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…the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 1 John 2:8

Sometimes when we share our faith we seem to talk through both sides of our mouth. One moment we share about a life changing, life giving, transformative relationship with God and the other we say, “We are just like everyone else—sinners.”

Those who have been raised in Christian circles may not see anything confusing about this but to the world we’re saying: “The only thing that separates me and you is my mental assent / belief that Jesus is God.” Or worse, “God had mercy on me, but not you, yet.”

The gospel isn’t simply forgiveness vs punishment. Jesus took the penalty for our sins but he also made it possible for us to live in a new way. Because of his death and resurrection we no longer have to live as prisoners to our flesh. We have the opportunity, empowered by grace, to begin to live in light, life, and love.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9:2

God doesn’t just forgive us and leave us as we are… he shines into our darkness, fills us with his spirit, gives us new hearts, renews our minds—basically, he re-creates us. We don’t need to walk in condemnation or fear, nor do we have to make peace with our sins.

The moment Christ begins his work in us, the darkness and death that once dominated our souls begins to give way to the Spirit of Christ. Death literally starts working backwards.

But we’re still human—we are flesh and blood. Christ did not come to rescue us from our humanity, he came to rescue us from our sins. The struggle to lay hold of all that Christ has already purchased for us is exactly that: a struggle. And the journey lasts a lifetime.

Salvation (from sin) is a process. I’m not referring to salvation from hell or eternal torment, I am referring to salvation from sin itself. (If you’ve never considered this as part of God’s gospel work in you, I would encourage you to dive into the Scriptures again.)

The Old Testament teaches us that God’s work—rescue, redemption, and revelation—takes time. Israel wandered in a wilderness, experienced actual slavery, etc.. Their salvation experience—learning to depend on God and how honor him in the way he deserves to be honored, took hundreds of years. And no one in recorded history lived their life perfectly. Every single “hero of the faith” found themselves struggling at some point.

The New Testament teaches us that now that Christ has come and defeated death, we can begin to live in a new way. We can learn from those who went before us and we can also begin to walk in the newness of life that was purchased for us through Christ’s death and attained through his resurrection.

The good news is that Christ defeated death and sin that reigned in this world and even over the people God knew by name. We have been set free to serve in “a new and living way.”

So, what does a life of freedom and light look like? Does it mean we don’t struggle with sin or experience temptation? No. It means that for the first time, we do struggle—because we don’t want it anymore. We choose to fight back with the weapons God had given to us. If we fall, he picks us up, cleans us up, and sets us on the path again. But the gospel teaches us that falling is no longer inevitable. We do not have to make peace with our sin. We can, moment by moment, lean into the life we were always meant to have and experience all that comes with that—including freedom from sin that so easily entangles us.

We don’t need to adopt a reward/punishment mentality and live in constant fear of losing the gift we’ve been given. We also don’t have to accept God’s gracious gift and then trample his grace underfoot by refusing to allow his spirit to work freedom in us.

What if we, as followers of Jesus, received the gift of salvation (Jesus), embraced it for what it is (who he is), found our security in it (him), and moment by moment chose to lean into grace, live out our faith, without fear of punishment or failure, but with absolute confidence in his faithfulness and his promises to us? What if we were truly confident that if we sin we have an advocate but equally confident that God can and wants to keep us from sinning?

While we were sinners, Christ died for us.

He raised us with him and seated us in heavenly places with Christ.

While we live in this world we will constantly need Jesus to help us overcome the lusts of our flesh.

We will never get to a place where we don’t need him every moment.

He is our security and confidence, not just someday, but now.

He is our salvation and comfort, not just someday, but now.

I have never felt more secure in Jesus than I do right now and I have also never felt my need for change more than I do right now. The closer we get to Jesus the more we see our need, the more thankful we are for his mercy, the more we discover his powerful grace (Titus 2:11-14).

When we can’t, he can.
If we fail, he forgives.
When we need strength, he provides it.

What a beautiful Savior who understands our deepest desires and needs and failures and loves us and accepts us as we are…

But doesn’t leave us as we are…

He begins his work the moment we choose to trust in him and he will be faithful to complete that work.

Let’s embrace this gospel and share it… it’s less confusing… it’s life giving… it’s hope.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . . For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:25-28

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set youb free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin. He thus condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous standard of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.

“You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alivee because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the deadf will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8

Stephanie Staples

Author Stephanie Staples

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