Get Real! by Andrew Farley
Justified? Sanctified? Righteous? What do these words really mean to us? Are they in our hearts as much as we understand them in our heads? Do we need to make that journey from our head to our hearts?
Take righteousness, for instance. What do we believe about righteousness? Do we believe that we aren't righteous, but are seen as righteous only because God looks at us through Christ? If that's the case, then we couldn't really say that we are righteous right now!
How do we understand all that we have in Christ? Let's get real. As we have been talking about the New Covenant, it helps to go back there. The New Covenant guarantees that our sins, all our sins have been forgiven. It's popular belief for us to think that our old sins are forgiven, but our new sins need to be confessed and reported as they come - this is such a damaging, death-dealing belief that religion has shackled us up with! This is where Indulgences, Last Rites and all sorts of religiosity came from! This is what the Protestants protested against!
Our forgiveness comes from Christ, through His finished work. Paul said that this sacrifice is not progressive but Christ's finished work is finished indeed, once and for all! Christ was sacrificed, one-time, for all time. There are more than two, even three scripture passages that say this... and if you hear otherwise, you are hearing words that say Christ's finished work is not actually finished or rendered ineffective - protest against such words and claims!
'Am I forgiven? Or am I being forgiven?' - You ought to understand that you have been forgiven! It's a past-tense thing. How could you stand to forgive others genuinely when you yourself do not believe that you have been completely and therefore genuinely forgiven? You have been forgiven before you even apologized to God about it - therefore, go out and forgive others the same way!
You didn't need to confess your sin for God to forgive you - how should you impose that others must apologize, or even show any source of remorse or even awareness of their offense, before you forgive them? God the Father absolutely forgave you, and that matters, because that's what defines how you forgive, and therefore how you handle offense! You have been forgiven - forgive!
What about 1 John 1:9? Again, this was addressed, written in rebuke to the teaching of Gnosticism, which claimed that God never came down in the form of a man, and that only through the acquisition of secret knowledge (which has nothing to do with morality and therefore nothing to do with addressing or even recognition of sin) God can be reached. We've taken words addressed to people who don't believe in sin, and we've taken it as a burden on our own, even when it stated that the writer of the epistle was addressing those who do not believe they have sin in the same chapter!
The idea of constant confession comes out of taking 1 John 1:9 out of context, seeing it above countless other verses in the New Testament which state that the forgiveness is done through Christ's finished work once and for all. In fact, in the same verse, John actually states it again - 'the blood of Jesus Christ forgives you of ALL sin.' Even in this, John is talking to these sin-deniers and saying that if they consider that they actually have sinned, this would eventually bring them to the realization of the real need for Christ, and hence repentance follows.
(1) Let us protest against constant confession for consistent forgiveness, promoting unconditional eternal forgiveness through the finished work of Christ. (2) Let us avoid taking one verse and taking it so out of context!
We have been completely cleansed!
People have also claimed that our forgiveness may be guaranteed eternally in one position but not in the other - like we're forgiven in the heavenlies, but not here on earth, so that justifies our need to continue confessing our sin. There is absolutely no Biblical basis to this.
People have been using 'the Lord's prayer' as a basis for claiming that we should forgive so we could be forgiven. Remember that this was said in line with when Christ was saying, 'cut off your hand if your hand causes you to sin.' Remember how all this changes AFTER THE CROSS. After the cross we are told that we are able to forgive because we ourselves have been forgiven.. and we have been made new creations, with sin absolutely taken out and 'amputated' of our systems!
What about the idea of being justified or righteous? The topic of righteousness has been watered down to a point that we're asking ourselves, 'why do I still sin?', when the question is really, 'why is this happening in spite of the fact that I have been made righteous?'
We like to go back to where it says, 'Abraham believed, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' Now, while this is something good to say in the sense that the only work we ought to do is to believe, we ought to remember that this was back in the Old Testament. Praise God, that when we believed in what God had to say, it was counted to us for righteousness, but we really should believe that our righteousness came not fully through this imputation, but through understanding (and, okay, believing) that we have been made new creations, we have been born again as Christ rose again...
...and this means so much more than just righteousness imputed towards us! No, now we have a living Righteousness, Christ alive in us! We do not just have righteousness through Christ's finished work, but we have life, and actual life, abundant life! Peter states that we have been made partakers of the divine nature through Christ!
Christ became sin - He did not just take sin... So that we would become the righteousness of God - we BECAME the righteousness of God, born again, not mere possessors, holders of righteousness. The righteousness we have is infused, and not imputed! Wow!
We were never righteous in Adam, but in Christ we not only have righteousness and justification, we are righteous, upholding the ministry of reconciliation... all because of Christ. The only thing that matters is that we have been made new creations, and we are righteous.
We were saved, not by a declaration that we are righteous, but a complete heart surgery that makes us righteous from the core.
'...but why do I still sin? I want to believe that I am righteous, that I have life, and I am a new creation, but I still sin!'
Following this thought we could say that the righteousness we have is symbolic. That temptation is real... But again, we have to understand that sin is no longer associated to our nature - any thoughts that come to us that aren't righteous are still present, but they come from the outside. We also have our links to our previous hardware - the flesh - but we are, praise God, moving from glory to glory through the renewing of our mind, having its foundation in the fact and the Truth that we have ALREADY been made righteous to the core through Christ and His death, resurrection and ascension!
What about sanctification? Sanctification is holiness, and people are forcing the issue that we ought to be holy or our salvation is in vain. Sanctification is our setting apart for a purpose. According to the Bible, (1 Cor 6:11) we have already been washed, sanctified, and justified... all three! And, we belong to God, we are reserved for him, all of us, all for Him! We belong to Him completely, and nothing can ever take us away from this love!
Hebrews 10:10 says we HAVE BEEN made holy and sanctified! Something is on-going, yes.. we are being made holy and sanctified in all of our behavior, and this is akin to our OS being updated accordingly. We are fully sanctified. We, as people have been sanctified, but our thoughts and our attitudes are being made holy in a loving, Spirit-led process.
You can be holy on the outside because you are holy in the inside. You can choose to set apart because you have been set apart in the inside. It's not that you fake it till you make it - You make it because you were made from the inside! The Christian life is not 'fake it', but 'believe and know who you are in Christ!' Christ shared His righteousness, sanctification, and holiness with us through infusion, not just declaration! It's who we are because it's who Christ is, and all we could do is really just to take it in!
This is what's real, so get real! Halleluyah!
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May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26