Will the real ‘You’ please stand up!

“Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,  ….. which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”         Col.1:25,27

Here we have the apostle Paul’s definition of what it is to “fully carry out the preaching of the word of God.” It is to declare nothing less than the union of the believer with Christ. Here the Spirit expresses this glorious mystery as “Christ in you”. By chapter 3, He declares us to be “hidden with Christ in God” (Col.3:3) and there we find what every believer needs to see before they can accept this truth; “for you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Here is the great ‘crossing over’ that every believer must make in their thinking, if they are not to remain vulnerable to every religious teaching that fills the church with new ideas on how to reduce the ‘sin’ in your life. The gospel is not God’s instructions on how to prune back sin in your life to some acceptable level. It is the religiously unacceptable message that God took an axe to the root of your sins; your separation from His life (Ezek.36:26,27, Col.3:3). He took that old ‘try harder to get closer to God through reducing your sins’ life and nailed it to the Cross and buried it.

He is not asking you to ‘try harder’ to seek out hidden sin and by confessing it, to improve your life. Newsflash! What you call ‘your life’ died and was buried (Gal.2:20, Col.3:3). That old ‘separated from God by your sins’ life was incapable of reform. The purpose of the Law was not to help you overcome sin, but to reveal to you that you are totally incapable of doing so (Rom.8:3). That is because ‘sins’ are merely the branches off a root called ‘separation’ (Prov.4:23). As a man thinks, so he is (Prov.23:7). As long as a believer does not grow to accept the death of their old life of separation from God and their new life of union with Christ (the renewal of their thinking), then their thinking remains double-minded and so they struggle to receive the new life of God (James 1:8). They are like a tree that refuses to keep its roots in the stream that gives it life. Jesus spoke of ‘remaining’ in the place of union with Him and that ‘apart from Him’ we can do nothing (John 15:5). Yet so often in churches believers are spoken to as if the biggest issue in their life is sin (separation from God). It is common to find the belief that the Gospel must be ‘balanced’ by the Law, yet to talk to a child as if they are both a son and an orphan can only ever produce self-conscious unstable children (James 1:8). When believers cannot handle the teaching on righteousness, they remain as spiritual infants (Heb.5:12,13), clinging to the schoolmaster of the Law for comfort (Gal.3:24,25).

We are not “against the Law”, it is just that we have absolute confidence in ‘Christ in you’ to produce in you the life that all your law-keeping could never produce. We refuse to direct your hope to ‘self’’ (the only person the Law speaks to), when the Gospel declares you to be no longer a ‘self’ but a partaker of the divine nature (2Peter 1:4). As a believer you are married to Christ that you may bear His fruit (Rom.7:4). Why should we tempt you to adultery by speaking to you as someone who can bear fruit apart from Him (Rom.7:1-3). Keep thinking of your life as a ‘self’ and you will keep living a ‘self’-ish life.

The real ‘you’ is now married to Christ, dead to sin (separation) and alive to God (union) (Rom.6:11). The restoration of the preaching of the gospel unleavened by the Law, is nothing less than the Holy Spirit proclaiming over the Church; “Will the real ‘you’ please stand up!’

I will leave the last word to the great preacher Dr Martin Lloyd Jones. “If the gospel you are preaching doesn’t cause you to be misunderstood and slanderously reported as being against the Law, then you don’t believe the Gospel truly and you don’t preach it truly”.

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