Be vs. Do, pt. 5 – Faith to BE

be vs do

November 13

The gospel message is that Jesus came to do everything necessary to make us vessels suitable for divine habitation. He came to deal (completely) with our sinfulness – and with everything that sin had done to effect our lives.

The important thing is that we see this as a completed work. Because that’s the way Scripture portrays the work of Jesus. A complete… and a completed work.

There is nothing left to be done… that has not already been done – in order that we may be prepared and ready to be the vessels of God’s habitation.

So why do we so often struggle with failure? Why do we still fight with doubts and temptation? Our addictions? Our character flaws? The chains of our past?

Chained

Because we are trying to live the Christian life by our own efforts. We try and live by our own wisdom. Our own ability and strength. Our own way of doing what we think pleases God.

And we always fail.

We fail because human beings can never do God things. We do not have the capacity (in our humanity) to do what God does. So… we try to do perfection (because we think that perfection is what a perfect God is seeking) – and we fail… most every time we try. We want (and try) to do all the things that we think please God (whether moral behavior or religious fervor or great feats, or the sacrifices we make, etc.)

All these things are… US trying to DO what we think God wants.

When all God really wants is for us to trust completely in what Jesus has done for us.

True faith is not faith in what God will do for us – true faith is resting in the completed work of Christ. It is accepting, as fact, that the work is truly finished (nothing left that needs to be done). It is Christ’s work alone that is all-sufficient. It is Christ’s work alone that pleases God. And when we apply what Jesus has done to our every day lives – we are mentally (and spiritually) ready for what God desires to do through us.

it is finished

As Christians, the temptation is always to try and do Christianity. God simply calls us to BE Christians. He will take care of the “doing” through us.

As most of you are aware… the term “Christian” simply infers that we are “like Christ.” Scripture tells us that we are like Christ – because that’s what Christ came to do for us. He came to (fully) enable us to BE just like Him.

The secret of true Christianity is found in the simplicity that we are not called to do things for God – but that we are to BE what Christ’s work has made us to be… fully enabled/prepared for God to do what He desires, from within us.

From the moment we see that we ARE His – perfectly forgiven, delivered, healed, whole, blameless, righteous and holy (because of ALL Jesus has done) then a whole new world of experience can open up for us.

new opportunities

Jesus DID so we can BE – and being what God has made us to be is the essence of a true faith.

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Be vs. Do, pt. 4 – The Whole Point

be vs do

November 12

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” (Eph. 2:10)

We have been talking about being vs. doing – and the vital importance of seeing ourselves in light of God’s provision, through the completed work of Christ.

Most Christians do not really understand what Jesus came to do. We have so often reduced the gospel to a message about forgiveness for our sins… (so important, yes!) but encompassing little else. If that is all we see in Jesus’ work on our behalf, we’ll always live far beneath what God has provided for us, in the work of His Son.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Everything we needed, has been provided (perfectly) through Christ. Everything!

2peter-1-3.jpg

We needed to be forgiven. We have been forgiven through Christ. We needed to be holy. We have been made holy through our Redeemer (Heb. 10:10). We needed to be righteous. We have been made righteous through Christ (Rom. 3:21-22). We needed deliverance from the power of sin. We have been delivered from sin’s power through Christ (Rom. 6:6). We needed release from the prison of our past. We have been released through Christ (John 8:32,36). We needed to be healed and made whole in our souls. We have been healed and made whole through Christ (1Pet. 2:24). And on and on…

Whatever we needed, God has already met our need through Christ. Completely! There is nothing that we need that has not already been fully supplied through the work of Jesus, on our behalf. There is also nothing we can DO to make any of this happen.

“Well, that’s wonderful… but just what does that actually mean for us?”

It means that our whole focus in life has shifted. We are not trying to become something better… or waiting on God to provide something that we lack… or apply all our efforts and energies into being good – or religious – or faithful.

Lack pleading

Jesus did not come just to cleanse us of our sins and give us a new lease on life. Jesus came to make us ready for a new kind of life. A life based on GOD living within us, and working through us, to accomplish His purposes through our lives (Eph. 2:10).

Does God know how to do what is right? Does God know how to live a holy life? Does God know how to impact the world around us with His love… perfectly?

Of course, we all know the answers to these questions. The point is that this is exactly what is available for each and every believer in Jesus.

God-within-us

In salvation, God the Almighty comes to live within us. Think about that for a moment…

He does not come just to fellowship with us (which is wonderful), or to deal with our messes, or to make us feel good about ourselves – but to do God kind of things, from within us, in each and every moment of our lives.

