In school you learned about the three main verb tenses in English: past, present and future. These tenses describe three very different timeframes. One could say that a boy “threw” the ball (past tense), or a boy “is throwing” the ball (present tense) or a boy “will throw” the ball (future tense).
Those same tenses can be used to describe a Christian’s life. The New Testament talks definitively about a Christian’s PAST life, with a great emphasis on leaving it in the past. Terminology is used to speak of one’s “former conduct” (Gal. 1:13; Eph. 4:22), when one was conforming to “former lusts” (1 Pet. 1:14). The word “once” is used in consideration of when Christians “once walked according to the course of this world” (Eph. 2:2), “once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh” (Eph. 2:3), “once were far off” (Eph. 2:13), “were once disobedient to God” (Rom. 11:30), “were once darkness” (Eph. 5:8), “were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived” (Tit. 3:3). The desire of God is that “once” that “former” life of the past has been “crucified” with Christ, that we should “no longer” live that life (Rom. 6:6).
The New Testament talks definitively about a Christian’s PRESENT life, with a great emphasis on living every day for Christ. Terminology is used to speak of “the life which I now live in the flesh” (Gal. 2:20), “now in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:13), “now you are light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8), “now also Christ will be magnified in my body” (Phil. 1:20). Present tense verbs permeate the New Testament to describe the Christian’s present life—“speaking the truth in love…give no opportunity to the devil…let him labor, working with his hands…Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth…be kind to one another… forgiving one another…” (Eph. 4:15, 27, 28, 29, 32). The present tense “living sacrifice” of our present lives (Rom. 12) is detailed over and over in Scripture.
The New Testament talks definitively about a Christian’s FUTURE life, with a great emphasis on focusing our attention and energies in that direction. Terminology is used to speak of God’s promise that He “will give to eat from the tree of life” (Rev. 2:7), “will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10), “will give of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev. 21:6), for the “faithful” Christian “will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4), “will receive the crown of life” (Jas. 1:12), “will be supplied [an entrance] into the everlasting kingdom” (2 Pet. 1:11). We can know for certain that these things “will” happen in the future.
How critical it is for one to “repent” of his PAST life (2 Pet. 3:9) and live “in holy conduct and godliness” in the PRESENT (3:11), in order to be ready for “the coming of the day of God” (3:12) in the FUTURE.
~Via David Sproule