A critical issue among followers of Christ is a hesitance to relinquish the past. When our identities are rooted in the shame of who we were we are hesitant to embrace who we are. When 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that the old has passed away and all has become new it is not speaking metaphorically. It is speaking literally.
Like quicksand, shame holds us fast and when we struggle against it we’re only sucked in further. Grace is the rope that God extends to us in our places of desperation. If we have faith in it and hold on, it is strong enough to pull us out of even the deepest muck and mire.
Jesus didn’t come to invite us to adopt His life modification program. He came to kill the flesh. He came so that our old, dead natures would be cast into the grave and the new man would be free to rise up. Because so many believe that the Good News is about something they can do, they are unwilling to put the full weight of their faith in what He has already done.
As a result the spirit of religion has taken root in our churches. Many self proclaimed Christians, rather than fixing their eyes upon Jesus, are consumed with watching one another. After all, if we believe that the Good News is in fact about behavior modification, the evidence of it taking root in our lives is in our comparison with one another. Sadly, we are not free to love… although we may mouth the words and frame smiles on our lips, our hearts remain bound in chains.
Jesus laid His life down so that we may be free, not just barely free but abundantly free. His free gift is available by grace and received in faith. It is not meant to be lived from the outside in but from the inside out. That is to say, what is inside us sure to come out. So if we have been transformed by the blood of Christ we will begin to live out of who we are… or more specifically, who we have become. However, if we simply adopt a behavior modification program it will not change who we are. No matter how diligently we strive, we are saddled with the same sin problem and if the answer were available anywhere in “self” then Jesus died needlessly on that cross.
Don’t misconstrue what I am saying here. Real faith in Jesus Christ will change us but it must be our faith in Him that is the catalyst, not our attempts to justify self. It is important that we embrace what He has already done rather than relying on what we falsely believe ourselves capable of doing. This means that we have absolutely nothing to boast about.
We cannot say, “I” as any part of the Gospel message except in noting that “I surrendered.” The rest is Christ and as such it is He who receives all the praise, honor and glory.
No one will walk through the pearly gates of heaven because of anything they have done apart from receiving Jesus’ free gift of salvation.
Now, back to where I began. If we give credit to self then we also receive unto ourselves all that was meant to die. That includes the shame. For we are unable to erase our pasts. We are unable to wipe the slate clean. That is far beyond our capabilities. Jesus alone accomplished this task. So, in summary it comes to down to this:
Relying on self = Condemnation
Relying on Christ = Life
Let go of the old, dead self. Surrender at the foot of the cross. If you feel like I am preaching to you at this point it is because I am. So can I get an AMEN?
~ Mitch Salmon
Mitch Salmon is a follower of Jesus Christ and proclaimer of the Good News – The Gospel of Christ Jesus!