That is His goal. That is why Jesus came to die for every sinner in this world.

So every sinner would BE a proper dwelling place for God Almighty.

We, as Christians, are often so fixed on trying to do all the right and godly things (and trying to get everyone else to do them too) – that we miss the whole point of the gospel message. We miss the main reason why Jesus came.

He came to make us His Own. He came to make us suitable for Himself. And He came to live within us – and work though us – so other people could become His vessels too.

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Be vs. Do; pt. 3 – The Futility of Doing

be vs do

November 9

“I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…” (Romans 7:19)

We have been talking about the importance of “being” rather than “doing.” Jesus came to make us new creations – that we could BE new. Righteous. Holy. God-pleasing. Like Jesus. This IS who we are in Jesus… because of Jesus.

The gospel message is that Jesus came to do what we could not do – so that we could be what we could never be without Him.

Jesus put an end to the need for human effort (to be good or righteous) by taking our place – by securing, with His sacrifice, the very thing that all our “righteous” or “religious” efforts could never accomplish.

Blood of Jesus

Human effort (at doing good) never earned us God’s grace… and it never will.

This is a lesson that is so difficult for us as believers. We tend to receive God’s grace (with thanks) – and then go about trying to DO all the things that we think God enjoys. In a sense, all our doing is our effort to earn what we never earned in the first place.

I hear a lot of Christians “connecting” with Paul’s soliloquy in Romans 7. We tend to think that Paul is talking about his experience (and frustration with himself) as he tries to live the Christian life (and fails miserably). “We gotcha Paul. We feel that way too, brother.” We tend to take great solace in the fact that if an apostle of God struggles so mightily with trying to do what is right – then what hope do we have?

missing the mark

But Paul’s words in Romans 7:14-24 are some of the most misunderstood and misquoted verses in all of Scripture!

Paul had an odd way of expressing himself (at times), but what he is really trying to teach us is about the futility of trying to do what is good and right in our own human efforts and willpower. He is not talking about his Christian experience – he is talking about the experience of any person who is consumed with “doing” righteousness… rather than “being” righteous, because of Christ’s work.

In this famous passage, the word “do” is used 18 times (in the NIV) – and never in a positive light. Paul is making a point. Our efforts at “doing” good never accomplish our goal. Our “doing” is a “fleshly” effort to try and please God. Those who are not Christians try and “do” it this way. It is the temptation for Christians to employ the same tactics! Paul voices what everyone who has tried to “do” what is right has experienced: “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

wretched

Our human efforts (even as Christians) can only produce human results. No wonder we fail, so often, to live the way we know we should!

God’s solution to the problem is different (and magnificent!). Jesus came to make us new. But more than that… Jesus came to make us a place of habitation for God Himself. That He could live in us – and work through us. Doing God things. Through our lives. “Christ in us… the hope of glory!” (Col. 1:27)

All because He has done all that was needed to make us to BE something…

His!

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Be vs. Do; pt. 2 – BE God’s Temple

be vs do

November 6

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

God calls us to a life of “being,” not doing. He is not looking for us to do great things for Him – or to expend our energies in trying to get rid of the vices and hang-ups in our lives.

He has called us to embrace our new identity provided in perpetuity through the work of Jesus, on our behalf. Jesus did everything that needed to be done – so we could be everything God wants us to be.

be or do

He did the doing for us. We get to reap the rewards of His efforts.

Unfortunately, “doing” is deeply ingrained in our humanity. We tend to actually want lists to follow, steps to perform, principles to apply, activities to accomplish, rites to observe. Because then, after we have done these type of things, we can feel good about ourselves – like we measure up to God’s standards (or, at least, we are better off than the other people around us). We actually prefer the measuring stick. Because “doing things” gives us the impression that we just might have some measure of control over our acceptance with God.

self-righteous

It is easy for us to reduce the Christian life to “what we do” as the defining factor of our lives. But that is not what God is seeking in us. He is seeking for “what He does” through us – both in the glory He receives for Christ’s completed work… and in His Own work accomplished through our yielded lives.

Jesus came and did all He did (for us) in order to make us a proper vessel for divine dwelling. The work of Christ made us completely ready to receive the indwelling of God, Most High. And from the moment we received Jesus, God (in the Person of the Holy Spirit) came to live in our perfectly prepared hearts.

holy-spirit-clothed

That is why Jesus did what He did for us – and that is what He accomplished completely for us. There is truly nothing left to be done… OR for us to do.

