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April 06, 2009
St. Paul tells us how to live a life in Christ
By Brian Pizzalato *

By Brian Pizzalato *

Last month we discovered that St. Paul does not teach that we are saved by faith alone apart from the "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5, 16:26). As St. Paul says in Ephesians, "…live in a manner worthy of the call you have received" (4:1). We must live this way because we have received the one Spirit, from the one God and Father of us all, through baptism, which makes us one body in Christ. (cf. Ephesians 4:4-6). "We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

Living a life in Christ is nothing less than reliving the life of Christ in our own person.

Jesus referred to himself as the temple. "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up…he was speaking of the temple of his body" (John 2:19, 21). His body was a temple because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. "…He came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him" (Matthew 3:16).

The baptized, too, have been filled with the Holy Spirit. St. Paul asks: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

St. Paul also urges us to relive the life of Christ, whose body was a temple, by offering "your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual [rational] worship" (Romans 12:1).

How are we supposed to live a life in Christ, according to St. Paul? Let us prayerfully consider the following passages:

§ "Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all…Do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ Rather, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heep burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good" (Romans 12:9-21).

§ "The body…is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body…Shall I then take Christ’s members and make them members of a prostitute? Of course not!...Avoid immorality." (1 Corinthians 6:13b, 15, 18).

§ "I say then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law [circumcision]. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:16-23).

§ "Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil. The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work with his [own] hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need. No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from among you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ" (Ephesians 4:25-32).

§ "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father" (Colossians 3:12-18).

§ "So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us as a sacrificial offering for a fragrant aroma" (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Printed with permission from the Diocese of Duluth.

Brian Pizzalato is the Director of Catechesis, R.C.I.A. & Lay Apostolate, Diocese of Duluth and is a faculty member of the Philosophy department of the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England.

Brian writes a monthly column, “Veritatis Splendor,” for The Northern Cross of the Diocese of Duluth and his 33-part series on the sacraments for The Northern Cross have also been posted on Catholic News Agency's website, where he also authors a weekly column, “Road to Emmaus,” on the Sunday Readings, (which are translated into Romanian and posted on www.profamilia.ro).

Pizzalato is currently authoring the regular series, "Catechesis and Contemporary Culture," in The Sower, published by the Maryvale Institute. He is also author of the Philosophy of Religion course book for the B.A. in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition at the Maryvale Institute.

Brian holds an M.A. in Theology and Christian Ministry with a Catechetics specialization and an M.A. in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. Brian currently pursuing an M.A. in Biblical Studies at the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO as well as being a Ph.D. candidate at the Maryvale Institute. Brian is married and has six children.
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