Friday, May 13, 2016

Corpse Alive (Inseparable Chapter 3)

In Christ, I am alive.

When I accept the power of Christ into my life, I am no longer dead to sin.  I am alive by Him dwelling within me.  I have the presence of Christ Himself inside of me.  Because of His presence, my focus can be on the work of the Spirit, not on my fallen, corrupt nature.  Romans 8:6-7 tells us, "A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace.  You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God's law and is incapable of following His path."  I had to read those words a couple of times before it really sank in.  A mind focusing on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace.  A mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God.  When I am focused on the wrong things--the things that are not of God--I am declaring war against God.  I do not want to be a person on the wrong side of any war that involves God.  That will not turn out well for me.  That concept reinforces my perspective that my righteousness matters.  But it's not about the rules or the is about our heart.  The condition of my heart is where my righteousness comes from.  If I am alive in Christ, then I should desire to do what pleases Him.

"When we are without Christ, we are dead.  How do we come to recognize we are dead inside?  Only one who has been brought to life can tell another dead soul what it is like to be revived."  This is why our personal testimonies are so important.  Our resurrected souls can share our stories of how we are alive again and can impact other people.  We need to use our own experiences to keep pointing people back to God.  

The next section deals with life after our souls have been resurrected.  We are no longer dead to sin but we are alive in Christ.  So why do we continue to focus on all the ways we have sinned in our lives?  "It can be really easy to be preoccupied with our sinful nature even though we've been rescued from sin's ultimate consequences.  It is true that we will struggle against temptation for the rest of our lives...But what bothers me is how often we continue to view ourselves only as sinners."  That is such a good point.  I am a sinner.  I do mess up more frequently than I like to admit.  I still struggle in so many ways.  But I am a lot more than the sum total of my sins.  I am alive in Christ.  I have the embodiment of the Spirit living in me.  We are new creations with abundant life.  In John 10:10, Jesus says, "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly."  We need to stop focusing on our sins and focus on all the we can do through the power of Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13).

So what do we do with those sins, mistakes, and other flaws in our lives?  Ignore them?  Pretend like they never happened?  That is my natural response, but God can use those very areas of our lives in order to reach someone else. Although it isn't easy, we can pray for God "to use our past mistakes as tools for justice and goodness in this world."  I love that phrase.  "Tools for justice and goodness" makes me feel like a superhero ready to rescue the world!

The Bible character in this chapter is Lazarus.  It is a familiar section, but there was a new application for me here.  Lazarus was dead.  Completely dead and buried in a tomb for four days.  When Jesus raised him back to life, he called for those around him to help him get unwound from the grave clothes.    He couldn't do it by himself.  "When Jesus raises our souls from the dead, sometimes there are things about our old, dead life that are trying to hold us back.  We need help getting untangled, and that's part of why our new lives are meant to be lived alongside other believers.   We need to leave the things that wrapped us when we were dead where they belong--in the grave.  We are in Christ now, and instead of grave clothes, we are tangled up in His grace, mercy, and redemption.  We are alive."

Here are some ides that stood out to me in Romans 5.  We are to celebrate in times of suffering because it produce endurance, and that shapes our character.  From that we can learn to hope and anticipate God's goodness (v. 3-4).  We have grace--and have it abundantly--through the legacy of Jesus Christ (v. 17).  Although we don't aspire to be sinners, God's grace is more.  No matter how much sin creeps in, there is always more grace (v. 20).

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and I am in now way being compensated for this post.

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