This truth is so essential – and so difficult for us to understand and accept.

The very essence of Biblical faith is resting on what God has done (or in what He has said). Any efforts on our part, to “stir God to action” or to “get God to do something for us” actually has more to do with witchcraft… than godliness.

The work of Christ was to make us a “temple of God… that the Spirit of God dwells in…” When we truly see that this is all God is seeking from us, we can cease striving to gain God’s favor or attention – and just BE His temple place.

temple of HS

That’s what He sent Jesus to do… and that is what Jesus accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection – all for us.

If there is one issue with which we all seem to struggle… it is in these area of who we are in Jesus – because of Jesus.

But this is the good news: The work is done. There is nothing left for us to do.

We are simply called to BE His temple, by faith.

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Be vs. Do

be vs do

November 5

The very foundation of true Christianity involves a remarkable identity change for us who have embraced Jesus and what He has done for us. The New Testament is replete with polar contrasts… what we were (before Jesus) and what we are now (because of Jesus).

This is no small thing. Without this proper foundation of new identity, we will always struggle to live as God would have us live. Why? Because human beings just do not have the ability to live as God intended. We have to see ourselves as more than just “forgiven” or “improved” or “giving it our best effort” – we have to see ourselves as God sees us. And God sees us through the work of Christ. So when we talk about our new identity, God gets all the credit… and we receive all the benefits.

new you

Salvation is ALL God’s work… and God’s work, through Christ, is a complete and a completed work. There is nothing left to be done… except to receive it, by faith.

Jesus was sent, not just to give us a new start… but a new life. He wasn’t just sent to erase our past… but to give us the picture of our new present. He wasn’t just sent to make us better people… He was sent to make us an abode for God’s Own Person. Jesus came so we can live in what He has done for us. He is not forever bringing us into something. He has given us the gift of completeness/wholeness – all because He took our place. He took what we were… to give us what He is. That is what salvation really is, according to the New Testament.

2cor 5 21

The majority of our struggle as Christians is because we are still trying to become what God wants from us. There is that within us that still, stubbornly, seeks to apply our own energy, willpower, and efforts into doing what “God wants us to do.”

But the amazing emphasis of Jesus was just this… “Stop trying to do things to please God and simply believe in Me… and what I came to do for you (see John 6:29!).

We couldn’t do it on our own. Never could. Never will.

So God ended that struggle – by sending the One Who could do, and did, what needed to be done to make us what God wants us to be. Jesus’ work was to change our focus – from human effort – to simply being who God made us to be – from the very moment we turned to Jesus as Our Savior and Redeemer.

Our only role is to apply our faith (also a gift from God) to what Jesus did. To stop trying to “do” our way into God’s grace – and simply “be” the vessels of His grace.

So when we talk about our new identity, as revealed in the New Testament, we see things that, quite frankly, we find difficult to accept. The description of who we are comes with words like righteous, holy, beloved, free, delivered, whole, light, salt, children of God… Things we ARE because of Jesus – NOT things we are trying to do.

who-i-am

What we are leads to what we do. We cannot do enough “good” to ever become what God wants us to be. Thankfully, this is not what God is seeking from us.

If you’re anything like me, this is the area of Christian living to which I find it most difficult to adhere. I find I am often seeking for things to do for God. But God’s intent is that we actually see who we ARE in Him… and the “doing” flows naturally from the “being.”

This is the miracle that was accomplished in fullness, when Jesus became the Lord of our lives.

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Were vs. Are, pt. 7 – Light in the Lord

were vs. are

November 2

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8)

Over the past two weeks we have been talking about the amazing contrast between what we were (before committing our hearts to Jesus) and what we are now because of that love relationship.

Scripture paints the picture that those who receive Jesus (and what He has done) have a new identity. Immediately! We are not gradually becoming something new. We ARE something new – simply by receiving God’s grace, by faith. From the very moment we first receive Jesus.

In-Christ-A-New-Creation

This is the miracle of the new birth. We come from one “realm” of existence, to another. And that new realm is, quite frankly, hard for us to wrap our minds around. That’s why we need our minds renewed. To think in accord with what God has done for us – and provided to us, freely, in the relationship He offers us.

Because of Jesus, we were one thing (sinners, self-consumed) and now we ARE re-created in the image of God (see Ephesians 4:22-24). The difference is night and day.

day-and-night.jpg

Literally.

Our verse for today reminds us that our previous identity was “darkness.” We were darkness. This “darkness” is defined in Scripture, not just as sin (though we had plenty of that) but of confusion, doubt, fear, wrong thinking, and unbelief.

