October 23: Hope in Christ (not your own spiritual growth)

Romans 3:26-28. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 

“To live is Christ” means that you are righteous without works. But do we really understand the implication of this greatest of Christian truths? Do we really believe it?

Most Christians live their daily lives in constant shame over failures. The majority of their life is effort upon effort. And yet failure upon failure. And with each failure comes the wave of guilt and shame that floods the heart and changes the score in our minds. This proves that our hope is still in what we do. It is in our behavior. Our change. Our spiritual growth.

Your hope must never be in your spiritual growth. Yes, you are growing spiritually. Yes, we are being transformed into the image of Christ. Yes, we desire Christ’s life, his love and holiness, to be the controlling force of our lives. Yes, we grieve our sin with godly grief. But we must never place our hope in any of this. Our hope is in Christ and his finished work alone. This faith in our justification by God’s grace alone is what will produce the growth. Faith in anything else, including our own spiritual transformation is NOT faith in Christ. Focus on anything other than Christ, including our own obedience, will return us to the soul destroying law of works.

God is forever done dealing with you based upon the law of works. He deals with you from the law of faith. He deals with you based on what Christ has done. Not on what you are doing.

The truth is you are a failure. But you are a justified failure. A righteous sinner. Therefore, we are no longer to live our life from the paradigm of “success v failure.” I hear so many Christians use the language of “good Christian” and “bad Christian.” There are no such things. Why? Because God is not keeping score. Nothing you do can change your justification. Nothing you do can makes you “good” or “bad.” Union with Christ by faith makes you good (no matter how bad you are). And a lack of faith in Christ’s saving work makes you bad (no matter how good you are).

“To live is Christ” is a calling to live from the paradigm of faith. Faith in Christ. Faith in Christ in success. And faith in Christ in failure. Faith in Christ in my good and my bad. Faith that God sees me and judges me only in Christ, and no other way. When we really trust this, believing it with every bit of our being, we are ready to embrace our sinful reality and the grace of God that comes with it. Now we are freed for true growth and transformation. Now, we no longer fear God’s purifying work. We simply fear God as the lover of our souls.

Do you tend to score your own life based on your perceived spiritual growth? Are you actually living from the law of works, rather than the law of faith? How does union with Christ accomplish our justification? How does faith in this justification accomplish our transformation?

 

 

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