Who We Are "In Christ"
In Search Of Our Identity (Part 7)
As children having walked out the door for an evening of fun, parents have been known to say, "Remember who you belong to." Perhaps the parents were hoping that the knowledge of who you were and to whom you belonged would influence your decision-making process, should you be tempted with the ways of this awful world.
I think too, that through our identity in Christ, God reminds us "who we belong to". As children of God, we have been redeemed. Now I don't know about you, but my understanding of exactly what it means to be redeemed used to be somewhat fuzzy. To "redeem" someone literally means to "buy back", then to "set free".
There is a famous story of how a man once saw a slave on the open market. The bids were quite high for this particular slave because he was very physically fit, able to do the work of two men supposedly. But also, this man's wife and child were for sale as slaves. During the slave trade, families were frequently split up at auctions, as it was rare the whole family would be purchased by the same owner...
However, in this particular case, this man out-bid all others at this particular auction and gained the deed to the slave. This particular man also out bid the crowd on the slaves wife and child. For all practical purposes, he had deed to a male slave, the slave's wife, and the slave's child.
Upon completing payment, the slave owner stood with deeds of parchment in hand, and his slaves before him. As the owner looked into the eyes of this family, he then took ink in hand and did what he had intended to do all along... He signed the "deeds" of ownership, accompanied by a signed statement that the persons in these deeds were now "set free" by the owner.
You see, if a slave owner wished it so, he could set his slaves free... totally free... and this action was irrevocable. No one else was allowed to legally enslave these people again once the owner had set them free.
The owner of the slaves then handed his signed and sealed documents of freedom to each of the three in the family. Looking into the eyes of the male slave, he simply said, "You are now free." ...
This is a true story. And the man that purchased the slaves was quite a famous man... that ended up having quite the key role in freeing ALL slaves in the United States of America... His name was Abraham Lincoln.
The Incomparable Christ
What a powerful, loving statement in the Word of God! We have been "rescued" from the dominion of darkness by Christ, Himself! We have now been transferred out of darkness, INTO the KINGDOM of God's Son, Jesus Christ! In THIS Kingdom, we have redemption, which is the forgiveness of sins! According to this scripture? We ALREADY have redemption! The verbiage is PAST TENSE!We have been "bought back"! It's DONE! We are FREE from DARKNESS!"For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." ~ Colossians 1:13-14
How does that make you feel? Toward the One who "bought you back" from darkness, then "set you free"?
"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." ~ Galatians 4:4-5Here we are told that God sent His Son Jesus into the world to redeem (buy back) those that were under the Law (you and I). Jesus did this for us so that we would receive "full rights" as children of God. Why is it important that we fully understand this? The list is almost endless, but to start, it is so we can rest assured of just who we are in Christ that we may have the peace of heart, boldness in spirit to deal with the flesh that resides within us all, and perseverance to endure this spiteful world. We are supposed to understand that we are now free to "live by the spirit" (which has eternal life by the power of Christ), despite this flesh that will one day die and pass away. But, even though it will remain with us for a little while (our flesh), it is, can, and will be dominated by the Holy Spirit that now resides in us as born again Christians! Will we ever be "perfect" in this flesh? Probably not... But there will most definitely be "major changes" and it (our flesh) will be more and more subdued as we "mature" in the power of the "Spirit of God"! Glory! How absolutely INCREDIBLE!
"The Robe and The Ring"
"But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 'I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."'
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
"And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'"
"But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate." ~ Luke 15:17-24
But? As was the case, the father had something totally different in his heart. In the heart of the father was celebration because a son that had been lost was now found. Did the father feel as if the son was no longer "worthy" to be his son? The fact that the best robe and the ring was fetched for the son, was symbolic of all rights of son-ship being restored to the son... You see, it wasn't up to the son, but the father as to whether or not the son would remain his son!
With all that is within me, I must conclude that our heavenly Father feels the same way about us IF our heart was ever given to Him in earnest. Even though we may, for this reason or that, go off and sin and/or to do our own things, from God's vantage point, does this make us slaves again, or are we still His sons/daughters? Scripture tells us that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God! How extraordinary!
When you sin (notice I said, 'when'), do you sometimes feel exactly the way the prodigal son did -- that you are no longer worthy to be called God's son/daughter? If you're anything the way I was, you may fall prey to that self-condemnation, not fully realizing that it is up to GOD to determine such a thing... And that He has told us what His determination is already concerning His children!
