The Bible says that salvation is a work of God from beginning to that day His people enter eternity. He choose us, redeemed and saved us from sin. We belong to Him, not by coercion or against our will — for by professing faith in Jesus Christ, God’s people willingly belong to God.
Not only that, He changes our lives. No matter what a person might have been involved in before they became a Christian, God gives us the ability to choose new behaviors. In Christ, we have new life. This is why God says:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
“And such were some of you, but . . .” God washed away those sins, setting His people apart for Himself, considering them in Christ and just as if they had not sinned. Again, He gives us freedom to choose and because of the love of God and the power of His Spirit living in us, we can live godly lives.
The Apostle Paul knew the truth of this from his own experience. He had persecuted Christians prior to meeting Christ and receiving new life. At that point, he realized his freedom, yet he also realized God did not give that freedom to him so he could live as he once did. He wrote these words to others who were once living sinful lives . . .
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:12–20)
Why did they need this admonition? Anyone who has been saved from a sinful lifestyle knows why — our sinful nature is not yet out of the picture. We remember the so-called pleasures of sin and the strong temptation of things forbidden. Our lying enemy has a far greater likelihood of pulling a former addict, a former thief, a former adulterer back into their sinful life than convincing someone who has never tried any of these destructive sins. They, and all believers need to be reminded Who we belong to and how sin violates the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Jesus, truly my old sinful nature resists total submission to You. Your people sometimes stumble and fall. Restore those who crash, and keep us in Your will. I am grateful that when temptations come, You remind me that I am a child of God, an heir and joint-heir with You. You provide everything I need as a father provides for his children. You guide and protect me because You are my Shepherd and my King. I belong to You. Heighten my desire to do Your will, not to serve my own interests or give myself to the interests of anyone else. Hold me close. Keep me aware that I have no other concern or mandate but to live in sweet surrender — because everything I am and have belongs to You.