Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Identity in Christ - 34 (Justified)

The Jews and the Romans were both people of the law. Law and keeping the law were central to their natures and views of life. Being "justified" is the legal handling of sin, in view of the cross.
Paul points out early in many of his writings that all people break the law. As a matter of fact, no one can keep the law. It is impossible.
God did not give us the law so we could have a right relationship with him. God gave us the law so we could realize it is impossible for a right relationship with him, on the basis of what we do.
Sin has so thoroughly corrupted our character and nature, that the law only gives us urges to break it. So, as far as the law is concerned, we are all guilty. We all deserve punishment.
So, God needed a different way to complete his plan. (The plan: to reclaim his family, to restore his kingdom, to restore his original design.) This new way had to maintain all the legalities.
  • It had to keep the law.
  • It had to punish wrong-doers. (Which is everybody.)
  • It had to do it in a way that would allow him to reclaim people, establish relationship with them, but show that he was serious about sin and rebellion.
Of course that new way was the Cross.
  • The Cross kept the law.
  • The Cross punished all sin.
  • The Cross allowed God to establish relationship with all people, because all people were "in Christ" on the Cross.
All people were "in Christ" so Jesus represented all people. All people were "in Christ" so Jesus was a substitute for all people. Everyone's sin has already been punished.
  • God's Perspective
As far as God is concerned, sin has been taken care of. He has done his part. Everyone who lives, will live, or did live, can come to him in peace, come into relationship with him, become a member of his family, and take part in his plan.
As we all know, not everyone does. Many people feel they can do the impossible, ie. keep the law. Or they develop some other theory of what is wrong with the world, and the solution, then they try to implement that.
God's heart is that everyone will come to him, and take advantage of what he has provided.
  • Living My Life
In all things, my heart should be the same as God's heart. If God's heart is that everyone should come to him, then that means two things for my life.
(Obviously, it might mean more than two things. I am only going to discuss two today.)
First, I should come to God. I should recognize that my relationship with God is broken, and that I cannot fix it. He has the answer and I should take advantage of it.
It is not quite like fire insurance. I am entering into a relationship. I am becoming part of a family. I am having a heart re-creation. New DNA. New attitudes, actions, motivations, priorities and values. Agreeing with the "fire insurance" means I agree with everything else.
Second, if God's heart is for everyone to come, then my heart should be for everyone to come. I cannot influence everyone. That's why God put us into a family. I can influence someone. And everyone in my family can influence someone. Hopefully, then we will have everyone covered. And if not, we need to go and find those who are not covered. God went a long way to benefit us. We can go a-ways too.
There are three ways we can express God's heart.
We can pray. We can pray for workers. Many in God's family do not see their obligation for those not in God's family yet. God has certainly tried to teach them. God has tried to teach us stuff too. And for some reason, we didn't get it. So, we pray for "turned on light bulbs", for willing hearts, and able minds and bodies.
And we can pray for "turned on light bulbs" in another area too. The enemy wants to keep people in the dark. He lies and deceives. He lies to the family to keep them from important things ... like this. He lies to the un-family, so they will think about anything and everything else ... but Jesus. So, we pray for light and truth. We pray that any lie will be rendered ineffective. And we pray that hearts will be focused on Jesus.
Second, people need to "see" Jesus. We certainly cannot reveal him perfectly. But we can give people an impression of Jesus. We can give, love and serve. We can have Jesus' attitudes about people. And we can show them what a relationship with Jesus should look like.
Lastly, we can explain "things" to people. Relationship with the Father leads to living a certain lifestyle. It is the relationship that generates the lifestyle. Many people will try to emulate the lifestyle, thinking that is following Jesus. But the heart is not changed. The person is not really following Jesus, but only pretending to. Soon. he'll stop pretending, say "that's not for me!" and go onto something else. And he will miss being in a relationship with the Father, because he thought he was.
Anyone, with a real relationship with the Father, knows that it is more than completing a "to-do" list. There is a heart change, giving allegiance and entrusting one's world. Some people will pick this up by "spiritual osmosis." Some people will need to have it explained to them. And it's better to be sure, and explain.
NOTE: There is a common attitude among Christians today, that the primary function of God's family is the "adoption process." In other words, the only thing God's family needs to be concerned with is getting those not in God's family to become part bof God's family.
The birth of a child is a vital part of any family. But any parent will tell you, that's only the beginning. There is feeding, cleaning, dirty diapers, scrapes and falls, education (including walking, riding a bike and throwing a baseball).
Jesus knew this too. That's why God's family is not just an adoption agency or birthing center. It is a family. It facilitates a birth, helps the children learn to walk, to read and write, to play well with others ... all the way up to and including the point where the child facilitates a birth of another child, helps the new child learn to walk, read and write, etc. etc, so one and so forth.

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