When I walk through the “gate” of salvation, I am thrilled with the revelation that my sins are forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am now reconciled to (at peace with) God my Creator. Not only that, I am His child, born into His family (John 1:12). But it doesn’t take long before an important question/problem comes up: how do I live the Christian life? Because of the kind of teaching/mentoring I am exposed to (legalistic)…and/or because of the simple fact that “my flesh likes to work,” I start out on the road of trying in my own strength to live the Christian life. Of course I try to do it to please God, seeking God’s help…hoping I have enough or the right kind of faith (because without faith I can’t please Him, Heb 11:6) and hoping I ask (pray) correctly.
But sooner or later, I start failing, getting confused and frustrated, maybe even despairing and giving up. This goes on for years! Finally, the truth of what has been true all along begins to break through:
I was never meant to live it!
Jesus is the only one who ever lived it!
This same Jesus lives in me! Col 1:27
He will live the life through me, as me, if I let Him! Gal 2:20
That’s faith. It’s my consent, my yielding to the Risen, indwelling Christ to live His Life in and through me as me.
It’s then at my point of desperation that God reveals to my heart that in the eternal, unseen realm, He had immersed me (baptized me) into Christ. My old man (my sinful self inherited from Adam) died united to Him, was buried united to Him, and arose a new creation in Him (2Cor 5:14-21). At salvation, I had become a new person in Christ, free from the power of sin, free from the law (the legalistic, to-do list Christian should’s and ought to’s), and free from the selfish self that makes me my frame of reference for all things. I died to all of that. I also died to the world (the earthly system in rebellion against God), the flesh (the pull of sin within that is in rebellion against God), and the devil (God’s evil, lying, rebellious enemy, the father of all unbelievers). Romans 6, Colossians 1&2, Galatians 4-6.
Once I realize that and begin to live from that truth (“Wait a minute! I died to __________________!”), I am then free to live in newness of life right now: the Resurrected, indwelling Jesus united to my spirit in and through my earthly life as me (Gal 2:20). I am His vessel, His container, His instrument to show forth the life and glory of the Father in this world.
OK, that’s all well and good. But what about the fact that I don’t feel dead and free from sin, temptation, the pull of the fleshly, material part of me? It feels like I’m two people or someone with two natures: a godly one that wants only Him and an ungodly one that only cares about myself and my desires and “appetites.”
The problem lies in the fact that I still have a temporal, earthly, human existence in a world suffering the consequences of sin (Romans 8). My humanness (body & soul) is changing, fluctuating, being pulled this way and that because it is connected to the seen & temporal realm. The sin principle still indwells my body and soul, my “members” on this earth (Romans 7). My spirit (who I really am), on the other hand, is fixed, complete, righteous, holy because it is one with God in the unseen, eternal realm.
What I still suffer while on this fallen earth are the consequences of sin: sickness, physical death, disappointment, grief, negative emotions, etc. and the pull of sin indwelling my fleshly human nature (body & soul). But all of that is not who I really am. It feels like me, but it’s not! The real me is united to Christ. My life is hid with Christ in God in the eternal realm (Col 3:3).
God uses all of these trials and fluctuations in my soul and body to teach me to live by faith and not by sight. Now by faith I reckon (“count on”) being dead to this sin, that lie, the other ungodly pull…and alive to God and His will! Reckoning doesn’t make it true. I count on it (reckon it) to be true because it is true.
And I chose to live from the truth of who I am in the eternal realm. Then my Lord Christ can have free reign because He is my life and I am His instrument! Hallelujah!