Being right with God is a matter of the heart. But the Bible shows that if our hearts really are right with God, we'll stop sinning. In his letters to young churches, the Apostle Paul over and over urges Christians to put off sin. In fact, gives lists of them for the Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians to get rid of (Gal. 5:16-24; Eph. 5:1-21; Col. 3:1-17). Those early Christians did well to take these exhortations to heart, and so should Christians today.
But here's something important. In each one of these cases, Paul doesn't simply tell Christians to clean up their acts and be good boys and girls. If that's all there was to it, Christians wouldn't be any better off than moral pagans. In every case the Apostle presents our moral choices in light of Jesus Christ. "Walk in the Spirit," he tells the Galatians. "Walk in love, just as Christ loved you," the Ephesians hear. "Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is," Paul reminds the Colossians.
You see? True obedience is a matter of fellowship with Jesus Christ. If we want to be obedient to God we have to make the effort to put off sin. And that happens not when we keep looking at ourselves, but to the Savior.
(c) Copyright 2007, A. Milton Stanley