Many define the Christian faith in terms of what we are NOT supposed to do. Jesus taught his disciples to not bear bad fruit in their lives, which means that they are not to do evil deeds. Paul is very clear that Christians are to die to their earthly or fleshly nature which manifests itself in deeds of darkness such as “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed…anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Col 3: 5,8). There are many other lists of evil deeds in the New Testament that we as Christians are NOT to participate in any longer. It is true then that part of the definition of what being a Christian is what we do NOT do.
Others define the Christian faith in terms of what we SHOULD do. The Lord commanded his disciples to go and to obey all that he commanded them to do. Paul also taught that the Christian life was to be filled with deeds of light. Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” It is clear that there are many things that we SHOULD do in our lives as Christians.
The Christian life is to include both of the elements mentioned above, what we are NOT to do AND what we SHOULD do. Ultimately though, the New Testament teaches that the Christian faith is to be defined by what has been DONE for us. Our faith in Christ is dependent first and foremost on what Jesus has DONE for us on the cross. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made youalive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:13-14).
The fact of the matter is that without the cross we would remain dead in our sins. There would be no faith. So, instead of thinking of your faith as a list of things that you SHOULD do or NOT do, I think we should think of it in terms of what has been DONE for us. We are to live out our faith in thankful response to Jesus’ loving deeds on the cross. We are to be so thankful for what God has done for us that we can’t help but live a life of righteousness (things we SHOULD do) and purity (things we do NOT do).