The Christian life is supposed to be a life of forgiveness, freedom, and grace. Salvation is simply a gift to be received. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin; past, present, and future sins. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Easy street! Who wouldn’t want to sign up for this life?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
Life in the Spirit
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (Romans 8:1-3 ESV)
We are no longer slaves to sin. No longer bound by those chains. We are free in Christ. Free to do good works which He has prepared for us to do. We are to work out our salvation through a process called sanctification. God loves us enough to save us and to not allow us to stay in the condition in which He found us. He wants to change our hearts and mold our character to become more like that of Christ Jesus.
Some people only want to be saved. They don’t want to be sanctified. This sanctification process can be long and painful. It requires sacrifice and the carrying of our cross. It implies that I am not good enough in my current condition. And if we are really honest with ourselves, we will agree with that. It is only because of the perfection and righteousness that Jesus gave me in return for my sins that I may enter into God’s holy presence. Scripture tells us that God will take our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. It says that we are to be holy like God is holy. We are to be perfect because He is perfect. This sounds impossible. With man it is. But with God all things are possible.
We are to seek Him. We are to know Him. We are to follow Him.
Because He isn’t physically alive with us now for us to watch and learn, He gave us His Holy Spirit to teach us and to remind us of His word. He gave us His Holy Word to reveal to us who He is and to show us His great plan for the world. He has poured out His love for us in many countless ways. It is this great love, His great sacrifice to save us, that motivates us to draw closer to God. And when we do that, He promises that He will draw closer to us.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:6-8 ESV)
When God does His part and we do our part, God gets all the glory and eternity is changed forever. The tricky bit is figuring out what part is our part. His Holy Word shows us how we are to live in order to please God.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17 ESV)
Rest in Him. Strive and press on toward the goal. Be still and know that I am God. Always be ready and watchful. You are saved by faith alone. Without works, faith is dead. We are to hold these dichotomies together in perfect balance. This is where our deep need for God’s Holy Spirit resides.
Here is how I understand it and do my best to live out this tension in His Word. I read God’s word daily, studying it and searching the scriptures to answer my questions and to understand His plan. I pray throughout my days that God will give me wisdom and strength. I ask for forgiveness as I sin pretty much every day. I worship Him and thank Him as I am grateful for all that He has given me; the good and pleasant things as well as the trials and the pain – I grow best in those latter seasons. I trust Him with all circumstances because I know His plan, and I know He alone is sovereign. THEREFORE I can rest in Him. Those things that are out of my control (which is pretty much everything) I trust into His hands and I rest. I am still watchful and ready for Him to return. And in the meantime, He has work for me to do, with great humility and sacrifice, to bring glory to His great name and to benefit His kingdom.
My faith in Jesus as God’s only son has saved my soul from eternal death. My sanctification is how God and I, in cooperation with His Holy Spirit, change who I am to become more like Jesus. He is pruning away the unnecessary and equipping me for good works. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
We can never repay Jesus for what He did for us. But out of our great love for God, we are willing to obey His call on our lives to the best of our abilities. Great peace and rest are found in Him. Be encouraged. Rest in Him and press on beloved. Press on.