“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” Romans 7:4
When Jesus laid down His life for us, it was not done through gritted teeth, but for the joy set before Him, flowing from His great love for us (Hebrews 12:2). To walk in our new life of union with Him, will mean walking in the revelation that our old “self” or single, apart from Him, life…. is dead and buried. Our water baptism is the public proclamation of the death of our single life and the birth of our married—”to Him who was raised from the dead”, life.
When I married Nicola, I laid down my single life. To some it may look like a great sacrifice, to give up the freedom and autonomy of a single life. But I let the single life die because of the joy set before me. The thought of being married to Nicola meant that I never looked back with any regrets. I just asked, “Where do I have to sign!”
A marriage and the life of union that involves, may look from the outside as something which has cost a life-time of sacrifice. But from the viewpoint of the person who loves in that relationship, the truth is that whatever they had to lay down of self, it was worth it, to experience life as the union of two hearts.
Sometimes when our children were infants, sitting in a high chair at the dinner table, they would reach over and grab a knife. Have you ever tried to prise something out of the hand of a child who doesn’t want to let go? We discovered that the easiest way to prompt them to let go, was to offer them something even more shiny and interesting! God too intends that we lay down our old self-sufficient life, not as a sacrifice (with gritted teeth), but as a child lays down one thing to take hold of something more beautiful.
Whenever Christianity is preached as sacrifice and hard work, there has not been the full revelation, that what we lay down is nothing compared to what we receive. The apostle Paul was beaten, whipped, imprisoned, rejected, slandered and abandoned by former friends for years, yet his description of all that was; “our light and momentary troubles.” Yes, there was a cost to walking in union with God, but when he considered the enormity of what he had received, Paul wrote this;
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor 4:17)
When we come to see that life as a New Covenant believer; married to Christ, so surpasses in quality the life of those still married to the law and slaves to sin and self (Romans 6:5-7), only then will we begin to understand why God has appeared for years to remain deaf to all our plans to improve our self-lives!
Here is the Gospel; God will not help you to save your ‘self’ because God doesn’t want your independent, cut off from Him, ‘self’ to be saved! He never made you to be a “self”, to live apart from Him. In fact, God doesn’t know what a self-life is. He has never had one! He has always been an US. In fact, this is the first truth proclaimed in the Bible. “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1) The Hebrew word translated ‘God’ throughout Genesis is “elohiym”, which is the plural of the word “eloahh”, describing the supreme deity. Even the very scripture which describes the creation of man, declares God as saying; “Let us make man in our image after our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26)
God, who has only known life as an “us”, made you and I to be in relationship with Him, joined with Him, ONE with Him, as the Son is with the Father and the Spirit. This is the union Jesus described and anticipated joyfully for us, in His prayer to His Father. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:2–23)
We can’t by ourselves, join our ‘selves’ to God, (even though mere religion keeps telling us we should try). Only God can join Himself to man, for only God can overcome the distance/barrier between self-life and God life, between sin and holiness and here is the good news, the Gospel; HE ALREADY HAS.
That’s called the Finished Work. Through His Incarnation, His perfect life, His atoning death and victorious resurrection, Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the only one who can join God and Man, has cleared the way for anyone who wants to, to receive an entirely new form of life altogether not a self-life, but a joined life (1Cor.6:17,19,20), a life called; “married—to Him who was raised from the dead.” (Romans 7:4). He has only attached one condition to this new life……You must receive it as a pure gift of God (Eph.2:8).
So why do so many of us as Christians still live as if our “self” didn’t die on the Cross, still live as if God must be persuaded by our prayers and our piety to come and join His life with ours? If God has not withheld even His very life, His very Spirit from us and now lives in union with our spirits (1Cor.6:17), why do so many of us still live as if we are waiting for Him to move and still pray as if we can persuade Him to do more for us or give more to us? You may not like the answer.
If you as a parent, the single greatest influencer of your child, keep addressing them as if they are a disappointment to you and are not yet worthy of you, why are you surprised if they grow up to be overly self-conscious and bound by anxiety and condemnation? Likewise, if you as a Christian have spent years sitting under teaching that repeatedly has you separated from God’s presence by your sins and running back to the altar regularly to repent, then don’t be surprised if you think, pray and behave as if Christ’s once and forever sacrifice for all sin, for all time (Hebrews 10:11-14), is not enough and is only made effective when topped up by your “repentance”.
The problem with mixing a little Old Covenant (Law) into the New Covenant (Gospel), is that it subtly moves Christian’s faith from Christ to “self”, from God’s righteousness to self-righteousness. Only the light of the Gospel that proclaims salvation to be “not of your ’selves’, but the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8,9) can cause the only repentance in believers that enables them to walk in the spirit, in their union with God’s Spirit; the repenting of their self-righteousness (religion).
How hard it is to let go of the product of our own best efforts for God. Abraham wept many tears when the Lord told Him that the son of His flesh, Ishmael, would never live the blessed life of the son of the Spirit, Isaac (Gal.4:28-31). Law and Grace cannot live together in the same house! Only when believers see the eternal glory of Christ as freely gifted to them, can they lay down the bling of a glittering religious identity and take up the heavenly gold of their union with Christ in God.
This nation desperately needs the Church, those who carry the name of Christ, to repent of their religion. For this reason, the rising Church will preach salvation (justification and sanctification), as entirely the gift of His grace (Ephesians 2:8,9), for only a gospel that lifts our eyes entirely onto Christ, can transform the face of the Church to be as a shining light (Colossians 3:2,3, Hebrews 12:2, 2Cor.3:18). Only the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24) can call out a people who have sat under the shadow of the Law, into the glorious dawn that the appearing of Grace has ushered in (Titus 2:11).
Arise Church, out of the darkness of self-righteousness and into the glorious light that the message of God’s righteousness proclaims (Romans 1:16,17). For your glory has come and now we can see why Jesus rejoiced to lay down His life, for that glory is nothing less than marriage to God, that we may bear the fruit of His life, the us life. Only as we repent of self-righteousness can we bear the light of God’s righteousness and only that light has the power to reveal to this generation that the glitter of this world’s separation from God, is utter darkness compared to the true light of union with Christ.