One of the biggest areas that I struggled with in the past, was the idea that I was waging a constant battle to “improve myself”.
– Improve my performance – to commit less sinful actions
– To look more like Jesus, meaning basically the same thing, to commit less sinful actions
– To never be comfortable, but always in this constant war to try and become what God wanted me to be.
This feeling was spurned on by the Christians around me who said things like: If you’re comfortable in your Christianity, you’re doing it wrong. A phrase which always struck me as a bit of a dangling-carrot. Did Jesus die to subject us to further futility? Is the work complete or isn’t it? Did Jesus only perform a half-redemption?
I have since come to realize that I am not alone in these questions. And millions of Christians around the globe are on a mental and spiritual treadmill. Constantly running to try and reach an unreachable goal. Never being satisfied, and never feeling any comfort – because if they dared to, they would be a “lukewarm Christian” in their view.
Well, today we are going to examine this, as we have a discussion about being secure in Christ.
Now all of these thoughts, of needing to improve, do better, be more like Christ, stop sinning, (et al.), may come in many forms, but ultimately boil down to one single question: Did Jesus actually finish the work? I invite you to take some time and consider this question with me – because while the question may seem simple, it has far-reaching implications.
You see, all of these thoughts and feelings of needing to do something, be better, perform better, they all carry a sense of something left unfinished or undone. There’s still something left to do, and so we naturally want to do it. We want to reach the finish line; where one day – far off in the distance – we finally get to rest and enjoy our reward. That’s the typical thought.
I had these exact same thoughts myself, and spurned-on by those same religious leaders that I mentioned earlier, I took my job very seriously. I kept a logbook of my sins, and marked my daily performance on my calendar to make sure that I always confessed, and redoubled my efforts to improve. Yes I took it that seriously.
And do you know what the result of this was? Did I get amazing close to God? Was I filled with holiness? No… all I got was pain, guilt and condemnation. Even so much as physical sickness that would’ve killed me!
Is that surprising? It certainly was for me! Now why did this happen? To make a very long story short, after God pulled me out of all of that and saved me physically and spiritually, He told me.
The reason why I was suffering, was because I wasn’t accepting the suffering of Jesus in my place!
Think about it… did Jesus actually finish the work, or not? Are you a reborn new creation in Christ, or aren’t you? Did Jesus pay for your sins, or didn’t He? And, most aptly, did Jesus redeem your life, or didn’t He?
If He did, then that should change our perspective of how we see ourselves, and the truth of our spiritual identity. This is what I failed to consider in the past. Rather than looking at what Jesus has accomplished, I was entirely focused on my own accomplishments and performance. And there are many others out there who are making the exact same mistake as I was. They are stuck in the same trap of performance and religion, just as I was.
The very foundation of the New Covenant, is the finished work of Christ, and the effect of that finished work.
To a certain extend, we seem to have forgotten what the finished work of Christ actually has accomplished for us. We know that He did “something” on that cross, but we fail to consider exactly what. And so we live our lives in large part as though nothing has really changed. We still struggle against the flesh, still wage war against sinful actions, and still live with a burden of guilt and a remembrance of sin on our mind and conscience.
Now I ask you: Is that a secure life in Christ? Is this kind of living really what Jesus suffered so severely for?
The scriptures tell us a different story. One not of effort and anguish, but one of power and victory in Christ. A story not of continual focus on sin and shame, but a story continual focus on Jesus, and your new identity in Him! And that my dear friend, is an identity that you can have joy and peace in!
In Jeremiah 31:34, the LORD says I will forgive iniquity and remember sin no more.
He says this regarding the new covenant that He will make (which Jesus Christ brought into effect). And it is the covenant that we are living in today right now.
This is actually a very important point. Many people are still living as though they are still under the Old Covenant, rather than the new. This goes back to the mindset that I was describing earlier.
In the Old Covenant, there was a remembrance of sins day upon day and year upon year.
In the Old Covenant, continual sacrifices and confession was required.
In the Old Covenant, the High Priest would never be done with his job, because he would need to continually offer sacrifices, and he himself would need to be cleansed.
This is not the same as the New Covenant. Ask yourself this question: If God has forgiven your iniquity and vows to not remember your sin, then what right do you have to remember your sin?
Why are you hanging on to something which God has done away with?
Often what we have done is place a patch of Jesus on top of our Old Covenant mindset, and we think that’s enough. But Jesus said in Matthew 9:16: that you cannot put a patch of new cloth on an old garment. If you try, it will tear and both will be lost!
Likewise, if you try to simply patch the Old Covenant with a bit of Jesus, it will tear apart and both will be lost. Jesus did not come to simply patch the Old system – He came to fulfill the Old and usher in the New system, not based on our efforts, but based on His sacrifice once and for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)
In the New Covenant, there is no remembrance of sin because Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice. Again you do not need to take my word for this, it is stated quite plainly in Hebrews 10:1-10)
In the New Covenant, guilt should not be our constant companion, because there is no one to accuse us, nor is there any condemnation in Christ. Look at Romans 8:33-34:
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.
Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
This should have an effect on our mindset, and is the basis for our rebirth in Christ.
“Laying a charge” is the accusation, and “condemnation” is the judgment. Both are taken care of by Christ. Yet many do not recognize that. Many live under a constant fear of judgment, and always carry around the burden of numerous accusations.
My dear friend, that is not being secure in Christ.
Returning to our previous text of Hebrews chapter 10, drop down to verses 19 through 22:
“Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And having an high priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
This is how we should approach God today, and as you can see, it is very different than the way most people try to approach God.
Most Christians approach God still in humiliation, and shame, and guilt. Still very much conscious of their old sins and old self. There is no security or peace there! Such an identity does not factor the finished work of Christ into the equation!
However what we see in the verses is that we should approach God… our Father, with boldness! This boldness is not out of place, because it is boldness that we rightfully have by the blood of Jesus Christ! His blood was spilled for us to have this boldness – it is more rude to refuse such a wonderful gift!
Second, we can see that we approach God through a new and living way. This is not the old and dead way of the Old Covenant, or the dead works of our own self-effort. Rather we approach God through the New Covenant of Christ and the new life which He has given to us through the offering of Himself and our rebirth into Christ.
Third, we can see that we draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith. This is the only truly true heart that exists. The only way to really have a true heart is in full assurance of faith. Our heart can never be true if we are trying to have assurance in ourselves. Our heart will always be unstable and shaking if it relies on our own efforts and performance. But with full assurance of faith, our heart can be true, one-hundred-percent of the time.
Why is this so? Because we have been sprinkled from an evil conscience. Through Christ we have been cleansed from the conscience that was burdened with sin and shame. The Old identity is dead and gone, and now we live through the new identity which He has given to us.
And our bodies have been washed with pure water. Namely the water of Christ. When Moses struck the rock in Exodus 17:6, water flowed from it. And when Jesus was pierced on the cross, blood and water flowed from His side in John 19:4; His blood was spilled, and the cleansing water came forth.
And now you are clean.
This is the security that you have today in Christ, my friend. Yes He has finished the work, and yes, you can and should be completely secure in what He has done for you.
– Be blessed.