11 January 2014
This meditation is based on Ephesians 2.
The spirit of the world has taught us to measure ourselves by what we accomplish. In school, we learn we only get good grades if we study hard. At church, we learn we only please God if we do good works. So our minds have been trained to believe our blessings depend on our efforts and our will to do good. This attitude is not any different than the attitude of the pharisees, who believed to be right they should obey the law. These humanistic ideas of striving to be right has led the church to an identity crisis. The church is defining itself by its works and not by His work.
Jesus Christ, full of mercy and compassion, saw the trap of self-righteousness all humanity fell into so He gave himself up, taking our place and our punishment on our behalf. Today, thanks to His work, we can receive His righteousness, which only comes by believing in His finished work. When we receive His righteousness, we do not get what we deserve. Instead, we get what Jesus deserves. His righteousness and perfect work at the cross surpasses our works in such a way that in Him we are no longer called sinners but we are called the righteousness of God in Christ. And that is our true identity.
Not knowing who we are in Christ produces a mentality of striving, which only leads to destruction and sin. That is the reason why Paul in Ephesians 2 has to remind the church of their true identity. He tells them they are not defined for what they do anymore. Instead, they are defined by the work of Christ.
Notice in the following verses, Paul proclaims the work of Christ has made the church alive. In this way, Paul is reminding them their works do not have any part in making them alive. Their position in Christ was not earned. It was a gift of love and grace.
AMP Ephesians 2:4 But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, 5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). 6 And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
In other words, Paul is telling the church: "When we were not believers in Christ, we were sinners but now we are in Christ. In Christ we are alive! We are seated in heavenly places! We are not far away from him! Our behavior has nothing to do with our salvation. We were dead in our sins! There is nothing we could ever do to make ourselves alive. It was His great love that saved us from our self-righteousness and made us alive in Him. We no longer need to perform. We only need to receive the love He has given us.
AMP Ephesians 2:8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; 9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
There is nothing more liberating than knowing our works don't matter at all. They cannot bring salvation to us! Only His work will bring salvation to us, only His work can bring salvation to our families, our finances, our health and relationships. By the way, salvation does not only mean going to heaven. Remember, God is telling us in Ephesians 2:6 we are in heaven right now because HE made us sit with Him in heavenly places. It is a done deal! So enjoy your stance in heaven today.
When we try to perform, we are giving place to the flesh. If we give room to our flesh, sin will reign and flourish. That is the reason why is so important to remember who we are in Christ. So church remember: You are not dead in your sins anymore, you are alive in Christ. You are not separated from Him. So start focusing on his work and stop trying to perform! Stop trying to do right. God is the one who has made you right. He is the one who brought you near. When you believe you are right with God you will effortlessly live right by the power of the Holy Spirit because it is who you are not who you are "trying" to be.
AMP18 For it is through Him that we both [whether far off or near] now have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father [so that we are able to approach Him].19 Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household.
P.S If you don't feel comfortable in leaving works behind to trust only in Jesus' work, I invite you to read the verses in this post: "Justification by Faith not by Works" Written by my wonderful husband.