. 6:4). What better way to live the "rest of your time in the flesh"?