Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Grace, Part 2

Philemon 17-19 portrays our position and security in Christ. We are the erring and sinful slave, running away from God. Like Adam, and every descendant since, we are naturally inclined to resist and avoid God, fearing His holiness and ashamed of our inability to measure up to His perfection. Deep within we understand that we cannot meet God’s standard of righteousness so we go about attempting to erect our own in its stead, one that we will be comfortable with. God sent Christ as the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty our sins deserved, and to open a way back to Him. Now the guilty sinner washed by Christ’s blood in faith, may return to His God without shame, and without attempting to merit what is hopeless: that is, a perfection that God would find pleasing. When we are found and overcome by our Lord like Paul was on the Damascus road we are not only cleansed of our sin due to the value and efficacy of Jesus’ blood, we are adopted into the household of faith by virtue of the One who found us. “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ,” Galatians 4:7.

Christ pleads His blood at God’s throne, and when God looks upon a redeemed saint He sees the image of His beloved Son being formed in us by the power and presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. What is owed to God is paid by Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. The act of redemption is to purchase something back that had been sold. We had been sold into sin, but Jesus bought us back with His blood. As Paul said of Onesimus, if we owe anything or have wronged our God it is put on Christ’s account. He has paid for it! The depths of the riches of God’s grace are unfathomable! These unsearchable riches are found within Christ our Lord; and the amazing, condescending grace given freely by our Father in Heaven! We are God’s, and as such we should now live for the One who died for us, and furthermore eternally lives for us as High Priest and Apostle.

These three verses in this small epistle reflect the glory of the redemption Christ affected when He offered Himself to God on the cross, Hebrews 9:14-15. The covenant of grace outshines the covenant of the law in every facet of its fiber. The law was man-centered; it was the God-given ordinance to Israel that demanded obedience but gave no power to perform what was commanded. Grace is Christ-centered; it is the God-given gift of His Son who perfects and establishes every despairing soul that comes to Him for cleansing, John 6:37. The Son perfected and put away the law, and by dying abolished the necessity of obeying it: a hopeless feat. By believing on Jesus Christ we die to the law and become alive to God. Being dead to the law sin and death have no more authority over a saint; our life is hid with Christ in God; in truth Christ Himself is our life when we are born again. We are freed from the debt we owe to God so we may freely live for Him. We may now exercise obedience to God through the Spirit. It is no longer an endeavor to please God or merit salvation; it is a return to a state mankind was intended to enjoy: personal fellowship and submission to our Creator and Savior. We are remade in the image of Him (Christ) who created us, Colossians 3:10.

Christ was obedient to death; His whole life was lived to please not Himself, but His Father in Heaven. This is our example, and we would do well to follow our Lord, seeing the purity and power demonstrated throughout His life. Do we wish to feel the draining and wearying effects of sin weaken in us? Practice obedience to God, and allow His will to reign in your life. Dear Christians, it is not as though we forfeit our will; our will should so align and conform in due time to Christ’s will that deviation between the two should gradually narrow. This is the Holy Spirit’s desire for us, and this is the purpose of sanctification, salvation from sin’s power to still lord over us.

Contemplating these three verses really made me ponder. What has God done for us? Everything! Our God is altogether good, and has created an entrance into His presence though His Son, John 14:6. For saints we are encouraged and commanded to walk in the Spirit; here we will find peace and strength in this life, and reward in the next. We were all an Onesimus at one point; but will we remain that way? God give us wisdom to understand the infinite value of Christ, and the privilege of living our life in His power and Spirit. Amen.

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