God redeemed us so we would have full rights as His sons and daughters. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for us to fully understand that we HAVE BEEN redeemed!
As I have said many times, in many different places, for twelve years in my walk with God, I had mis-understood my salvation. I had adopted the attitude that, "If I make it to heaven God? That will be fantastic! But if I don't, I'm going to do for You what I can anyway." That was the best I could do. You see, I had thought myself no more than a "hired man". But God? He finally showed me that He stood before me with the best robe! He stood before me with the ring! Undeservedly, I accepted the robe and the ring that only HE could offer me... I have never gotten over that, and I'm quite sure I never will... That totally overwhelms me in my flesh every time I dwell and meditate on it... What a loving God we serve!
Where are you in your understanding? Do you think yourself a "hired man/woman" of God? Or are you ready to wear "The Robe and the Ring?"
There is constant criticism concerning the teaching of Grace and our truthful identity in Christ is that it gives a "license to sin". As a fellow I know would say, "We don't need a license to sin. We did that just fine without one." But? I do suppose it is a valid question. I remember asking it myself before I understood God's Grace."What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." ~ Romans 6:15-18
And so it must have been even in Paul's time. You see, the Jews, steeped in the Law of God asked the same questions. Paul's reply was clear and very concise: "By no means!" To further elaborate , Paul used the idea of slavery so everyone could visualize in their minds what should be going on in the heart of the recipient of God's Grace.
In this explanation, Paul makes some interesting points concerning "slavery". First, you "offer" yourself to someone to "obey" him as if a slave. In this particular case, we have two clear choices as to who will enslave us, which would be slavery to sin which would ultimately lead to death, or slavery to "obedience" (unto Jesus Christ, of which Jesus only had two commandments) which leads to righteousness (the righteousness that can only be seen through the blood of Jesus and enabled by our acceptance of the Life Jesus demonstrated for us through His Resurrection).
We all know that when we were lost, we were definitely "slaves to sin". No rocket science there is there my friends? But by "obeying the gospels", what have we willingly become slaves to? That's right... The "Righteousness" (Jesus Christ) mentioned above. We can also thank God for The Holy Spirit, for without Him, subduing the flesh would be a total impossibility and neither could our minds be "renewed".
What Paul describes here and in many other places in the New Testament is "freedom". This freedom, as has been described elsewhere is a total freedom. But, as is always the "context" of the Gospel (Good News), anytime freedom is mentioned describing the born again believer in Christ, it is ALWAYS A REFERENCE TO FREEDOM FROM SIN! Some of us have been blessed with the understanding that spiritually we have been freed from sin entirely, and this was what Jesus dealt with over 2000 years ago to "prepare" us for salvation. Jesus has already paid the price for every sin in all the world, in all time frames, forever! IT (dealing with sin) Is Finished!
But in the here and now? In this flesh? Evidence of this is a gradual physical process of which the physical manifestations become more and more evident as our minds and hearts grow in the "renewal" process... Our flesh is actually becoming more and more "subdued" by the Holy Spirit as we choose to be more and more "obedient" to the will of God in our character. Since we have been "set free" (freedom) from the law of "sin and death" it wouldn't make a bit of sense to return to a lifestyle of sin would it? Truly, when we really realize the Truth about our redemption in Christ, we can then realize that by faith we simply do not have to participate in sin any longer the way we did before. Before we were born again, we had no real choice according to our nature... Now? It's quite different, praise God! We are literally free in our spirit NOT to sin!
So? Spiritually, freedom from sin is a matter of history for the born again. Physically? It is an ongoing process made possible only through our willingness to obey God, and that is only possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us all... Physical obedience to the ministry of the Holy Spirit promotes what is described as "living by the Spirit"! Amen!
"Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." ~ 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
In the previous segment we discussed Paul's address to what was going on in the Corinthian church at the time, which namely was an "abuse of God's Grace". The Corinthian church mis-understood their new-found "freedom" in Christ. Their flesh grabbed hold of the idea that "Now we can do as we please without fear of judgment from God!" (my paraphrase). Paul sought to address this error in understanding, thus, the scripture above is one instance where Paul attempts to explain to us what our basic "motivation" should be in our hearts and minds so our flesh will be properly directed (subdued) by the Holy Spirit. He does this by explaining some very important facts about the changes that should occur within the born again believer.
