As the years went by I saw even more “lives.” I spent several years as a full-time preacher’s wife and homemaker who taught a few piano lessons here and there among the many moves we made. Then I went through a life when my husband worked the regular hours of any provider and my in-home music studio became nearly a full time job. Now I am in another life, one of increasing disability. Yet in many ways it is the best “life” yet since I am finally able to spend hours in Bible study and writing, and have come to know the joys of being a grandparent. I suspect there will be yet another life sooner or later. All things being equal, as they say, I will probably be a widow someday, and due to this eye disease will be blind and once again living as a dependent.
When I was young, I remember people speaking about a TV show called “I Led Three Lives.” I never saw it. It first aired on Oct 1, 1953, before I was even born, and its last episode was broadcast May 1, 1957. It was a product of the Cold War, loosely based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, an advertising executive in Boston who infiltrated the American Communist Party for the FBI. His three lives were as advertising man, “Communist,” and counter spy. A little mulling it over and I realized Christians all lead three lives—first sinner, then believer, and finally immortal.
The New Testament even speaks of it as “lives.” In Col 3:9,10, the old self and its practices are put away for a new self, “renewed by knowledge.” The old self was corrupt through “deceitful desires,” and the new self was “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” Eph 4:22,24. The old life was lived for ourselves, the new life is lived for Christ, 2 Cor 5:15. We crucified the old man, one enslaved to sin, and the new man was set free from that sin. We were once slaves of righteousness and are now slaves of God, Rom 6:6,7,19,20. We used to live for human passions; now we live for the will of God, 1 Pet 4:2. At one time we lived in darkness and now we live as children of Light, Eph 5:8. Once it was I who lived, but now it is Christ living in me, Gal 2:19,20.
And that leaves only the eternal life to come, 1 Tim 4:8, the one Paul says is “truly” life, 6:19. That one depends upon how we live this second life. We must feed on the bread of life, John 6:51. We must sow to the Spirit, Gal 6:8. We must have patience in well-doing, Rom 2:7. We must do good and believe, John 5:29; 6:40. We must be righteous which, in the context of the verse, Matt 25:46, means we must serve, and we must love our brethren in order to experience that eternal life, 1 John 3:15.
But simply making a list and following it won’t suffice. The life must be such an integral part of you that the “list” takes care of itself. Philbrick lived his three lives simultaneously; ours are supposed to be consecutive, one completely giving way to the other. Anything else is a sham that will keep you from that third life.
Paul never speaks of eternal life as anything but a certainty. As surely as you are living a life now, that final one will come too, the life that is “truly” life. It will make these other two seem like nothing in its length, in its glory, in its joy. “I led three lives,” we will say. No, we only led two. We will lead the last one forever.
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began, Titus 1:1-2.