“Ever the bridesmaid, never the bride”

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

How do you think a husband would feel if he discovered after marrying the love of his life, that she acted as if they weren’t married at all and went out with other men? How would he feel, if on questioning her, he found her to be so deeply insecure about his love for her and feeling so unworthy to be loved, that in her heart she believed he could not really have been serious in his marriage to her and that their marriage was in name only? You might think that a ridiculous scenario. No-one is going to get married and then live as if the marriage isn’t real. You think so? Let’s have another look at many of us in the church.
How many of us for years, have not struggled to rest in the love of God, to believe that His love for us is the last word on our identity and destiny? How many of us have not repeatedly fallen back to believing that there must be something we need to do, in order to be, or stay, worthy of His life, worthy of union with Him? How many of us would confess to living, feeling that we must be a disappointment to God, that He may love us, but He probably doesn’t like us? How much of our Christian lives have been spent asking God what He wants us to do and then worrying that we haven’t done what He wanted us to?
The Gospel declares that the union He offers us is based entirely on Christ’s obedience and life (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 10:14), that our identity is hidden in Him. Yet our striving to please God, the widespread lack of fulfilment that drives believers to be continually seeking for something ‘new’ and the ease with which we pass judgement on others, all reveal that for many of us, our hope is more on ourselves and our work for Him, rather than on Christ and Him crucified. So many of us take this gift of union with Him, the gift of His life, the Christ life, the sinless life, what Romans 7:4 calls the ‘married’ life and we mix it with our old ‘apart from Him’ life, our old ‘If I try harder I will get more and do better’ life. The result is we get something that has the outward appearance of holiness and godliness, but somehow lacks the power and the joy and the liberty and the abundant generosity of Christ’s life.
Romans 7:4 declares the reason why Christ gave His body for us. It was so “that we would be married to another….” We cannot be married to two different lives at the same time. We cannot live married and live as if single at the same time. We cannot live believing that we are one with Him (1Cor.6:17), blessed with every blessing He has to give (Ephesians1:3) and at the same time believe that He has not yet given us everything He has to give, but could be persuaded to pour out more if we pray hard enough! Yet that very double-mindedness is where many of us have lived for years and the result is that we struggle to receive the grace of God. James warned us of the result of living double minded about the truth of God’s generosity to give freely, to give without finding fault. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)
Look at this scripture again. “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another”
Can you see it? God sees you as married to Christ. He took your old life, your old single, separated from God in your sin life, onto Himself on the Cross and He took it and killed it and buried it. He did that so that you and I and anyone who receives the gift of God, can live in a new state, a new reality before God, a new state of being, a state the Bible calls “in Christ”. The Holy Spirit’s work is to declare this new state into the souls of men and women, that they would be whom God knows them and sees them to be; married to Him (2Cor.5:17-20)
The final part of this verse names the evidence of this union. “…that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” Apart from remaining in this reality, apart from believing in the power of His grace towards us and in us, apart from remaining in the truth that His Spirit and our spirits are one, we can bear no fruit! Jesus declared that branches cannot bear fruit if they attempt to live apart from their vine (John 15:5) The fruit of believing that God has so comprehensively dealt with our sin, that we are now dead to sin and joined in our spirits with His sinless life, is listed in Galatians 5:22.23 including, love, joy, peace and patience. In other words, the result of renewing our minds to our new married state, is that we start to appear like the one our heart and minds are married to; Christ.
This is the perfecting work of the Holy Spirit, who only ever addresses believers according to their new state; that is according to who they now are in the spirit. The Holy Spirit deals with us according to the reality He knows, not according to how we feel. He speaks to us as a new man in Christ. He does not speak to us according to who we think we are; a poor sinner trying their best for God. He only speaks to us as who Christ declares we are; a totally new creation, joined to the Lord and one spirit with Him (1Cor.6:17). The Holy Spirit does not minister to your idea of you (poor wee me, long way from God, struggling in sin) for in His reality that person does not exist. You may not reckon that ‘self’ dead, but the Holy Spirit does, or He would not have authored Romans 6:11 (“reckon yourselves to be dead to sin”). You may only see yourself in the natural and see the sin in your life, but the Holy Spirit sees by God’s reality. He sees your sin where God put it; on Christ’s body on that Cross and then dead and buried. He knows that through Christ’s body the old sinner was put to death. He knows He can be of no help to you by speaking to you as if that person still lives. The Holy Spirit only ministers to one person, you in Christ, you in the Spirit, not two people. Jesus confirmed that we are made perfect, not in two, but in one! (John 17:23)
This world system values people according to what they can do. God does not value us according to what we can do for Him. The Cross set us free from that system because it declared our true value to God; Christ. Religion that exhorts us to do more for God, is a product of the spirit of this world. The Gospel does not say “do”, it says “be” (“Cor.5:20). All the doing was done by Christ, in order that we would be who He has made us to be; one with Him. That is not to say that there is not much to be done in this world, but it is to be done of Him and not merely for Him. You can be sure the day Jesus visited Martha and Mary that Mary too worked hard, but her work began and emerged out of her rest with Christ. Martha’s focus was on impressing Jesus. Mary’s was on being impressed by Jesus. Yes there is much work to be done to share the message of the gospel in our community, but if we do not start from a place of revelation of our true state before God, we will only lead them into church-life rather than Christ-life. Christ did not shed His blood that you or I would live a life of feeling insufficient, incomplete, never good enough, never ready, a life living according to the natural senses. If I do not allow the Gospel of the Grace of God and the Holy Spirit to change my mind (metanoia, true repentance), so that I no longer live as if my sin separates me from God, then I will live as if my sin separates me from God! I will live a merely religious life, a life lived in doubt and fear, where my heart constantly cries to God “Is this enough yet?” I will live as ‘ever the bridesmaid but never the bride’, always waiting for a better day, but never living in the better day, never bearing the fruit of my union with Him, because my mind has never been renewed to the truth, that from the Cross, God has already declared “It is enough!” The apostle Peter confirmed that the reason believers fail to grow in Christ, is that they have not been rooted and grounded in the reality of their true state before God. “But those who fail to develop in this way are short-sighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” (2.Peter1:9)
Believer, you are married to Christ. Let us stop examining our lives from a merely natural point of view and behaving like mere men (1Cor.3:3). Let us allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us as those hidden in Christ, married to Him. Let His words wake us up, to Christ in us, for if we don’t see Christ in us, how can we expect the world to? (John 17:22,23) Receive His kiss, sleeping beauty! Receive the revelation of His Spirit and awake to God’s reality; righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17).

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