NE of the most important things for us to remember as Christians is what and where we once were. We must frequently review the fact that God has saved us from some very bad things. Of course, we are saved UNTO some good things as well. What and where we are now (as well as what and where we will be some day) are all marvelous realizations. Our feet are planted on solid ground. We are reconciled to God. We are saved unto good works. We are now the children of God. Heaven is our home. The Spirit of Christ lives in us. But there are as many things to put off and dispose of as there are to put on and add (Colossians 3:8-10). We've been rescued from an ocean of sin, but there are still many puddles and ponds that we need to avoid as we strive to walk (by faith) up the straight and narrow path. As Christians, our lives are supposed to stand in stark contrast to the lives of the unregenerate unbelievers among whom we live (Titus 2:14 & 1st Peter 2:9). It is vital that we live in holiness so that the grace of God is not wasted on us, and so that the ministry is never blamable (vs. 1 & 3).
Now, because God's children are called to minister in the world, there are many distinct contrasts in our spiritual service as well. Paul lists these characteristics carefully in vs. 4-10. For those of us who strive sincerely to serve the Master, there are very specific ways that we should live. And there always seems to be hardships to match every endeavor. Yet God is faithful. No matter what we encounter or endure, God invites us to rely on Him for our strength and direction. So, we preach with compassion and love to the inhabitants of this world, yet we are called to be separate from them (vs. 14-17).