“If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come…”
Wow. Where to begin?
I’ve been spending a lot of time with God lately. When I learned that the quick peek-a-boo Bible check before I went to sleep wasn’t working, I decided to begin putting God at the beginning of my day. The next 24 hours weren’t always peachy, but they were definitely better because I’d already been reminded of the power of Christ and the purpose for my life.
I had also been reading the Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy. If you know your Bible, I highly recommend this book to you! If not, spend time reading God’s word first. The bravehearted-ness will do you little good if you don’t know the Gospel! Anyhow, in this book Eric Ludy poignantly shares how effeminate we have allowed the presentation of the Bible to become. He writes how there is an overwhelming over-emphasis on the love of God, the mercy of God, the gentleness of God…and a failing contrast of the power of God, the holiness of God, and deliverance from the wrath of God.
Now this has had me thinking! First of all, we as Christians—we want “more God” right? We want more of God’s love, right? Okay, but what is God’s love? What does it look like to love the way Jesus loved? Our version of “love” is no more than a sappy, soppy, putrid solution designed to make others feel good about themselves, and gloss over their un-confessed sin! The way I too often see “Christian love” portrayed, especially amongst youth, goes something like this: “I tell you you’re beautiful and loved, that God LOVES you, oh, and I will show you how cool it can be as a Christian.” Followed by hugs and tears galore.
Alrighty, I’m really not a coldhearted person. I love hugs. I cry a lot. And I honestly do want people to “feel” loved! I really do. However, I also want to love the way Jesus loved, and I need to do so according to His definition.
First of all, we love others because Christ loved us, right? (Right.) “And this is love, that God demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Okay okay. Christ died for us. Our sins are forgiven. Hallelujah—we’re gonna go to heaven!
Ahhhh but there is SO MUCH MORE that we don’t realize! That I haven’t realized, until just the other day, and it is still sinking in. First of all, Jesus’ primary goal in coming down to earth was not to save you and take you to Heaven. Get this out of your head right now. No, Jesus’ first and foremost task was to glorify His Father. He did so by setting an example, as a human, of how humans are to live before their God. He glorified God by becoming sin for us and conquering death, thus restoring our relationship to God, thus providing a way for us to go to heaven.
HE BECAME SIN FOR US.
I was listening to Paul Washer’s “Ten Indictments” (in-dite-ments) yesterday, and he was talking about how when Jesus was in the garden and begged God, “May this cup pass from me,” He was not merely referring to the physical pain and agony. Rather, Jesus, the spotless, blameless, embodiment of purity itself, the holy Son of God, was having thrust upon Him the weight of every single sin…past, present and future…
How dare we think that the cross was ONLY about us?! But we do think that way. And we act that way. And when we do that, it is to our shame.
Another thing Washer mentioned that stood out to me…something I hadn’t thought of before…is that when Jesus has been crucified and is hanging on the cross, right before His final breath, God turns His face away, forsaking His own son. What Washer pointed out, is that we often think the reason God turned away is because He couldn’t bear to see the pain inflicted on Jesus. But no! It was because Jesus had become the sin, Jesus became the propitiation, and in order for sin’s power to be abolished, in order for God to do away with sin’s grip on His people forever, God Himself must remove His face from it.
At which point we hear Jesus cry out, “Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabachthani?” Translated, meaning “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken me?”
Jesus came to accomplish His Father’s will. Every action He did, He did through the power of the Father. Every word He spoke proceeded from the mouth of God. He loved with the love of the Father. Jesus came to demonstrate, in human form, how we as humans ought to live.
Yet when we tell others how to be a Christian—meaning, how to follow Christ’s example—we do it so poorly. This is how I commonly see “Christians” living, as if the following was what was told to them:
“Well, you don’t really have to change your life very much to be saved. All you do is avoid watching R movies, refrain from saying ‘oh my god’ and, for the ladies, make sure your shirts cover enough in the right places. Really, as long as it’s not too evil-looking or not that sexual, I mean, there’s this freedom in Christ thing where we don’t have to be too picky about things in our life. Jesus loves you!”
Do you really believe that Jesus loves you? If so, you have to believe that He demonstrated His love for you…and if you believe that, you have to believe that you have sinned and by that nature have fallen short of the glory of God. And if you decide to accept His love, you also ought to realize that, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.”
