The Life I Now Live
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 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. -Galatians 2:19-20
Do you find yourself fighting an uphill battle against sin? Do you work excessively yet never seem to make progress? Do you try to be good but do not feel any closer to God? I have good news and bad news.
Here's the bad news first: God demands perfection. As long as you keep trying to be good and trying to work hard enough for God, you will only seal yourself for failure and condemnation. There is no way that you could ever work hard enough or be good enough for God. He will not accept anything less than perfection.
Here's the good news: Christ died and rose again, taking our place. Because of this, we do not have to suffer condemnation because of our failure to keep God's law. When we accept Christ's free gift of salvation, his blood covers us, and God sees us as perfect.
But don't think that you can go on living the same way after being covered in the blood of Jesus! Christ's salvation, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, says that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. In Galatians 2:19-20, Paul says that he quit being a man who followed the law and started to be a man who followed God. He rightly says that this life he lives is no longer his. Jesus bought us with his blood. We are his, not our own. We cannot buy ourselves back. We are completely in his possession. So the lives that we live are no longer our own lives, but Jesus'.
Brothers and sisters, if you are living your life trying to "be good" or "stop sinning," you are completely wasting your time! Stop trying to be good. Stop trying to not sin. You are a new person! You no longer have a compartmentalized life. You do not have a private life where you can worship peacefully in private and live out your Christianity with just you and Jesus and a public life where you tread softly and try not to step on any toes. Christianity is not about following rules or being good. It is a changed life. You are literally a new person in public and private. Following Christ effects all spheres of your existence. Just like a potter taking a lump of clay and making it into a pot, it changes your very being. That's why we are called to lose our life for Christ's sake (Mark 8:35) and pick up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23). Our old self, our old passions, our old cares are to be replaced by those of Christ through the dwelling of his Holy Spirit inside of us. We must not just follow rules, but we must live out our faith! That is why Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 to "be an example of speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity."
"God, now that I am following you, may others see a change in my life. Help me to live out my faith and be an example of you to others. Help me to not get caught up in following rules. Rather, may I live a life that glorifies you. I know I will make mistakes, but may I learn more about what it means to die to myself and pick up my cross because of those mistakes. I love you. May I walk with your Holy Spirit empowering me. Amen."