These past 2 Sundays I have been exploring Pauls' argument in Romans 6 about how we are to respond to the hypothetical question, 'if sin causes grace to abound all the more, then shall be continue to sin?' Or maybe we might say, shall we allow our sin to somehow magnify God's goodness .. all for the glory of God? Of course for Paul the only answer to this rhetorical question is "Absolutely not!" However, the truth of the gospel seems to go so close to licentiousness, that the question is not totally unreasonable.
We are saved by faith (alone) in the finished work of Christ upon the cross on our behalf. It is not our life but his life that saves us, and the gift becomes ours as we simply trust in Him and invite the Spirit to bring something totally new to birth in us, whereby we become a new creation, a new spiritual being through our union with Christ Jesus, fully alive to God! Sin, and therefore the guilt it brings, is removed "as far as the east is from the west" as the Psalmist says. There is nothing we add or contribute to this for our salvation, we simply rest in Him.
We must also be careful as Paul reminds the Christians in Galatia, not to start with the new birth in the Spirit, but then go back to works of the law, that would be foolishness! (see Gal 3:3) But it can be a great temptation, to either put ourselves down by believing that we somehow don't measure up because of our behavior (we never did so why try now?), or worse, we put others down in judgment for the same reason. God doesn't do this, for to be "in Christ Jesus" is to be one with the only One to satisfy the demands of the law, the only One who is totally perfect ... and this is who God sees when he looks at us. Do you believe and trust in this?
But how can we know if this is true both objectively (for all who believe) and also subjectively (am I "in Christ")? Well in an objective sense we take God's word as truth, both His word expressed in the person of Jesus .. his conception, birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension ... but also in the words of the gospel mystery once hidden but now revealed through the Apostle Paul, how God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself on the cross and that through faith, we become the very righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (see 2 Cor 5:17-21). Thanks be to God for His amazing grace!
Later in that same letter of 2 Corinthians, Paul says the following;
But how do we do that, why would we even need to consider doing that, especially if it is all "by faith alone"? Well for one thing, I believe that our Father in heaven deeply longs that we should have confidence in who we are, and who He is. That we should have an assurance that we belong to Him, that we are loved, cleansed, and fully acceptable without having to even lift a finger to make it true. People who know this for themselves live differently because they are at peace within themselves. God's desire is that we live differently not to impress Him and gain favor or blessing, but exactly BECAUSE we already have favor and are blessed in His Son. What is true of Jesus is true of us in Him, this is the gospel.
John in his letter further identifies a number of ways we can know with certainty and in a subjective sense, that we are indeed a new creation;
We love the brethren (our brothers and sisters in Christ) .. 1 John 3:14
We have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in us .. 1 John 3:24
It is important to remember that this is Jesus' life in us, not our life. We are simply choosing to obey from the new heart and to present ourselves as slaves (really sons) of righteousness for the glory of God. We do all this by faith, expressed as a will yielded to God, and this allows the Holy Spirit to keep transforming us into greater degrees of glory, not our glory but the Father's. This flows from our 'sonship' as co-heirs with Christ through the gospel. May gratitude, thanksgiving and praise to God rise up in our hearts as we ponder God's indescribable gift!
With love and prayers,