Sunday, 1 November 2015

What is there for us in Christ?

One of the common mistakes that we can make is to imagine that we can find within ourselves what can only be found in Christ. For example, when I sin, I may think that the best response is for me to resolve to do better next time. Whether we realise it or not, such a response is an expression of confidence in ourselves. This is not to deny that good intentions are important. But they can never be the best response or the only reaction. Instead the best response is to see what there is for us in Christ that will deal with our sins. So what is there for us in Jesus?

First, there is forgiveness for our sins through Jesus. Because he paid the penalty for sin when he was on the cross, we will be forgiven each time we ask for mercy for his sake. Second, there is cleansing for our sin through the blood of Jesus. When I was young my mother would tell me not to play football in a muddy field which was round the corner from our home. Once I was out of her sight, I was first tempted to play with my friends, before giving in and joining them. An hour later I returned home in a muddy state. My mother was angry, but when I said I was sorry she forgave me. But forgiveness was not enough, I had also to be cleansed. Fortunately, the one who forgave me could also cleanse me. In a far higher sense, Jesus forgives us for our sins and cleanses us from the defiling effects of our sins.

Second, there is power for us available through Jesus to keep us from sinning in the same way. When my mother washed my clothes, I suspect she knew that it would not be the last time she would have do so. What she needed to have was an influence on me that would keep me from playing in the muddy field. But she did not have it. Her only resort would have been to be with me, which would have prevented her doing anything else. In contrast, when we confess our sins to Jesus and receive his cleansing, we are also given spiritual power in the sense that the Holy Spirit will accompany us wherever we go. So when we find ourselves tempted to engage in a particular sin, we can pray to Jesus for help and right away the Holy Spirit will protect us and give us power to resist the temptation.

Third, there is enjoyment of spiritual blessings in Christ. It is important to note that Jesus is the key to all these blessings. Sometimes we find that we don’t have love, joy, peace, gentleness etc. So we start thinking about them and try to give them to ourselves, and we wonder why we cannot locate them. A better response is to start thinking about Jesus and if we do we will soon experience his love, peace, joy etc. Meditating about Jesus brings a sense of the blessings, stored for us in Christ, into our experience. So by these and other ways we can avoid the common mistake of imagining we have within ourselves what can only be received from Jesus.

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