You may have been raised in a religious culture where if it was agreed that God was for you it was only just. If God was trustworthy it was more that He could be trusted to see the worst in you or uncover some hidden perfidy that defined you as a sinner. If you were told that God is love, you learned that this love was well hidden under a demanding nature and a ‘this hurts me more than it hurts you’ outlook. These intimations belong to religion and come from the Father of Lies. Since Eden there has been an unremitting attempt to slander Father, diminish the fullness of Jesus and ignore Holy Spirit. But in Christ these myths are removed.
Religion purports that life is about not being alive. Yet Jesus spoke of life without limit. Not a few have absorbed the view that God is mean and that meanness has a lot to do with holiness. And since He is about law then He must be into condemnation. But there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. God is love and love is defined as Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ reveals our Father and Jesus and our Father are one. To see Jesus is to see our Father. Just make sure you have a real Jesus and not a false christ who has been reinvented as a lackey of the law.
There are gospels that specialize in guilt and fear. Many model a try harder view of being a godly person. There are self-centered gospels that are pretty much centered about us and our destiny. These have little to do with the Kingdom of God.
Some gospels emphasize obedience which, I must say, we have little capacity to give. Genuine obedience is found in living from Christ is our life. We have been given union with Father entirely on account of Jesus and His accomplishments. Jesus is our obedience. If we have a thing about ‘obedience’ then we must set about living in the new covenant and embracing the vicarious humanity of Jesus in spirit and in truth.
Our relationship with God is Jesus. In Jesus we live in His grace and His transformation. The genuine obedience, the obedience of the kind that produces the most fruit, is to agree with God that the bottom line is not our performance. It is Christ’s performance. To be branches and fruits of Jesus we must join Him in His new covenant and abandon the old. Obedience aligns us with God’s views about Himself and us. They are better and more generous than our own and free of the misgivings about Father and the condemnation of self that is the fabric of religion.
We have life and this life is in His Son.
If Christ is my life, and He is, then Christ’s relationship with Father is my relationship. A prophetic person told me once, ‘Father wants you to know that nothing you can ever do can separate you from His presence and love.’
We need to know that. Live in it and obey it. This is the only way we can be Godly. Since hearing this message I have also seen it taught by several contemporary authors. I believe it is what Jesus wants His people to know and rejoice in. The cool thing about a life in God, which is a life in Jesus Christ is that you get to be yourself - not some religious gnat swatter or a clone of some leader.
‘Be Holy because I am holy’ has been achieved for us. Our part is to believe and live in the reality He has created. I know of no scripture that asserts that we can live sinlessly this side of heaven. I do know that ‘If we say we have no sin, we lie.’ Father in His Son is both our grace and our life. We are graced because we are loved. Transformation is the fruit of this love and of Christ in us. Yet transformation is not the bottom line. The bottom line is forgiveness, grace and life.
Of ourselves we have no power to be consistently holy – unless we redefine this downwards to suit our performance. I have seen that sins that caused me shame as a young person can suddenly reveal their presence unexpectedly when I am old. This is why we need to rejoice in Christ our life and not fret about performing our way into Godliness. There is an atmosphere of peace and grace about us when we live in Him, even if we do stumble.
‘Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling’ Phil 2.12 NIV.
To live in law is to misrepresent God and cripple ourselves. ‘Working out our salvation’ is not about adding something to Christ or subtracting from Him and retreating into law. It is a discipline. It means resolutely grasping the gift that is so generous and extravagant that it can offend our sense of religiosity or honour. Our work is to believe in our Father and His Son whom He has sent to be our life.
‘Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV.
We have been made the dwelling of God. Any improvement in our deportment by way of increased patience, love and purity comes about more because God is in us sharing Himself into our being than it does by reading scripture and attempting to apply these precepts by acts of the will. This is what Paul meant by Christ ‘being formed in us.’
We are not ‘a project’ to Father. Wives who ‘projectise’ their husbands or family diminish and alienate them. We are deeply loved daughters and sons. The holiness of God has more to do with His inclusionary nature than holding sinless perfection over our heads. It is His unlimited grace and unconditional love that secures us in His presence where we can ‘know Him as He is’ and become ‘changed.’ Yet the comfort that is our inheritance comes not from our changing but from His heart , His embrace of our person and our place in His heart.
In Father we will be sons/daughters in spirit and in truth. In Him we acquire our real identity and are propelled into our true destiny to minister His Kingdom as the person we were designed to be. In the new creation, we are one with God in a way that none were in the old creation. Living as sons, ministry flows from our person and being . Not necessarily from a Bible Study or from some role or professional designation. This is what life in the Spirit is: Christ manifest in the flesh in day to day living.
Shepherd Mbate explains the difference between living from law and duty and living as sons from love. ‘The paramount factor which leads to repentance is not the possibility of being accepted or loved by God. Rather it is the acknowledgment of how much you are already loved . . . Repentance is all about realizing God’s mind about us and coming to agree with what the Father believes about us. This is the total opposite of remorse which is usually influenced by guilt-consciousness and fear. It does nothing to help a person live a life of their authentic design. Rather it keeps them caged in the ‘I am not good enough lie.’
‘And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son’ 1 John 5.11 NIV.