Jesus came to change our darkness into light. To make us righteous… to give us direction and purpose, to fill us with hope and confidence, and to align our thinking with God’s thinking. Now, we ARE light in the Lord. And we are to live each of our days as that light!

That’s what Jesus came to show us. He was the first to declare: “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12; 12:35) And each and every day, He showed us what that meant. Loving people. Helping the helpless. Bringing hope to the hopeless. Living as the living, breathing representation of God… with us.

Receiving God's love 2

But Jesus didn’t just come to BE the Light – He came to impart the light. So that in every generation of souls, the light would be seen. The light would be felt. The light would draw people to The Source of that light. Opening eyes. Changing lives.

That’s how Jesus defined our task as His disciples. And it all begins with an understanding…

“YOU are the Light of the world,” He told us. “A city set on a hill cannot (and should not) be hidden… Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory (worship God as God!) to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

You-Are-the-LotW

The light exists to dispel darkness – but more than that… it exists to bring a true revelation of God. The Source of that light works in, and through, us to bring light to all the sinful, confused, doubting, fearful, and unbelieving – who are trapped in their all-too-human viewpoints about everything.

Without the light no one will ever see the One they need to see…

We must see ourselves as light… right now. Not as becoming the light. But transformed into the light by the Lightgiver. It’s what He came to do for us – to make us to be the light of the world.

Everything we are called to do begins with being the light…

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A Christian Perspective on Halloween

Considering the day, I thought I would take a pause from our “Were vs. Are” Series to offer some thoughts on a day that is quite controversial in Christian circles…

Halloween perspective

October 31

I have a friend who, many years ago, regularly practiced witchcraft. In time, she became born again, and now serves Jesus. But she has more than a few personal insights into the reality of evil intentions that are at work on Halloween night (of which she once participated!). She did not talk about Halloween without sadness in her heart about anyone who would “celebrate” such a night “that demons looked forward to.” Because of her past experiences… what is harmless “fun” for so many… brings up many remorseful feelings and regretful memories.

Why would she feel this way? Perhaps, when we understand the origins of this day, we may understand…

The Origins of Halloween… Many centuries ago, Celtic priests believed/taught that October 31 was when the earth came into closest contact with the spiritual world – and on that day ghosts and witches roamed the earth with special powers to steal, kill, and destroy.

ghosts-and-witches.jpg

Later on, in the Dark Ages, Oct. 31 became a prominent day for casting spells, and of heightened magical powers. This day was a favorite for Black (or Witch’s) Sabbaths.

In the early 800’s, to combat rampant paganism (and to attempt to re-focus people’s thoughts), the Church established All-Saints Day (Nov. 1) and “All-Hallows Evening” (Hallow – e’en!) the night before.

The Origins of Trick or Treat… At first, food was left out in an effort to pacify wandering, evil spirits. Later, Celts dressed up as evil spirits, going from house to house demanding food (treats) to deter mischief (tricks). Later still, children got into the act, dressing up as spirits, going around town, demanding treats… or else!

trick or treat

From the Dark Side… Practicing witches and Satanists still believe Oct. 31 is the most powerful day to draw upon the powers of evil, or cast a spell. They see this night as their night to rule (with the power to steal, kill, and destroy). It is a night of incantations and demonic rituals… including animal and (even) human sacrifices.

Should a Christian “celebrate” or participate in Halloween?

As Christians, we should always consider the origins and the practices of any activity.* How, and why, something began IS important. And why it is “celebrated” now is also important.

Do most people, today, think about the origins of Halloween (as a pagan, even demonic, activity)? Most people could care less.

But Christians are not called to be like most people. We are called to “abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:22) And to “walk by the Spirit and… not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16) And to “walk as children of light… and take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness.” (Eph. 5:7-11)

be the light 2

When we really think about Halloween, we should notice that what is “seen” may reveal things that are “unseen.” Drive around town, look at the extravagant displays in many people’s yards. What do they portray? Often it is demons, witches, specters, tombstones, murder, and death. Clearly, Halloween is a night devoted to fear. To what terrifies us. To what unsettles our souls.

halloween-display

Contrast that with what Jesus talked about. “Do not be afraid… Peace be with you… Come and find rest for your souls.” It seems to me that Jesus came to deliver us from fear and death – not celebrate it. He also came to remind us that we (like Him) are NOT of this world – we are of a King devoted to life, joy, and peace (Jn. 17:14-16)! At the very least, we should prayerfully consider our thoughts concerning Halloween.

