The Death of Me

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. – Galatians 2:20-21

O wretched man that I am. Thanks be to God that I do not achieve the righteousness required for salvation on my own. I am utterly in capable. My flesh constantly wars against me. The battle is fresh and the conflict is heavy. Every day, the war rages on. I am so thankful for Paul’s letters. In the very moment I need encouragement or rebuke, the words of God recorded b Paul are of great help. I see two things in this passage that bring me strenght.

First, my debt has been paid in full. I was crucified with Christ. In God’s court, the condemned has been punished. His justice has been satisfied. Since I am not dead, this current life lived in my corrupt flesh is lived in utter dependence on Christ. He is what sustains me as I go about my daily activities. I am sturck by to implications from this truth. First being that my life is not my own. Paul explicitly states this when he said that we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price. We are to glorify God in our bodies and lives. When I was talking with a friend of mine, he made an interesting statement. In regards to sin he simply, but emphatically stated, “I do not have the right!” That is a shocking statement in this country. America is built on rights and the free exercise there of. The culture has twisted it so taht everything is a right, everything is deserved. Sadly, the church has adopted this mindset to a large degree. What would our battles with sin look lik if when tempted, we screamed out “I have no rights!!”? My rights, my will, my volition, my life were all killed on the cross. I am not my own. I am a slave of God, purchased to do His good woks in the world. The second implication is that we daily need communion with God. We must be in constatn communication with our life source. If we fail at this point, we will fail in the other. Without feeding the truth of God into our souls, we will grow tired and wak, unable to figh the temptation. We are beauty starved. We settle for the imposter beauty of sin instaead of the genuine, deep beauty offered by the Word of God. In gazing pon the beauty of Christ, we receive life to our dead bodies, life to do and be all God has called us to.

The second truth I see is that I do not nullify God’s grace! There are going to be days when I do not live as though it’s Christ living in me. I am going to ract and to struggle and I will fail at some point. What do we do then? I think that’s why Paul included this verse as the last line in the paragraph. He lays out the ideal in verse 20. The ideal is a daily, striving communion with God that allows Christ to dwell and control our daily lives. But what happens when we fall short (as we all have)? Paul answers it clearly! We do no nullify God’s grace! Our actions, for good or evil do not affect our righteous standing before God. Jesus fulfilled the whole law perfectly. That perfection has been imputed upon me. The doctring is called substitionary atonement. Christ was our subsititute and he has made atonement for our sins. This is the essence of the gospel. Men no longer have to earn their salvation. In fact, they can’t! All they must do is turn to Jesus and in Him, their lives of rebellion are forgiven and not only are they forgiven, they are declared righteous. Holy, perfect, co-heirs and co-reigners with Christ! Martin Luther called it the “Great Exchange”, our sin for His righteousness. I couldn’t think of better trade.


Just Desserts

Typically, each Sunday evening, you’ll find me watching “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. I really enjoy this show. Families with difficulties are chosen to receive a brand new home. While not very manly to admit, the show often reduces me tears as you hear about the struggles and tragedies that have befallen these families. While I appreciate the show and rarely miss an episode, there is a theme running through it that I believe to be a horrible lie. This lie is perpetrated not only in this show, but also through out all of culture. Without fail, the “designers” will say something to this effect, “this family deserves this…” That is what I believe to be the lie. This is the lie that haunts America. This is the lie that has made the American church weak and pedantic in it’s thinking and theology. 
Perhaps I’m coming across to harsh. Or am I? When we look at our lives through the lens of Scripture, does that statement pass the litmus test of Biblical truth? It is my assertion that no, it passes no test of truth and is therefore a lie. Today at church, I met a guy in my Sunday school class I had not met yet. He and I and Nick engaged in a great conversation about the church not truly understanding what forgiveness really means in regards to christian leaders who’s sin causes their fall from leadership. My new friend made the statement that we don’t understand the depths of our own sinfulness. Because, if we did, we would live differently. I couldn’t agree with him more. It is the great truth that can set us free. When we believe we deserve certain things because of this or that, we become prisoners of our own expectations. If what we think we deserve is not granted, we believe we’ve been jilted. Our arrogance in assuming we deserve good has brought us to a place of resentment and bitterness directed at whoever we find responsible for our lack of fulfillment. Perhaps it’s God. Perhaps it’s Republicans. Perhaps it’s white people. Perhaps it’s your parents. Perhaps it’s your boss. Whoever it’s culturally acceptable to blame, we blame and eventually the blame turns into hate and hate imprisons us. 
The truth is that we deserve nothing good. We deserve destruction. Our sin is grotesque before the Lord and His anger burns hot against it. His justice and wrath are soothed only through the slaughter of the guilty. Friends, this is our just desserts. This is what we deserve. Yet God is gracious, slow to anger. His mercies are new every morning. He has not dealt with us according to our sins. He laid them on Jesus. He made Jesus cursed. He made Jesus sin. He made us righteous…not  through works, but bestowed through grace. When we properly understand what we truly deserve as sinfully wretched people, we can properly understand exactly what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us and that understanding should bring us low and humble as we approach the throne of grace. To often, we presume upon God’s kindness and make demands we ought not make. We try to bargain with God. If he does this or that, we’ll do this or that. That’s not how it works. God does not negotiate. God tells us how it’s going to go down. We can either rejoice or rebel.
I pray that each one of us come to a greater understanding of our sinfulness, not so that we become tortured souls, loathing the very day of our birth. Instead, I seek for us to be humble and appreciative of even the small good things that God sees fit to give us. Despite all the hard times and sins committed against us, we deserve a lot worse. I pray the Spirit uses these thoughts to spur you on to truly cherishing your election to God’s family. He is so good. We are so undeserving. Praise be to God, our Father! May He complete the good work started in you!