If there is a belief that causes many of us to stumble along in a semi-christianity it is the old covenant masquerading as normal christian living. We have the new covenant which is Christ our life. But many do not know or receive Him as our life. They think Christ our life is Christian living. But that’s not Him. It’s us. Our life is the person of Jesus in us manifesting as us.
Many have been short-changed by ‘christianity’ in the form of a try- harder mentality of good works and a selective avoidance of bad deeds. Here sexual sin can occupy centre stage and social sin and the injustices of the economic system are ignored and even justified. The result of this subtle un-gospel of works is lack of transformation, an absence of peace and an inability to enjoy the Sabbath rest that is Jesus for us, Jesus in us and Jesus our life.
We are joined to the fullness of God by the One Spirit.
I have a friend who cannot make anything of Romans 8, mainly because she is locked in to earning her own salvation. In this passage Paul says that all has been done by God that needs to be done. We are freed from condemnation and graced to live in the Spirit. By graced, we are liberated from the law, from try harder mentalities and the hoops that the religious make for each other to jump through. To be graced means to be liberated from our self-condemnation to live in the innocence of Jesus’ life. To be freed from the law and its punctilious requirements to live in the Spirit who is the Spirit of Christ in us and as us. To be graced is to enjoy Christ’s life as our life, despite our performance and to be graced by the increase of His person in our being.
Let’s be clear. The bottom line is not your performance or lack of it. The bottom line is that you are forever one with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You have life because you are freed from guilt. You have life because He imparts His spirit-life to you. You have life because the life He imparts into your spirit is infinite and eternal.
‘Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ John 6.53 NIV.
This fresh, gushing, infinite life that is Jesus and the Spirit of God in you is personal, intimate and anti-dullness, anti-illness and totally anti-death. It is life to the full. I suspect that being filled with the Spirit of God not only heals our wounded souls. It helps to ward of disease, both physical and mental. You will banquet on the essence of life when your life is Jesus in person and in spirit and truth.
Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ John 4.13,14 NIV.
Then Jesus emphasises that it is not religious motions and stances that produce life. It is He Himself and that we are worshipers in spirit and in truth when He is our life.
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”John 4.19-24 NIV.
Jesus spoke little on sin and much on life because He is life. He warned that outside of Him we are robbed of life and subject to fantasies and follies. But in Him we have life without limit.
The movie Dead Poet’s Society drew a contrast between the humdrum of everyday, mediocre living and the spontaneity and exhilaration of life to the full. The movie ended in tragedy because a boy chose death over the conformist un-life valued by his father. You have a different Father do this; a Father who empowers you to be who you are by drawing you into Himself to fill you with His life. This is the Spirit of Sonship and it is where you suck the marrow out of life. You can live the humdrum of religious conformity and be a living dead or Christ can be your life. Here you are chockablock with liberty, life and spirit - the spirit which alone comes from God and is without limit.
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you’ Rom 8.11 NIV.
Life in the Spirit is a gift. Our Christ life in the new covenant is an inheritance we have been given. It is ours through no work of our own. We have nothing to deserve it. It is the prize that is ours because Father has given us His Son to be our life. No longer alienated sons, not separated sons but sons who are one with our Father in spirit and in truth because we are in Christ and Christ is in God and is God.
The new covenant - our present life in Christ - is not a contract. There is no ‘If you do this, God will do that’ about it.’ It is ‘You are a son who is loved and whose real life is the Son of God alive and manifesting in your person.’ This new covenant life is not something you have earned. And since it is what it is, irrespective of what you do, it cannot be annulled or spoiled by you. It is what it is: Life in the Spirit of Sonship.
But humans being what we are turn naturally to the flesh with our need to demonstrate that we have some dignity in ourselves, some fragment of honour and worth arising from valiant effort and a noble response to what Jesus has done. So we transform that which was a gift into a contract. “God has done this for me so I must do this for Him to be deserving.”
Our carnal heart reasons that since Jesus has been so kind and ultra-loving to me, I must demonstrate that I am worth His passion, His cross and His agony - so I will scurry about, construct my own performance routine and make a bid to assemble some self-worth of my own.
But in doing this we undo the cross, crucify the Son of God anew and become a shell of who we could be. Our folly is that we are saying that His cross was not enough to cover the extent and subtly of all our compulsions to demonstrate self-worth.
We might attempt to demonstrate self-worth by Christian workaholism or more subtly as an adherent of religious pieties and conformity to our church norms. None of this is spirit or light. The sad fact is those caught in the illusion of Christian busyness are often those least sensitive of the Kingdom of spirit and life and most opposed to the extravagance of God’s life in the Spirit. The effect is that even when they do their works of charity there is no spirit and life and hence no Kingdom of God in what they do. In this case Jesus will sometimes allow us to become exhausted and expire as a result of our own futility until we ‘see’ the new and living way of Christ our life. Or in the case of the most obstinate His grace must covers us while we live our lives in ‘shallows and in miseries’ until we at last see His inheritance for us on the other side.