His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life. 2 Peter 1:3 NIV If God has provided everything we need for a godly life, why is it that some Christians never seem to grow? They never seem to have much joy or make any progress. Peter...
As our king, Christ poured His life into us and cultivates that life within us. Out of our life in Christ, we surrender every square inch of our lives to His reign. Yet sin tempts us to reject obedience to God as our king. We must wage war against this foe. Otherwise we give ourselves over to the source of all death.
Indeed, Christ’s life is a person. He sends His Spirit to indwell and fill us. The Spirit reveals sin’s subtle tactics to turn our focus away from God. Moreover, the Spirit empowers us to engage the means by which the Father cultivates and protects us in Himself.
Through walking by the Spirit, we will abide in eternal life (Romans 8:13). This same Spirit rose Jesus from His grave into glory and bliss. That Spirit lives inside us. He gave us a new life in Jesus. He empowers us to conquer any lingering desire to disobey God. As our counselor, the Spirit instructs us in three truths. They are vital to our well-being.
First, sin readily tempts us who are easily convinced to rebel against God. Second, the Spirit supplies us with all the strength we need to fight off sin. We must employ that strength to surrender every aspect of ourselves and our lives to Christ. Third, the Spirit employs one power to apply Christ’s salvation to us. That power is the gospel. This good news motivates us to turn away from sin and encourages us when we fall to sin.
Take Heed Lest You Fall
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7)
Sin crouches outside the gates of our hearts, waiting to obtain the throne of our desires. Satan lurks outside and whispers into our ears an enticing offer, presenting the bait while hiding the hook. He knows just the right place to poke and prod. Indeed, he diligently searched for that one weak link to exploit. As a roaring lion seeking prey to devour us, he joins our sinful desires to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8; James 1:14).
Once any sinful desire has been sufficiently cultivated and sustained to reach full growth, it will conceive sin and that sin will slay us (James 1:14–15). It delights in falsely clothing itself with the appearance of virtue, just as Satan delights to masquerade himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Once fleshly desires and promises have intoxicated you, you are no more than a blind lamb on the path to the slaughterhouse.
Once sin directs your heart to believe that this particular act of rebellion is “desirable,” then your mind will falsely reason that the act is “good.” With our hands and feet, we implement what our hearts find desirable and what our minds consider good.
Through our intake of the Word, the Spirit transforms our hearts, minds, and wills. Radiating our hearts in the warmth of Christ, the Spirit melts away cold desires unaffected by God’s love. He inflames our hearts to adore and enjoy Christ. Shining the light of Christ into our minds, he chases all dark thoughts of sin away. He reorients our minds to meditate on Christ.
Invigorating our wills with the energy of Christ, the Spirit enlivens our wills otherwise unresponsive to God’s grace and mercy. Out of the Spirit’s effective work within us, we toil to maximize our enjoyment of God.
Sweaty Toiling and Restful Dependence
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12)
Power to defeat sin has been granted to us by God. Through our death and resurrection in Christ, death to sin and life to God is ours. Through our transformation into new creations by the Holy Spirit, the old has passed away and the new is present (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Additionally, we have a new identity in Christ. United to Christ, we receive the benefits of redemption, forgiveness, and reconciliation. God separates us from our sins. He no longer associates us with our rebellion. We no longer owe God a debt for our sin because Jesus satisfied the punishment for our sins on the cross.
While we had previously been cast out of God’s presence, God invites us back into His presence as His adopted children. And He invites us into His presence to worship and enjoy Him forever.
Because God has equipped us with His all-sufficient power and has called us into His all-satisfying presence, we can begin to live in obedience to his reign. We can put to death that which is contrary to his reign. Indeed, this is our spiritual worship.
Now when God looks at us, he sees Jesus. He sees us clothed in Jesus’s righteousness. He sees us cleansed in Jesus’s shed blood. And He sees us lifted up into Jesus’s life.
As we fight sin, we should rest in Jesus because He alone removes the crushing weight of our sin.
As our friend and savior, He approaches us in gentleness and humility. He assures us of our life in Him. Moreover, Jesus cultivates our desire and ability to live for Him. In His incarnation, Jesus condescended from His place in heaven to take on our humanity and live among us. In His ascension, Jesus sent His Spirit to abide in us so that He accompanies us all the time and everywhere.
We should not fear sin. Jesus secured our salvation. And His Spirit applies that salvation to us. We should strive in that salvation with our entire being to fight sin.
The Greatest Comfort of All: Belonging to Christ
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We must daily preach to ourselves the Gospel. And God will comfort us in the good news that we belong to Jesus forever. The blood of the Lamb, “the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus,” was shed for us (Thomas Brooks). Our ransom is paid.
God sits enthroned in our hearts as our king. He requests the same level of commitment and loyalty that He gives us. Indeed, He does not ask us to die to ourselves daily without dying for us first. And you see, God enables us to accomplish His requests. Our identity in Christ empowers us to live as faithful servants of God. Before we could ever serve God, Christ became a servant for us. In His humanity, Christ aligned His will with His Father’s will.
Certainly, Jesus has secured us as His own. Christ has rooted and established the very core of our being to Himself. He has stamped us with His royal crest. He has poured His very life and love into us. As our helper and guide, His Spirit strengthens and encourages us in our fight against sin. Nothing nor nobody can stop nor hinder God’s power at work within us. Neither can they separate us from the love of God poured into us.
Only in Christ can we fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).