See, the crucifixion didn’t just end with the death of Jesus. If so, that’s great, He just died a martyr. Anyone can do that. But because He is FULLY God, death couldn’t hold Him! So Jesus came back in the resurrected body, conquering death and demolishing the stronghold of sin. In doing so, His body was made new and pure, symbolizing the new life we have through Him!
And then…get this…and THEN…when we accept Him into our hearts, He gives us a deposit of what is to come, He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide our lives and convict our hearts, so that we stay strong ‘til we reach the goal of our faith—the salvation of our souls! Is this not the most exciting news ever?!
It should be!
But sadly, we have let it not be. We masquerade as followers of Christ, wearing His name…some proudly, some ashamedly…and yet in reality we are followers of self. We do what we want, when we want to. We say what we want to say, how we want to say it. We live how we want to live. We obey when we want to obey. This should not be so!
WE ARE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. We are the precious, beautiful church that Jesus Christ died for and will present as spotless and holy at His coming.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer asking “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” –but we are not living God’s kingdom here on earth!
Jesus came to banish sin, to cast off our entanglements with it and do away with it—and we’re trying to gather it all back up, or retain our little favorite sins, whilst shouting “Jesus loves you” to passersby. Jesus took on the sins of the world so we might be forgiven—and yet we are clinging to our favorite sins and trying to hide them from His notice. Jesus was beaten, insulted, whipped and had nails pounded through His hands and feet in the name of LOVE—in the name of freeing us from sin.
Every single sin. The sin that occurs when my eyes fall upon something they oughtn’t. The sin that is conceived when a deceitful thought forms in the mind, and the sin that is born when the mouth speaks falsely. The sin of men with pornography addictions, the sin of women with pornography habits. The obvious sins of murder and abuse, the often silent sins of adultery or idolatry or hatred. All these and more were in the burden that Christ willingly received on our behalf, so that His Heavenly Father might be glorified, and that we might be forgiven—and thus restored to a relationship with God.
AND WE PREFER TO SIT IN OUR SIN AND ENJOY IT.
How dare we take the name of the LORD so vainly?
This is only the beginning of how my life has been turned around. I am realizing, as Oswald Chambers said, that my sin is not merely the action of disobeying God, but rather the putrid, foul act of setting myself up as my own god. I become my own idol, and God clearly said, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Jesus came to free me from the bondage of obeying sin as my master. I live in a sinful world and daily have to battle sin, but it is no longer my tyrant. What sickens me, though, is that Jesus came to set an example for me to live—and yet I mix and match His example with my own modifications. I obey as I choose. I give of myself when I feel like it, I speak up for the Gospel when I’m comfortable doing so.
This is not what Jesus died for. He died to free me from being the slave of sin, the slave of my own mastership. And how dare I call myself a Christian when I am not following the example of Christ?
My life has totally been emptied out, dumped onto its head, stomped upon, pressed flat, poked at, prodded, chiseled around…and is beginning to now have the breath of Life in it. The verse I keep quoting, about being a “new creation” in Christ, used to not make sense to me. As I was telling Mom this morning, “I mean, I never had a drinking problem! I was never a lesbian and then got, like, converted or something!” I never had anything that I deemed “so bad” that made me naturally unworthy of heaven’s citizenship. But the Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Even me. And I praise Him that He is finally showing me huge, glaring segments of my life that are entirely repulsive to Him, and we shall be working on those!
Which leads me to something else. I use the phrase “how dare we” quite often. As in, “how dare we say we’re Christians when we are not representing Christ?” Well, it’s presented in an interrogative format, with two possible answers. 1) We realize that we are living wrongly and fix it, or 2) We just stop calling ourselves Christians. If you are really and truly saved, by the power vested in me I urge that you get your life straightened out. This is not being judgmental or legalistic. This is called “rebuking with all authority”. We are commanded to be holy as Christ is holy. And as believers we are called to encourage and rebuke each other, with the authority given us in the Holy Spirit. If I am in need of a rebuking, it is my responsibility to accept it willingly.
I have much more to say, but it needs to simmer a bit more in my brain. In the meantime, we know what needs to be done. Let’s do it.
So I charge you, as a fellow believer: Where do you stand with Christ?
And I charge you, if an unbeliever: Where do you stand with Christ?
I charge you as I charge myself.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
– 1 Peter 5:6-11
*soli deo gloria*