All that being said… God is not opposed to us having “fun.” There is even a Scripture that says that He gave us all things for our enjoyment (see 1 Tim. 6:17)!

The key for us, is to always keep the balance of being “in the world, but not of the world.” To make choices in life with one key thought in mind: how do I connect with this world AND also do what honors and pleases God? The one supreme guide for all Christian behavior and activities is always…

1Cor 10 31

It is entirely possible for us to be the Light of the World even on a day/night devoted to darkness. If we choose to participate in Halloween, do it creatively, thoughtfully, in ways that show kindness, generosity, and the love of God to the world at large. Have fun… but, as always, represent Christ!

God is God of every day. October 31 is also a day the Lord has made! As His people, we should do our best to honor Him in every day we live on this earth.

* Back in the early days of the church, the practice of meat sacrificed to idols became a point of great contention/debate within the Church (Romans 14 provides some wonderful guidelines for practicing our faith in controversial issues).

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Were vs. Are; pt. 6 – Whole

were vs. are

October 30

“…By His wounds you are healed.” (1Peter 2:24)

We were once broken. Shattered. Twisted. Beaten down.

Now we are healed. Whole.

The very essence of healing, in the Scriptures, is a return to wholeness. Sickness. Disease. Mental illness. Anxiety. These are all conditions that are not part of the original design of humanity.

We were created whole by our Creator. To be whole. Full of life. Full of health.

But sin opened the doorway to everything that opposes health and life – and we live in a world that is deeply impacted by the effects of sin.

This is why, when Jesus came, healing was such a huge part of His earthly ministry… Reaching out to touch the physically, mentally, and spiritually broken and making them whole again. It is a hallmark of His ministry.

Jesus heals

Because it is a hallmark of the Heart of God.

Matthew reminds us of this in his inspired summary of Jesus’ ministry with the sick, hurting, and demon-possessed. Our Lord came “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” (Matthew 8:17)

Jesus came to the broken, the cursed, the afflicted… and did what God desires to do… make us whole again.

The best description of “salvation” is not forgiven or pardoned – it is “whole.”

This is tremendous news for those of us who have received Jesus and what He has done. He took our “our griefs and carried our sorrows… upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace (shalom!) and by His wounds we are healed.” (Is. 53:4-5)

by his wounds 2

Two things about this prophetic verse from Isaiah…

One) Jesus came to take not only our sins but everything that our sinful condition had produced in our lives. That condition is best described as brokenness. Unrest. Malady. His death procured instantaneous relief from ALL that sin had brought into our lives. He carried it all. It all died with Him.

Two) Christ’s work, in our behalf, secured a new condition for us. Peace! The Hebrew word is “shalom” – and shalom means many wonderful things all at once. It is best defined as “wholeness.” It is the wholeness that takes away our malady, our unrest, and brings us into the wonder of peace!

Because of Jesus… we, who were all “shalomless,” now have shalom. Wholeness.

shalom whole

This is what Peter is saying in our verse for the day. He is reminding us of our new condition bought through the sacrifice of Jesus… shalom. Healing. Health. And the peace that comes from knowing that our Lord has made all the provision necessary for us to BE whole in this life!

But as in all of God’s provisions for us, nothing is automatically applied. We have to access His provisions by our faith. 

Romans 1 17

Faith is the eyes to “see” what God has graciously given us… and the hands to reach out and take what Christ has provided through His immense sacrificial love.

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Were vs. Are; pt. 5 – Holy

were vs. are

October 29

For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Ephesians 1:4)

There are two prominent thoughts expressed in this verse… One) God chose us to be His before He ever created anything. You and I (who love Jesus) were in God’s plans from before the very beginning of those plans. That thought should daily remind us of just how special and precious we are to Him.

Two) He chose us, NOT to do something… but to BE something. His plan (before the “foundation of the world”) was for us to BE “holy and blameless in His sight.” This is the work of Jesus… and Jesus alone. He came to make us holy and blameless in His sight.

Eph 1 4

Holy and blameless is what we ARE. It is not what all our efforts make us. It is not in our performance, or our religious fervor, or in how many good things we do.

God’s work (through Jesus) is His alone, complete and finished… to make us into something we could never be on our own.

Before trusting in Jesus, we WERE sinners. Unholy. Full of blame for all our sinful actions, words, and thoughts. Helpless to be anything other than sinful, unholy, full of blame.

