Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Living According to Who You Are in Christ

I was listening to the radio this morning while paying my bills. The guest was James Brian Smith, author of "The Good and Beautiful God".  I was struck by what he had to say.

So often we are told we are sinners saved by grace and that is true.  But so many preachers don't go on to tell Christians who they are in Christ. They are saints. The Apostle Paul writes to the saints in his epistles.  We are told in Scripture that we are new creatures in Christ.

 Romans 1:7
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because the emphasis is so often that we are sinners saved by grace and it ends there, people live according to the identity that they are a sinner.  They continue to sin  because they believe they are sinners, and sinners sin. They believe they are helpless and can't stop, therefore they find themselves in a cycle of besetting sins that they can't get out of.  They have no victory in their lives.  They are working at the level of their own sheer will power to defeat sin.

As sinners saved by grace, we need to live in the reality that we are new creatures in Christ.  Who are you in Christ?  You are a saint in Christ.  Therefore, live in that reality. The work is done on the level of keeping Christ ever before us, not on the level of trying by our own will to not sin.

For example, lets say you have a problem with swearing.  Would you swear in front of your godly grandmother?  NO!  So you can control when and where you swear.  Therefore, if you always keep Christ before you, you will not want to sin.  So the work is done on the level of always keeping Him before you in all you do.  Would you swear knowing He is beside you?  NO!  He is beside you, so you need to keep that reality before you and then you will not want to sin.

Proverbs 15:3 [Full Chapter]

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

A lot of people make excuses for their behavior by saying, "Well, I am just a sinner saved by grace."  Think of the butterfly.  It was once a worm before it became a butterfly.  Saying, "Well, I am just a sinner saved by grace is like the butterfly saying, "I'm just a worm with wings."

If you always find your identity as a sinner, then you are going to sin.  But if you find your identity in Christ as a saint, you will realize that you do not have to sin.  This isn't sinless perfection by any means.  We still have remaining sin that will tempt us, but we do not have to cave to it and keeping Christ before us will help us not to cave.

Matthew Henry said, "Meekness, in the school of the philosophers, is a virtue consisting in a mean between the extremes of rash excessive anger on the one hand, and a defect of anger on the other; a mean which Aristotle confesses it very hard exactly to gain. Meekness, in the school of Christ, is one of the fruits of the Spirit."

I think what Matthew Henry said fits quite nicely with what I heard on the radio today.  Too many Christians are trying to live in the school of the philosophers instead of in the school of Christ and that is why they have no victory over sin in their lives....me included.


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