Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

01 September 2009

Justification

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

And this is what John Stott says about that wonderful verse in his commentary* from the "Bible Speaks Today" series.

We are 'justified in Christ.' That is, our justification takes place when we are united to Christ by faith. And someone who is united to Christ is never the same person again. Instead, he is changed. It is not just his standing before God which has changed; it is he himself – radically, permanently changed. To talk of his going back to the old life, and even sinning as he pleases, is frankly impossible. He has become a new creation and begun a new life...

...Once we have been united to Christ in His death, our old life is finished; it is ridiculous to suggest that we could ever go back to it. Besides, we have risen to a new life. In one sense, we live this new life through faith in Christ. In another sense, it is not we who live it at all, but Christ who lives it in us. And, living in us, He gives us new desires for holiness, for God, for heaven. It is not that we cannot sin again; we can. But we do not want to. The whole tenor of our life has changed. Everything is different now, because we ourselves are different. See how daringly personal Paul makes it; Christ 'gave himself for me.' 'Christ…lives in me.' No Christian who has grasped these truths could ever seriously contemplate reverting to the old life.

* "The Message of Galatians" by John R. W. Stott BST pp.65-66

2 comments:

Sharon said...

John Stott is right, and yet, there are times when I do want to sin. Or at least, I reminisce not exactly fondly, but at least with fleshly yearning, for those times before I was a Christian when I sinned unthinkingly. But at the same time, I now know I shouldn't sin and I honestly don't want to. It is a strange conundrum that I am coming to recognise more and more in my life. I can't just sin without feeling the depth of my guilt anymore, without struggling with remorse. And so I can't sin willingly, unhesitatingly, wantonly as I did before, when I was headed at a flat out run for destruction.

Now, there are times when the weight of my desire to sin is so present it is almost like a thick fog that I struggle through. And yet, I am keeping on through that fog, with God's help, because I know that my Saviour lives in me and through my resistance of temptation He is shaping me into the holy vessel that He desires me to be: conformed to His shape, not my old one.

One of the things that reassures me that my faith is real is the intense hate I feel for my own sinfulness. I never felt that way before I was a Christian, even if at times I did feel a little guilt. So even in those days when I struggle most with the sad knowledge of my own sinfulness, I also rejoice the most because I know the depths of my Saviour's love for me most intimately.

~ Sharon

Meredith said...

Amen Sharon.
Thank you.