Christ Our Life – Part 1

Devotional for Today, August 21, 2018

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.  God laid on Jesus the sin of the world; therefore, Christ died for you and for me.  When we accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, we are born again and are sealed with the Holy Spirit. That means that the Spirit of Christ comes to live in us.  Thus we begin the Christian life; and now a battle begins.  We want to show Christ how much we love him by following him and imitating his life; but that is easier said than done.

The apostle Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ…” And to the Colossians, he wrote,  “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  To the Corinthian church, he wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.”  What does this all mean?  It means that Jesus died a substitutionary death for us; when he died, we died, too.  But once we begin this Christian walk, we find that we are still very much alive.  I’m still there; and my “self,” or old nature, always tries to reassert itself.  The very nature of  “Me” is self-seeking; and that self nature causes trouble in my life.

Any sense of rejection we may experience comes from our self life being wounded; all resentment comes because our flesh nature has gotten hurt; all efforts to seek compliments from others come because we want to bolster the esteem of our “self.”  We know that these negatives can’t be coming from Jesus in us, because Jesus has no self-pity, no anger, no record of wrongs.  So I’m left with this:  I know how I’m supposed to be, and I want to be like Christ, but I can’t shake who I am.

But here’s the victory that many times eludes us as Christians:  The apostle Paul tells us that Christ not only died for us; but that he’s also alive for us.  He not only wants to be your substitute and mine in the death that we all deserved because of our sins; he also wants to be our life!  He wants to give us his thoughts and his desires.

How few know him as their life!  Oh, we know him as our example, and we try to work with ourselves to become more like Jesus.  Nevertheless, as soon as we make a promise, saying, “I’m going to be more loving... I’m going to be humble... I’m not going to let anger get the best of me,” we soon find ourselves breaking the promise; and then we get discouraged.  How can this be when all we’re trying to do is to imitate Jesus?  The thing is that in doing so, we’re actually trying to improve “self.”  But I am who I am— self-seeking by nature.  And I can’t change!

Let’s understand this once and for all:  God never works with your flesh.  He doesn’t want you to be a better person.  He is not going to work to improve or disciple your old, self nature.  What he will do is give you another life, with new desires, new longings, and new ways of thinking.

The solution, then, is to die to yourself so that Jesus can live through you.  If you are a boaster or a gossip or hot-tempered, God won’t work with your flesh to calm you down.  You have to die to yourself.  That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).  

The reality that every Christian has to face if they want to live a victorious Christian life is the fact that Jesus is our life.  If we see our flesh asserting itself, we have to say, “Jesus! I need you!”

To be continued…

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

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