In this particular instance, the issue of promiscuous sex within the church is being addressed because it was literally rampant within the Corinthian church at that time (*Oh how horrible! That wouldn't be possible today among believers would it?). But the basics that explain the Truth of Grace not only sheds light on this error in understanding of sex, but also lays the foundation of the believers "motivation by Grace" which enables our freedom "NOT" to abide in sin!
Paul starts by making a distinction between sexual sin and all other sins, in that sexual sin is against the body, where as all other sin is outside the body. Paul implies this should be especially despicable to us as born again believers because we sin against the "temple" of the Holy Spirit, which "lives" in... US!
He also teaches us that "our bodies are not our own"... In all things this is true, not only in the arena of sexual sin. Then Paul goes even deeper into our understanding to explain "we are not our own" because "we have been bought with a price"! Friends? What "price" was that? What was the only thing valuable enough to "purchase you" from the kingdom of eternal darkness? How absolutely incredible that God's Son, Jesus... God Himself would shed His own blood to buy us back...
Now how does that make us "feel" in our hearts? Has it been said so much, by so many people, for such a long time , that we no longer have a "debt of appreciation" of what God did? Ok... So we're imperfect... But we have God's Grace... All things are lawful, right?
"I have this feeling of being fed up with a great many things in this world. I'm tired of how I'm treated. There are even a few types of people I hate, and others I hate what they do. I'm that way, and I'm free to do so!"True enough, all things are lawful to the born again believer. Freedom wouldn't be freedom if God's Law remained in judgment of any part of our lives... But the "Law of The Spirit" also says, "not all things are profitable" to the character, integrity and purpose of God which is inside each and everyone of us through the ministry of The Holy Spirit (of Whom we now belong)!
So? Clutch all your imperfections that you have come to treasure! Hold them as tightly as you can in both arms! Then walk into the shadow of the cross and look into the eyes of Jesus and see if His Grace allows that you should keep them for a lifetime... Search the heart of God... then search yours... Do you possess a "debt of gratitude" for the Sacrifice made on your behalf so that you can now know what it is to "LIVE" and eternal life made available to You through Jesus, expressed to us through His glorious resurrection?
"So? Clutch all your imperfections that you have come to treasure! Hold them as tightly as you can in both arms! Then walk into the shadow of the cross and look into the eyes of Jesus and see if His Grace allows that you should keep them for a lifetime..."That is what Paul was trying to tell us... He was trying to tell us this in hopes that we could tap into the Holy Spirit within us that is more than able to enable us to "Glorify God in our bodies"... Amen & Amen
But that's not nearly all:
"Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." ~ Galatians 4:6-7
My God! I cannot find the words to adequately express the power and the love God has for us that He would not only save us, but He would actually "send forth the SPIRIT OF HIS SON" into our hearts! Friends? How can we have JESUS living and breathing inside of us and hold our bibles in one hand and our hate and/or disdain for others in the other (Wow. This question just kicked my teeth in)? How can we read and study the things of God and sneak out the house for a sexual encounter with someone besides our mate? How can we hold our bibles in one hand and hold ANY sin in the other hand? As ugly a thing as it is to admit, the way we do this is with the flesh. And THAT is exactly what we are to engage in battle with the Holy Spirit at our stead! We can make headway in defeating and subduing our flesh through the Spirit of God's Son that lives within us! Spiritually that battle has already been won... But in this flesh? Well, stand in the shadow of the cross and see what the Spirit of Jesus has to say to you. Eh?
But we also need to know that God knew of everything we would be through Him? And He also knew everything we would not be and He has delivered us through it all if we are truly born again... Can you imagine? We are no longer slaves to sin... We have been given the gift of Son ship. We have been made sons and daughters of God! We are an "heir"! You know "heirs" inherit things... And our ultimate inheritance is eternal life as sons and daughters of God!
If the Truth of these scriptures doesn't stir an "undying debt of gratitude" within you my friends, I would take a serious look at myself, for there is something terribly wrong with our condition... It will be up to you and God to find your motivations by Grace in all things...
Knowing we have been bought by the precious blood of Jesus and having been set free from the law of sin and death enables us to fully enjoy the "riches of God's love and Grace" with a heart free of all malice and immorality, despite any momentary lapses we may have in this learning process. In light of the fact that despite all the obstacles saTan would have you think exists, you have totally been "redeemed". it just wouldn't make any sense what-so-ever to go back to our lives of bondage!
Glory To God! All praise belongs to Him! All honor! All Glory! Thank You Jesus for Who you are to us... Our Savior, our Teacher, our Grace... our Motivation!
Amen & Amen!