Moving from Theory to Reality – July 2015

2-Cor-5-17“In the beginning God created… And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image…” (Genesis 1:1, 26, 27). God created mankind with a specific purpose in mind: that we would reflect His image and likeness to the universe. Not just in outward form and features, but more importantly, in character. God said, “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7). God created us so that His glory (which is His goodness – Exodus 33:18, 19) could be revealed to the universe. Rather than making robots, God made mankind with a free will to choose to follow Him or go our own way.

Unfortunately, something went wrong very quickly. Mankind ate of the forbidden fruit and God’s image was marred. Immediately things changed. Whereas before, he was delighted to meet his Creator, after man sinned he was afraid and hid from God (Genesis 3:10). Imagine how God felt when this happened! Suppose you come home from work to greet your children and they run and hide in the closet trembling. How would that make you feel? Some-thing had to be done to repair this broken relationship and restore the image of God in His children. Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He came not to save “who,” but “what” was lost. What was lost was the ability for man to be what he was created to be—the image of God. The image of God was lost when man sinned, and Jesus came to restore it.

What was Lost

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Adam and Eve were told that if they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree they would die. Yet death is not the worst part of it. Death is a side effect of the loss of the image of God in humanity. God had a plan in place that if man would sin, He would make a way to restore His image to mankind. God sent “…his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:3, 4).

The “righteousness of the law” is “the righteousness of God” (Romans 3:21, 22), it is His own character. God said, “For this is the [new] covenant …I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts…” (Hebrews 8:10). It is not a list of do’s and don’ts that God puts in our hearts, but the living law, “the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” This is what brings freedom from sin and goes far beyond obedience to a list of rules (Matthew 5:20-22, 27, 28, 38-48). The rules are still used as a barometer of your heart, but if you stop with that you will come up short of the plan God created you for (Matthew 19:16-22).

The Bible says of Christ, “…as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). You see, salvation is not about praying a prayer to get your name written in a book so you can live forever. Salvation is about restoring what was lost in Eden by God infusing His Spirit in you to transform your life from the inside out. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The focus is not that we might live forever, but “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.” This is what salvation is all about: transformation. Living forever is a side effect of the plan of salvation, not the end goal. The end goal is the righteousness, even the very image, of God being restored to humanity. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

But I am a Mess

Every one of us has gone astray; we have all gone our own way. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one… For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12, 23). We are all a mess apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit of God.

When Jesus was being nailed to the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Anyone who does anything contrary to God’s pure character of love does not really know what they are doing. If they knew God, and understood how very much He loves them, they would love Him (1 John 4:7, 8). Our Saviour knows our condition is a mess, He knows we have done wrong. That does not surprise Him; He did not expect anything else from those who have lost the image of God. He is not mad at any of us for our failures. Yes, it hurts Him to see the suffering sin has caused, but He knows our frame (Psalms 103:14). He loves us immensely anyway, and it was “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God knew what He was getting when He paid an immense price for you. He knows your value and potential. He wants you to see yourself the way He does because He knows it will change your life.

Being Transformed

God wants us to repent and be transformed and He has a perfect plan to get that accomplished. “…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). It is not the reprimand of God that changes your life, it is the goodness of God that changes you. Your children do not need an angrier dad to change them, but a loving and kind dad. Goodness is magnetic! God leads us, He does not drive us.

Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 34, 36). Freedom from sin is a blessing given to us by Christ. Paul wrote, “…as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19). “Awake to righteousness, and sin not…” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

It is time to awake to righteousness. This can only be done by faith. It all has to do with what you see as reality. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11). This has to do with your outlook, your eye. Jesus said, “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:34-36).

When you see things in your life the way God says they are, then your life will reflect that. If you consider yourself to be dead to sin and alive to righteousness, and live according to that belief, you will be changed. Jesus is inviting us into what we were created for, to reflect the image of God. Jesus is “…the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus doesn’t just forgive our sins, He removes them from us. Acknowledge that sin has been removed from your life as He promised (1 John 1:9) and move forward in that reality.

Look at these amazing promises:

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:11-14).

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).

Living from a New Life

I do not want to live a life of theory but of reality. I am not going to live from the place of where I was, but from the place of what I have become. Everything changes. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am not here to survive. I am not praying for a better day. I am not hoping that all my ducks line up in a row. I am being transformed so that no matter what happens I can shine and make Him known. He didn’t promise me a smooth ride. He promised me everything necessary to be like Him.

The Bible says, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3, 4). All that we need to be transformed has been given us and is accessible by faith in His promises.

“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:30). It is no longer I who calls the shots, I am part of the body of Christ, controlled by Him. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). These are powerful promises and must be accepted to move from theory to reality. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Jesus said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:33-35).

Jesus gave His life that we “might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3). Of the righteous, God says, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalms 1:3). A tree of righteousness is the planting of the Lord. A tree gathers nutrients from the soil where it is planted. God provides the nutrients, the sun, rain, and fruit. Having good fruit is dependent upon being connected to God, the source of all goodness (Mark 10:18).

When you teach someone who they are, then everything changes. Invite Jesus to live in your heart, and accept by faith that He is living in you, then walk in that reality. Your life will not be the same.