Have you sinned against God? We all have! Did you feel shame and guilt for what you did? Been there. Done that, too! If you didn’t, that’s a problem. Did you wish for a way out from under your yoke of slavery to sin? I did, and I hope you did, too, or that you do. Did someone share with you the way out from your slavery (addiction) to sin? I hope so, and I hope you took it. I did.
Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? I am! Do you know what it means to be a follower of Christ? I hope so. Are you walking in fellowship with him, following him wherever he leads you, and doing what his Word teaches us? I hope your answer is “Yes.” If not, I surely hope you will. It is the ONLY way!
The Lord Jesus led me to read Ephesians 1 (Select vv. ESV).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Vv. 3-4
Did you know, as a believer in Jesus Christ, that you were chosen in him even before God created the world? We are in Christ, by faith in him, because he chose us, called us, drew us, and persuaded us to believe in him. And, then because we believed; because we had a heart response that said “Yes” to Jesus Christ, and to his will and purpose for our lives.
But, did you also know what we were chosen for? It wasn’t just for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. It was that we should be holy and blameless before him. So, how does that happen? How are we made blameless in his sight?
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Vv. 7-10
We can’t be holy and blameless before God apart from faith in Jesus Christ. None of us is righteous in our own merit, not one! We have all sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. So, there is nothing we can do, in and of ourselves, to earn or to deserve God’s divine approval.
We also could not ever be holy and blameless before God if Jesus Christ, God the Son, had not left his throne in heaven, come to earth, taken on human flesh, and died on a cross for our sins, and been raised back to life.
So, what happened when he died? He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). Thus, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When he rose from the dead, he rose victorious over our sins, and Satan, and death. He conquered the power of Satan and sin, which was holding us in prison, so that we could be set free from slavery (addiction) to sin, and so we could walk in his righteousness.
Although we were separate from God, due to the sin of Adam, in the Garden of Eden, Jesus, through his shed blood on a cross, bought us back for God, i.e. he redeemed us, so that now we can be in true fellowship with God.
So, what does it take to have this applied to our lives? And, what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?
What I can tell you is that faith in Jesus Christ is not a mere intellectual assent to who he is/was, and to what he did for us in dying for our sins, and in being resurrected from the dead. It is also not an emotional decision we make just because we want to escape hell and go to heaven when we die. It is also not mere words we repeat after someone in a prayer, after which we are congratulated that we are now part of the family of God, and guaranteed that heaven is our eternal resting place (home).
So, what is faith? With respect to our salvation, the Bible teaches that it is surrender to God, a yielding of our lives over to Jesus Christ, and leaving our old lives of sin behind us to follow Jesus Christ with our lives. Thus, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, and we are resurrected to new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66; Ac. 26:16-18; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 2:20).
So, when we trust him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, to deliver us from both the punishment of and slavery to sin, we are born again of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus. We are made righteous, holy and blameless in Christ Jesus by God’s grace, through Jesus Christ’s blood shed for us on a cross, and through our faith in him. But, as we see from these verses above, this is not just positional righteousness, but it is to be lived out in our lives, in the power of the Spirit, on a daily basis.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Vv. 11-12
Many people will tell you that “being saved” just means that Jesus took the punishment for your sin, so you would be free from that punishment, so you’d be forgiven your sins, and so now you have the hope of heaven when you die. Some of them will also tell you that God requires nothing of you – no submission, no repentance (turning from sin) and no obedience. And, that is because they equate these things with works-based salvation.
But, if we study the scriptures, we soon learn that the first part of this is only a half-truth, and the second half of this is an outright lie.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). It teaches us that he died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). And, it teaches us that he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the Spirit, but according to the flesh. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17).
As well, his grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt or without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).
This is the purpose of his will, to which we have been predestined, that we might walk in holiness and righteousness, and not just be positionally made righteous by God’s grace, through faith in Christ. It is also that we might be to the praise of his glory, not just because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, or in our lives in delivering us from our slavery to sin, but because of what he does in our lives every day in empowering and in strengthening us to live godly, holy and righteous lives, pleasing to him.
I Sing of His Mercy / An Original Work
Based off Psalm 32 / April 10, 2014
Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven
By the blood of Jesus Christ.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does
Not count against them; freedom found.
When, in silence, I did not confess
My sin to You; had no strength.
Then I owned up to my sin and
You forgave and cleansed me within.
Therefore let the godly pray to You;
Draw near to You; grace they’ll find.
They will not be o’ertaken by afflictions,
But in Christ peace abounds.
Lord, You are my hiding place.
I find my refuge in You secure.
You protect me from all evil.
You give songs of vict’ry in You.
Lord, You teach me to walk in Your ways;
Counsel me in love, I know.
Help me to not be stubborn and
Unwilling to follow in Your truth.
Thank You for Your love and mercy.
I put my trust in You always.
I rejoice in my Lord and
I sing of Him throughout all my days.
Thursday, December 14, 2017, 5:39 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for your love and grace, for your life given for us on a cross, so that we could be free from addiction to sin, and so we could be free to walk in your holiness. Amen!