I have been reading a book that I thought might be helpful in discipling people. But I was disappointed. The foundational belief of that book is that we are "sinners saved by grace". This teaching has become so common that it's accepted as true. I have realized through much searching, that it's not true, though most of my Christian life, I thought it was true. And I struggled for years because of it. I believe we have been misled by this teaching. We certainly were sinners saved by grace. But we are no longer sinners. Now we are saints. As Paul says to the Corinthian church: Such were some of you, but you were washed....
I also believed that I had two natures within me that battled against each other. I was taught this doctrine as a young Christian and it affected me for years. I used to read the NIV translation of the Bible and the way Romans 7 was translated and commentary misled me. Now I see that this doctrine is also false. We do not have two natures that battle against each other. We are new in Christ. The old is gone. The old me, the me that was born onto this planet from the seed of Adam, has been crucified with Christ. We have one nature and it is new and righteous (2 Cor. 5:17,21).
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Gal. 2:20,21)
Now it is Christ who lives in me, in the new creation that I am. I am new. Now. I'm not trying to be new. I just am new. Once I fully believed this truth, it transformed everything. This is the reality of who we really are in Christ. Christ is sufficient. He accomplished in Himself, what we could never do. It's by grace we have been saved. Not by any work of ourselves and it is never from any work of ourselves. Now we focus on the unseen reality where we truly reside. We are citizens of heaven and our Father is God. We fix our minds on the things above, not on earthly things because we have died and our life is hidden in Christ. Jesus is our life.
As I was reading that book, I knew the author sincerely wants to help people be free. It's a noble quest. It's important. We want to live free. We were created to live free. But I believe the Truth is that we are in fact free. Just as Apostle Paul said to the Galatian church, "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." There is nothing we can do to make ourselves more righteous than we are already are in Christ right now. We have been given a new spirit and a new heart that is clean and pure. Our hearts are not desperately wicked. We, as the new creation in Christ, have never sinned. We are without blemish or stain. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit and our inheritance is sure. We will be presented to God holy and without blame. He has made us complete in Christ and is making us complete as this righteousness works out through our thinking and behaviours.
God resides in our spirit, pouring Himself through us by His Holy Spirit, filling us, counseling us, leading us, rebuking us, teaching us. He is continually working out his righteousness in and through us. And He has given us everything we need for life and godliness now. So why do we still seem to struggle?
I believe it's because we miss some central teaching. We fail to understand that the old is truly gone and that what remains is flesh. But that the flesh is not us. Sometime I want to write about Romans 5-8 because those chapters are so incredibly helpful to understand these things. I read them over and over again, and I believe that God helped me to understand some things that have changed my whole life. But today I'll just touch on Romans 6.
In Romans 6, we see that we have died with Christ, that the body of the sins of the flesh might be done away with. Because we died with Christ, we have seen set free from the power of sin. I used to think that sin meant behaviour, like doing bad things. I have learned that sin means independence from God. Not bad behaviour. Sins are independent acts that we do. We have been set free from this independence from God. He has connected us to Himself and we now abide in Him. We are not sinful in the core of who we are, in our spirit. We are connected, abiding and free. We have the fullness of God in us now. So we have truly died with Christ and we have truly been made new. Sin is no longer our master. We do not have to do anything independent of God again.
Another central teaching is circumcision. In Romans 2, we see that we have been circumcised not by human hands, but in the spirit in our heart. We have been circumcised away from the body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:11). This reality is expressed and parallels Romans 6:5,6:
" For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."
God cut is away from the body of sins of the flesh through the death of Christ. And He raised us up in His resurrection life. The purpose of God circumcising us was to set us free from sin, so we would no longer be slaves of sin. Christ dealt with sin once for all. And we benefit from what Christ did now. But what we believe is very important. If we believe that we are still slaves to sin or that we are "sinners," we will continue to struggle with sin. The problem is with what we believe only. Because the truth is that we are free in Christ. If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. A slave does not abide in the house, but a son abides forever. You have been made a son of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and He has set you free. He has made you new. He has made you the righteousness of God in Christ.
Why do I attempt to write these things? Why write a blog? Why communicate these truths? Because I am now so free in Christ and so filled with joy. God has revealed to me, much to my dismay, that I have always been free since the moment I surrendered to Christ. But I did not understand these things. And I struggled for years. I think there are many people who may not understand these things either. That's why I attempt to write. Though I'm not sure that what I'm writing is clear, I am attempting to express it. Because I am hoping that perhaps God will speak and He will reveal the truth to someone who is struggling the way I used to struggle, and they will walk in joy and freedom in Christ.
God is so worthy of all praise and honor and glory. He has done such an amazing thing in Christ. So complete. The work is finished. We are righteous beings in Christ. We are spirit beings who are housed in a body that is still prone to independence. We are sealed by God and filled with Him and we have everything we need to live a godly life here and now. I am so incredibly grateful to be free.
Have you struggled to have joy? Have you prayed for peace? Have you prayed that God would make your heart clean because you didn't feel clean? You don't understand why you keep struggling after you are a Christian? Are you sick of the struggle? The answer lies in what you are believing. I truly believe that it's as simple as that. The gospel is simple and clear, yet we fail to believe it because of how we feel. Then we act on those feelings and we walk in dysfunction and we think that that is reality. When really it is not. It is really flesh.
If the Son sets you free you are free indeed.