Galatians 5.24 observes, those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.
What do Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump all have in common? They would all claim to be Christians. Do they look like Christians? Do we look like Christians? What is a Christian supposed to look like?
The Apostle John summarizes the look of a Christian best when he wrote that those who claim to be Christians must live as Jesus lived. Paul explores the negative side of that expectation in today’s verse: what it doesn’t look like to be a Christian.
Here is the short list Paul put together of things Christians are no longer expected to participate in: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. People who do these things demonstrate that their true allegiance is to self and their pleasures.
Those who live like Jesus, who obey the commands of God, demonstrate their true allegiance is to Jesus. This is why Christians are people who read the Bible as often as possible so that they can know their God and know how to live lives pleasing to Him. This sort of behavior separates believers in God from followers of Jesus.
While Jesus certainly required people to believe in Him, He did so with the understanding that those same people would follow Him. To Jesus, following Him meant being a disciple and a disciple He defined as being a person who obeys all of His commands.
The Christian message is that all people fail to love God and obey His commands from birth. The consequence for this disrespect and disobedience toward God is condemnation resulting in eternal punishment.
Jesus, as God, lived a perfect human life so that He could be a perfect human sacrifice taking the punishment all of humanity deserved upon Himself. This punishment was given at the cross He was crucified upon, not men hanging Him on a tree, but God hanging on Him the consequence of all humanity for disregarding and disobeying Him.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proves God’s acceptance of His sacrifice and wins Him the authority to impute that acceptance upon all He chooses to pardon. Who does Jesus pardon? All those who believe He is indeed the sacrificial Savior and follow Him in submission by obeying His commands.
To Paul’s point, the things Jesus was punished for, the things listed above, have been nailed to the cross with Jesus and therefore should no longer be prevalent in the new life of true Christians. If we are truly Christians those behaviors that caused God to demonstrate His wrath upon Jesus have died with Jesus.
Christians now live lives reflective of the new life they have received from the resurrected Jesus – lives that obey God and do His will.
This is what true Christianity looks like.