When we encounter our consistent difficulties in living out the Christian life as Christ intended, one of the reasons is our lack of understanding of who and what we are “in Christ.” It often saddens me to the core to hear genuinely sincere followers of the Christ speak of themselves as “miserable sinners” or “totally depraved humans.” We speak of humanity as if we were some sort of low-grade pond scum without merit or moral fiber. What’s worse is the reality that this stilted, sinful (yes, I said sinful) view of our station as human beings has been foisted upon the church not by its enemies or other faith systems, but instead, by many of its own leaders and teachers. I find this especially shameful.
As redeemed and spiritually reborn persons, our humanity is our crowning glory. Born from above, we have been restored to the pristine glory that God originally intended for us. God has done this for us through the being, the mission, the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ. Further, he has provided everything we need in order to lead a godly life (see 2 Peter 1:3) and for us to not claim this renewed life and all that it implies is sacrilege in its most rebellious form. In essence, through Christ God has restored us to righteousness and this gift of right standing with the Father is eternal. What we have to grasp is the fact that we are right now, at this very moment, as pure and as righteous as we are ever going to be. We have to be because the Father’s unfathomable holiness could not tolerate our presence at his right hand, where scripture tells us we now reside with Christ. Andrew Farley, in his great little book entitled The Naked Gospel tells us:
We find it difficult to grasp the idea that God calls us righteous because we actually are righteous. It feels more humble to believe we’re filthy worms awaiting a future change into beautiful butterflies…………..Jesus stated it best. He said that our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom (Matthew 5:20). So if we Christians don’t claim to possess perfect righteousness, we are lowering God’s standard. We are watering down the gospel. We insinuate that Jesus can unite himself with sin. And we insult the perfection of God.
The point Farley is driving at is what Paul tells us time and again in Romans: we have to come to a point where we live the reality, not just believe it, that our old self has been crucified with Christ. It is dead and gone. From a spiritual perspective, this is the only possible reality. As Christians, we are now united with God through Christ and further, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us. On top of all this, we are also filled with Christ (see Ephesians 4:10). As hard as it may be for us to fathom, we are now the “Temple of God.” In the old temple in Jerusalem, God dwelled in the inner most room of the temple, called the Holy of Holies. Nothing impure or imperfect could enter there and even the High Priest only ventured in once each year.
Friends, we are now the Holy of Holies. We may not feel like it. We may not understand it. We may look at other followers of Christ and, knowing their shortcomings, find it hard to believe that they are the Temple of God, the very Holy of Holies. I guess that is one reason we are told that trusting our feelings is a tenuous, risky business. Scripture affirms that we are now the dwelling place of God and if God lives in us, our true being cannot be imperfect. That is why the old self had to die with Christ. Andrew Farley continues:
The risen Christ doesn’t join himself to filthy worms. The Holy Spirit doesn’t dwell in dirty sinners. Christ only unites himself with those who are like him in spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t reside in someone who remains even 1 percent flawed by sin. . . . . . . .But we have been perfectly cleansed. We have been made perfectly righteous at our core through spiritual surgery. This is the way we can enjoy even a moment of relationship with Jesus Christ.
As we look at all this, again, some of us may find it hard to believe, especially those of us who struggle with chronic, long-standing strongholds and negative emotions. We need, however, to not only believe it but live it. By that I mean we must base our thoughts, decisions, and actions upon this reality. We must come to view ourselves in precisely the same way God sees us: pure, holy, whole, and righteous.
(c) L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved
- Am I Lukewarm? (lifebrook.wordpress.com)
- Living as a New Creation (Part One) (lifebrook.wordpress.com)
- ‘Lord! Lord! Why have you forsaken me!’ (onwardswearychristian.wordpress.com)