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The Real Thing

1 Peter 1:22-23
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (NIVUK)

In 1969, an international soft drinks manufacturer used a new slogan, "The real thing". Its appeal was simple: the authenticity of satisfied thirst.  Of course, that can only be a pale illustration of the satisfaction that Jesus Christ brings to everyone who believes in Him. While Christ's blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7), that is only the beginning of our new relationship with Him.  If we are to honour what He has done for us, we will want to be active in rooting out the impurity from which we have been rescued. True belief should lead to real lifestyle change.

God’s grace in the gospel is not only saving but transforming.  Titus 2:11-12 says. ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age …’  Conversion, in Acts 6:7, is described as becoming ‘obedient to the faith’.  Continuing as disciples is called ‘obeying the truth’ in Galatians 5:7, and ‘obeying the gospel’ in 2 Thessalonians 1:8.  That transformation is motivated by God as we allow the seed of God’s Word to germinate, take root and produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26) in our lives.  It is not just a transformation of inner purity but also stirs us to create love-filled relationships, in the style of God’s sacrificial love to us (John 13:34-35).

The old impure life is seen in bad relationships: disobedience, hatred, hypocrisy and self-centredness (Colossians 3:7-9). Peter says that true love for our spiritual brothers and sisters is evidence that we have become children of God. He does not advocate insincere words to emotionally bribe others to think well of us, but obedience to God's Word which makes us peace-loving and peace-making (James 3:17).  He is not interested in us manipulating people but expressing genuine love (Romans 12:9).  He throws out the idea of ‘superficial fellowship' and replaces it with the need for deep, heart-felt, love – held in the Father’s heart, modelled by Christ and worked in us by the Spirit so that we can learn to live in love according to God’s Word (1 John 2:5).   

We first knew about God's saving work when we heard the authentic gospel (Ephesians 1:13). That Word always remains true and there is nothing deceitful about it.  It does not change with time or decay in power (1 Peter 1:25). Its message is the only way to find the real Saviour (Acts 4:12).  But, having found Him, how can we be two-faced with other believers, or use them for our own purposes, or relate in falsehood and hypocrisy?  Honesty, purity, integrity and genuine love are etched into the cross of Christ, and they should also be seen in every interaction between Christians too. Whenever God’s people show love to each other they demonstrate the kingdom of heaven (John 13:34-35).  Whenever you meet another believer, let your relationship prove your family unity - whether in the church or the workplace … so that Christ may be glorified.

Prayer 
Loving Saviour. Thank You for Your love which bound You to the cross for my sake. Forgive me for not treasuring other believers as I should. Help me at work, as well as in the church, to relate with fellow believers in a way that reflects the purity and integrity of Your love to us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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