The greatest liberty one can experience is that which we have in Christ. Jesus did in fact come and he took away not just my sins, nor just yours, but the sins of the world. So you may in fact ask the obvious question, “Why is sin such a problem then? After all we see the effects of sin constantly revolving around us.” This a is very valid and true statement but the manifestation of sin in our lives does not come from the power of sin itself but merely from our lack of understanding of our righteousness in Christ. I want to touch on several things about sin so that you can rest assured that sin is not your issue as a believer but what you believe is.
To start with it is important to know and understand that people often think that they are defined by what they do and because they believe it it becomes their false reality. The fact is we are designed to function from what we believe and not by what we do. People who have not received the forgiveness of God that comes by accepting Jesus and his finished works have no problem resting in who they believe they are. Specifically what I mean is one who is not a believer in Christ goes about doing what is known as sin without any great effort because to them it is just a part of their identity. Even those who seek help in many occasions are never really set free because they are labeled by what they want to overcome. An alcoholic goes to AA and is told that they will always be an alcoholic and are encouraged to acknowledge themselves in just such a fashion. “Hello, my name is Whoever, and I am an alcoholic.” This is just total crap because by making this part of ones identity they can never get past it. But a believer has been given a new identity in Christ and therefore their quality of life can instantly change upon understanding what their new identity is.
A believer is not a sinner saved by grace though they may have sinned before receiving forgiveness through Jesus. No a believer is a saint, who sometimes because of not fully understanding their identity may occasionally make poor decisions, but it is always a decision to sin. It is not as in the days prior to the death of Jesus for the atonement of sin where sin entered one out of desire from within their heart and they had to fended off by willpower, also known has behavior modification which is commonly practiced today even in most Christian churches. Jesus overcame sin for us because man was constantly susceptible to giving in to sin.
Today sin has been defeated and one who is in Christ can choose not to sin, but the strength to make this choice easier rests in resting in God and receiving His grace. It is the grace of God which is the empowering force enabling one to experience the quality of life that God desires for us to each have. Paul taught us that the Law empowered sin and one way that this occurred is that the Law clearly defined sin, it gave it substance and Jesus clarified the Law that the Law is not just a physical action but violation of the Law starts with in the heart. In much the same way this is one way that the grace of God empowers us because it defines for us the righteousness we have received in Christ and empowers our heart to persuaded of the truth of how God sees us which is our identities in Christ.
If we struggle in this world it is only because we have not fully believed who we are in Christ and freely received His forgiveness. I can humbly say that I am learning to accept who I am based on who God alone says I am, not anyone else or even trying to receive my identity from things I have done. This has made the changes in my life effortlessly and though I am still growing in the revelation of the totality of who I am in Christ it remains effortless. There is no behavior modification tricks or the struggle of dealing with willpower or searching my inner soul for peace. In fact any change that we make to our lives through our own efforts is only going to last as long as we are willing to work at it and your life currently is proof of that. This has been a red flag to me as to whether or not the fruit that I have experienced in my life thus far was born out of intimacy with God and resting in Him or if it was just something that I tried to carry out on my own.
This revelation is not new but has been lost and as it re-emerges to be more common I believe the gospel will once again become a beautiful message that will entice the hearts of many. Just as Paul preached to all the known world in his time of ministry and was accused of turning the world upside down because how the sheer volume of people believing, I believe that when the gospel has Paul and the others taught is shared this world will again be turned upside down by the love of God. Many may say that the gospel has been taught since the first century church but I would greatly disagree with that. Even in the scriptures Paul warns the church about another gospel which is not really another gospel but a perversion of the truth. Jesus put it simply that you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. This is quite effortless and yet much of what we hear today being taught as the gospel does not set us free but only simply exchanges the bondage that one is experiencing. The real gospel of Jesus will set you free and empower you, to this I can bear witness.
A wonderful fruit of all this is once you fully understand that sin is not an issue and you really start to experience your identity in Christ then the old you who was so judgmental about everyone else did ceases to exist. Paul literally said that he judged no one and in fact he did not even judge himself. Why? Because he saw everyone has God sees them. Some still lost to the fact of the forgiveness that has been extended to them and their righteousness in Jesus. Others only receiving some insight but getting lost in the world of religion. But all have the same opportunity to freely receive and experience the life that they were created for. This creates a passion not to condemn and judge but to save by loving and encouraging others and revealing the truth about their identity as children of God. It gets harder and harder for me every day to see someone in some sort of pain or turmoil and not drop everything to see if I can help. You may ask, “Well why not go ahead and do that?” I am growing still is one reason and another that I learned very quickly is not everyone wants help all the time. I do try to encourage as often as I can but I realize after going through the scriptures and seeing that in most cases those who received help, got it because they were seeking it. There are not many where either Jesus or any disciple just arbitrarily started revealing the Kingdom of God to people.