Last Sunday at our AGM, we explored the temptation narratives and Jesus' victory over Satan in the wilderness. His victory becomes our victory as through faith, we receive God's abundant provision of grace and God's gift of righteousness (see Romans 5:17). But what exactly is that victory and what does it mean for us to "reign in life"? After all, we may not feel like royalty most of the time, and shouldn't that mean we get to live in palaces?
In Colossians 2:15 we read, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." As well as his resistance to Satan in the wilderness, Jesus also resisted him in the garden of Gethsemane as he faced the "cup of his sufferings" (see Matthew 26:39), crucifixion and death for our sakes. He forgave us all our sins, removing the condemnation effectively disempowering the enemy over us. He liberated us, as the Apostle Paul tells us, from our slavery to sin, so that we would be free to serve Him, rather than ourselves.
So in Christ we are literally "new creation", now fully alive to God through the Spirit. But we still live within this old "tent", our bodies. Spiritually we inhabit the house of God, the only palace worth living in, but our bodies, the story of our lives to date, have trained us to live as mere commoners, even sinners, but that is not who we are anymore. Yes, we once were, in fact Paul tells us that our whole self was "ruled by the flesh" (see Col 2:11). But has all changed, it has been put off, removed, buried with Christ through baptism ... if we would only believe it!
When our bodies want to rule, to dictate our choices, we must be careful. Not everything our body desires is bad, but it can never be in charge anymore. So the way we think, often because of the way others have treated us, must be brought into subjection to truth revealed in Jesus. The pain, anger, fear and shame we carry, it all can seem so alive and powerful, when we allow these to determine our reality and our behavior, then watch out as we have ceased to reign in life through Christ. Faith says that these have been buried with Christ and what God has created in me, is totally new, totally free and totally healed. It is all gift, all grace, and all discovered by looking to Him, the author and perfecter of our faith (cf. Hebrews 12:1-3).
We simply rest in Him, His work, His promises and His provision of power through the Holy Spirit. We learn to see ourselves no longer defined by our story but His, which continues to be written through me as I reign in life. To see Jesus is to see ourselves, and to live today upon the earth is to allow Him to live through us as we abide in Him, listen to His voice and walk in obedience through the Spirit's power, no longer controlled by the old body of flesh. We remember that we are loved, beyond what we can comprehend, and nothing can separate us from His love.
I look forward to our celebrating together in worship this coming Sunday. Remember that Sunday evening there is a combined service at Jericho Road with other believers in the Valley at 6:00pm.
With love and prayers,