Freedom in Christ
What is the state of sin in a believer’s life? The Bible reveals that the Christian is victorious, freed from sin, and alive to righteousness. It is not just that Jesus saves believers from judgment, but the Word expressly says He will save His people from their sins (Matt.1:21). Sin shall not have dominion over you (Rom.6:14). And, Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God (1John 3:9).
Yet we are faced with the problem of sin daily. The Scripture also says, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1John 1:8).
Now the sad reality is that many Christians live more in their awareness of sin than in the reality of Christ’s deliverance from sin. The Bible, however, speaks more of freedom and victory. In fact, we are not only delivered, we have actually become the righteousness of God in Christ (2Cor.5:21)!
“But I’m not righteousness! Just ask my family!” The mistake you are making is that you are looking to the works of your flesh for your righteousness. You will never find it there! But it is truly in your spirit. The Bible says that we have ALREADY been perfected forever, once for all (Heb.10:10,14). Having placed faith in Christ, the new you has ALREADY been created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph.4:24).
Righteousness is not according to works, but like salvation, it is a matter of faith. The truth is that if anyone is born again in Jesus, they have become a new creation (2Cor.5:17). Their spirit becomes perfect and righteous, even one with the Lord (1Cor.6:17)! But we still carry the flesh, which consists of the body and the soul (mind and emotions). These have not yet been perfected.
We are not in a sinless state of perfection. That will be in the world to come. There, we will have glorified bodies, and the effects of the curse will be gone forever.
Now a choice must be made. What’s it going to be? Are you going to focus on what you see in your flesh and bemoan your continual faults and failures? Or will you by faith believe that “I am righteous according to God’s Word” and give thanks to Jesus for your perfect standing with God?
We have to stop thinking of ourselves as slaves to a ‘sinful nature’ and rest in the truth that God has placed a new nature in us. Did you know that you are what you think? Proverbs 23:7 says, as he thinks in his heart, so is he. If you think, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace,” you will most likely continue to struggle to believe that God loves you. But if you think, “I have the very nature of Christ on the inside of me,” faith will be released and joy and peace will come from believing.
Paul said that he wanted to be found in Him not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith (Philippians 3:9). There it is! Just as we believe for our salvation (which we can’t see), we also must believe for our righteousness (which we can’t see).
“But I only see my failures!” Don’t get stuck on them. I used to be so introspective and consequently no fun to be around! I would despair that I was making no real spiritual progress. It is all too easy to go on in heaviness and mope in discouragement. Then the Christian life appears to be one big struggle.
It is finished!
The struggle ended at the cross! Jesus paid the full price for all of our sins, past, present, and even the future! On the cross He purchased salvation for us, but also so much more– including righteousness and healing.
Because He finished it, nothing you or I can do can change that. God sees us as righteous as we can ever be. No great work will make us more righteous, and no sin or failure will make us less righteous. That is the GOOD NEWS of the gospel!
Does that mean we can just go out and sin, and all is well?
Paul already dealt with this question in Romans chapter 6. I would loosely sum it up by saying that sin enslaves you to the wrong master. It can harden your heart and bring terrible things into your life. But it does not change God’s love for you or the finished work of Jesus on the cross. You might turn from God but He doesn’t turn from you. Recall the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.
Grow in Grace
When you stop trying to be righteous by your works and simply begin to give thanks to God for the gift of His righteousness and acceptance no matter how bad you seem, it will do something to you. You will begin to love and worship Him more.
When I came to this revelation, I found that I was progressing in holiness more by accident than I ever did trying to in my own efforts! And that is how we grow:
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen (2Peter 3:18).
Growth comes through grace, not self-efforts or religious piety. I used to cry out, “O God, please change me!” And I continued to be frustrated. Now I simply say, “Thank you Lord that you HAVE changed me. I desire to manifest it more in my life.”
The avenue of grace is ‘the road less traveled’. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is the unmerited blessings of salvation and righteousness upon any who would believe. Through the cleansing blood of Christ, faith releases the burden of our imperfection and sees it transformed into favor with God. Then, rather than wallowing in despair over ourselves, it rejoices and rests in the fountain of life. It rests in grace, and does not fret about becoming more righteous.
To grow in grace is to become more and more at rest trusting in His perfection, which has become our own! This produces thankfulness and affection, and ultimately, transformation.
Lay Aside the Weight
Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb.12:1).
God is not looking at your lack of perfection so why should you? He is looking at you through Christ’s perfection- and so should you! This kind of thinking, however, does not come easy. Religion has trained us to measure ourselves according to our works. There is a lot of unlearning to do. And this grace message has to be continually reviewed, because it goes so contrary to our traditional thinking.
The work of God is to believe on Him whom He has sent (John 6:29). When ‘the weight and sin that ensnares’ is upon the Christian, it must be laid aside. The work to be done is simply believing in Jesus. That old legalistic traditional way of thinking will come again and again. When it does, it is time to get to work– believe in Jesus. He obeyed completely for us, and He paid completely for our shortcomings.
Example: The thought may arise: “You helped that person but it was completely selfish, so that you might look better.” Choose one:
a. Grieve and mourn and cry, “Oh when will I ever be better!”
b. Humbly say, “Yes, it’s true,” and then “thank you Jesus for covering that! Thank you that I am no longer under your displeasure: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14).
The conscience can be at ease now. Christ has redeemed. It is His goodness our works are filtering through. He didn’t shed His blood and finish the work so that we could add to it. We are completely accepted because of the cross. That means that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1Cor.15:58).
“But my works are so tainted!” Doesn’t matter. They are sanctified through the blood. Besides, do you really think you could ever arrive to a place where your works are completely perfect? Has anybody ever attained to that?
The weight is thrown off, and we have stopped looking to ourselves and our works. This frees us to continue on in the race with endurance.
Paul determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1Cor.2:2). I am beginning to understand this more. The crucified Christ is the acceptable sacrifice. And that blood, worth more than all the riches that can be imagined, is what makes us clean in the sight of God -not the good we do, the successes we enjoy, or how broken or humble we get.
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