For many, the Christian life becomes an endless frustration, where nothing seems to work. Many sincere believers retreat back into the shadows of mediocrity and accept defeat because they are not able to get the truth of the gospel to work in their lives. When someone comes to Christ a few weeks may go by and they will undoubtedly be told that now the hard part begins. They are expected to comply to a list of rules, and told now if they want God to approve and answer their prayers they must get their life in order.
Too many believers are trying to fight a battle that is already won, they are trying to crucify their sin nature which is already dead, they are trying their hardest to live for God when he wants them to allow him to live through them.
The apostle Paul had a past, he had been a terrorist for religion to the extent that he had tried to eliminate the newfound church. However, one encounter with the resurrected Jesus changed everything. He went from being a radical Christ hater to someone who would eventually die a martyr’s death for the sake of Christ. So, what motivated this apostle grace? What allowed him to forget the past and run towards what was ahead? I believe this verse puts Paul’s gospel into perspective.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
Paul believed he was a dead man! He had been crucified with Christ and he no longer lived. You see, at the core of Paul’s preaching what’s the reality that Christ’s death was our death, and Christ’s resurrection was our resurrection. God has no desire to reform the old you or give you a second chance. He wants you to identify yourself in Jesus and together with the apostle Paul take on the belief that says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me,’
The truth about you
Many Christians believe they are just ‘sinners saved by grace’. But that’s not what the gospel declares! You were a sinner, and you were saved by God’s grace. But the moment you were born again you became righteous, you became holy, you have become a saint in Gods eyes. You must change the way you see your-self. If you continue to see yourself as a sinner fighting a battle with your sin nature you will live in constant defeat and frustration. However, if you believe what the Bible declares about you, and you begin to see yourself the way God sees you, you will start to live in consistent victory over sin and defeat.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Rom 6:1-6)
Could it get any clearer! Jesus death was your death, his burial your burial and his resurrection your resurrection into newness of life! Consider this
- When Jesus hung on the cross, God laid you on him.
- Jesus became your sin and you died with him.
- You went into the grave together with him.
- When Jesus defeated the devil, you were right there with him in victory.
- And when Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death, sin and hell that was your resurrection too!
- Lastly when Jesus ascended to the father and sat down, you have been seated with him.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-6)
This is the secret weapon of the gospel. You were included ‘In Christ’ in everything that he accomplished. The devil fears you getting a revelation of this truth because it will make what Jesus accomplished a living reality that changes the way you live.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed…, Eph 1:13 NIV
Empowered by grace
As you begin to grow in your understanding of what it means to be ‘In Christ’ your life will effortlessly begin to look more and more like Jesus. Instead of strain, self-effort and self-motivation you will experience the transformation that Jesus calls ‘easy and light’. By far the greatest changes that have happened in my life have come effortlessly as I believed the gospel and yielded to the grace of Christ. You see Grace is the unmerited and undeserved favor of God, however what it does in our lives is to empower us to live by God’s ability. One theologian defines grace like this.
Grace is God’s power, capacity and ability, which comes through unmerited favor and works from the heart, it is what makes us able to be, do and have what God promises.
God’s grace is a qualifier and an empowerer. His grace gives you the power and capacity to say no to sin and to live the kind of life that God desires for you. This comes naturally as you begin to see yourself righteous in Him. Here is the key.
Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, (Rom 5:20)
The law represents any system, or performance based religion we try to keep to earn God’s blessings. The purpose of God’s law was to destroy our self-righteousness and cause us to see our need for a Savior. The law makes sin abound in us! The law is good, however apart from the empowerment of grace we can’t keep it. Living life under a system of religious rules will end in frustration and defeat. Nothing stops the work of grace in your life like a self-righteous and legalistic attitude. This was the purpose of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Multiple times in the letter he delivered very clear warning to the young church to rely upon and yield to the grace of God.
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. (Gal 2:21)
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace (Gal 5:4)
To ‘set aside’ the grace of God or ‘fall from grace’ has nothing to do with losing your salvation. It happens when we attempt to be made right with God by our own works and resist the ability of God through grace. It happens when we trust in our own righteousness and not the gift of righteousness through faith.
Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:20-21)
What does it mean ‘grace reigns through righteousness to eternal life?’ It means that God’s grace gets activated in our lives through knowing we are righteous by faith apart from our works. To the degree that we receive and believe the truth of faith-righteousness, God’s grace and ability is released in our lives to qualify us and make us able to live the eternal life in Christ Jesus. Living in victory over sin comes down to knowing you are righteous and receiving the grace of God to help you live free from sin. As the above scripture says, ‘where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.’ No sin is a match for the life transforming power of grace at work in you.
For far too long the church has taught you have to ‘live right’ to please God. The only problem with this is that when we have focused on ourselves and our sin it becomes literally impossible to overcome those areas in our lives. Whatever you focus on becomes bigger in our eyes. Focus on your problem and your problem will grow. That’s why the bible says to ‘Magnify God.’ When you take the focus off of you and your mistakes and instead focus on Christ’s amazing grace and how God calls you righteous without doing one thing right. Guess what! Sin will lose its hold over your life. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.(Rom 6:14) Grace is not an excuse to live in sin, quite the opposite, it is only through grace that you will receive power to get free from sin and ant other destructive habit.
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:17)
The abundance of God’s grace and the gift of righteousness are not earned or achieved they are received by faith. They will become your source of empowerment to reign in life. Your journey as a believer should not be one of frustration and defeat. As you grow in the realization of the grace of God and Christ’s finished work in your life, you will go from faith to faith and from one victory to another.