But from before the very beginning, Jesus was to be the means of changing us from one thing into another. Immediately – on receiving God’s Provision for our change.

receive Jesus

Being “holy” is another one of those “things” that is so difficult for us to see in ourselves. It is something we so often struggle to imagine. We know our own thoughts, motivations, issues, and hang-ups. We know that when we look at our own lives… we do not see “holy” or “blameless” in any way, shape, or form.

That’s because we have learned and re-learned to emphasize the identity of the old self within us. The old self struggles. The old self sins. The old self hangs on to grudges. Refuses to forgive. Often thinks of no one but ourselves (most of the time). The old self only knows unholiness – and is powerless to be anything else.

broken_people

But God calls us to a wear a new identity. NOT something we are trying to be. But something we ARE (only) because of the work of Jesus.

Jesus did not come to reform or fix the old self. He came to give you a new self – that is “created to BE like God in true righteousness and holiness.” The work of Jesus made us holy. Not just sans sin. But a new character. Holy and blameless in God’s sight. Something that is truly like God Himself. Something we are… and are to BE.

1Peter 1 16

That’s why nearly all of the letters in the New Testament are addressed to the “saints” in (whatever city or region). “Saints” does not mean the super-spiritual or the ultra-Christians (often what we have been trained that “saints” means)… it means “holy ones” – and that term applies to EVERY person who has received Jesus as Lord.

We do not become holy by our efforts, or our longevity in the faith, or even by doing something miraculous. The Bible says that we are holy from the very moment we turn our hearts to Jesus and make Him the Lord of our lives.

We were sinners. Unholy. But because of Jesus… we are NOW holy in His sight!

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Were vs. Are; pt. 4 – Righteousness of God

were vs. are

October 26

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Scripturally speaking, our salvation is a package deal. Included in the whole package is our forgiveness, our healing, our deliverance (from the power of sin), our freedom (to live in grace rather than law), our justification, our divine protection, and divine blessing. Salvation is all about being restored to a state where God can live in constant fellowship with His people – now that the barrier of sin (and all it’s effect and consequences) have been dealt with (forever!) at the cross.

restored

Salvation not only makes us right… it also makes us righteous. If we don’t understand that truth we will always struggle to live as God meant for us to live.

Jesus came to be the means of the Great Exchange. He took what we were (upon Himself) and gave us what He was, in return.

Today’s verse talks about this exchange. The sinless Son of God was made to be sin on our behalf” – to carry all of our sinful state with Him on that cross.

Jesus-death

As wonderful as that news is, it is not the conclusion of the story. We are forgiven (and delivered from sin) by Christ’s sacrifice – but that was not the end He had in Mind. Phase One was dealing with sin and it’s effects (emptying us out!). Phase Two was imparting into God’s people the very righteousness of God (filling us up!).

Phase Two is described, in Scripture, as the new self

eph 4 24

From the moment we received Jesus, we received everything He was offering to us. His work, on our behalf, was a complete work… completely addressing every need of the human condition. We were sinners. Slaves to sin. Incapable of being anything else. But the work of Jesus ended all that. The work of Jesus not only made us forgiven… it made us righteous!

But the objection is made… “Wait a minute, the Scripture says that ‘we might become’ the righteousness of God. That must mean that we are not righteous, yet. There is the possibility of righteousness… but not without a lot of work, through lots of time, to make us righteous. Right?”

It may certainly seem that way – but the tenses of the word for “might become” refer to an action completed in the past with a potential for full realization in the present. In other words, what Jesus did (in the past, on the cross) accomplished something of which we can take full advantage in our day. And what Jesus did is available in fullness. Not a partial provision. Or a “maybe” provision. Or a gradual provision. A complete provision… made available for us in the now.

Complete-in-Christ

To illustrate: Suppose you and I are best friends. But you are rich and I am poor. Because of our friendship, you want to help me out. So you go to your bank and set up an account in my name – and place a million dollars in that account. Then you make me aware of what you have done for me and remind me that the account will only go into effect when you authorize it, personally. So your generous gift was given so that I “might become” a millionaire – even though your part was already done. What you did for me, would be fully realized when I acted on your kindness.

It is that same way with the righteousness of God. Jesus has already done everything that was needed to live in the fullness of what He has provided. It is up to us to accept what He has done – and live our lives AS the righteousness of God.

In Christ… that is what we ARE!

Posted in Belonging to God, Child of God, Completed Work of Christ, Daily devotional, God's provision, New creation, our identity in Christ, Righteousness | Tagged , , | Leave a comment