Motivated to Service
We have noted that the greatest motivator for walking in the the new nature (the spirit) is the love of Christ our Savior. We also noted that the result of walking in and feeding the new nature is a clear conscience which leads to a vibrant prayer life and meaningful worship.
But we must not neglect other negative results of walking in the flesh. There are, of course, temporal consequences of walking in the old nature. These range from an empty life of slavery to the flesh to lack of peace to strife in our personal relationships and even to death. Beyond the temporal there are consequences in the age to come as well.
As we have laid out in previous studies, no one, no action, no sin can separate us from either the love of God or His promise of resurrection life through faith alone by grace alone through Christ alone. Nothing can rob us of the "life through his name" promised to all who place their faith in him. But we can certainly suffer loss. The Christian life is a race and we are either headed towards perfection (maturity) or perdition (loss). How we run that race will be reflected in the rewards, crowns, and the prize available to the believer at the judgment of his service.
This general truth is applicable in all ages (though the criteria may vary). A believer who chooses to live according to the old nature is like an unprofitable servant. The unprofitable servant is still a servant. He is still in the household of the master, but he may be found wanting in his service and lose reward.
Warnings for Believers
The narrow way and the broad way are choices for the believer. We would never tell someone who does not have the free gift of life that he must "do" something to "earn" it. There are so many passages of scripture which are given to believers in the context of reward which are misapplied to unbelievers in the context of resurrection life.
This is very dangerous.
Here is just one example:
We've all heard about the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" and "the outer darkness" spoken of by the Lord Jesus Christ. We almost universally hear it applied as a warning to unbelievers. But the context is ignored! When we look at this warning (to Israel during the Lord's earthly ministry) we do see faith, but we also see works. Works are never to be seen in context of the gift of resurrection life (except as the resultant evidence of the new nature).
I ask those who use this verse for the unbeliever, do you consider yourself a "child of the kingdom?" Can a child of the kingdom lose his gift of eternal life? Ignoring the error in claiming ourselves a heirs to Israel's earthly kingdom, surely we understand that one cannot lose a free gift. But who is the subject of the weeping and gnashing in the outer darkness?
the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. -Matt 11:12
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them..." -Matt 25:14
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness.There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ vs.29-30
So let us now look back at our passage in Romans 8 and its warning.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. -Rom 8:1
Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him... -Heb 1:14, Heb 2:1-3
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
As I mentioned, the Book of Hebrews is the book of the life of maturity for Israel. The parallel book for our age is the Book of Philippians. We will look at this book in future studies.