Christ in Me, My Hope of Glory
IN response to my “Kingdom of God”, the person to whom it was addressed responded with more quotes of the law.
My Dear _____,
You quote many instances of the commandments to keep the Law and I am in agreement with you as to what the Law is.
I have no quarrel with your insistence that God is love and that the wrath I felt was only in my perception of what I felt that I deserved because I could not keep the law.
I have no quarrel with the quotes that our sins are forgiven if the Holy Spirit convicts us and we confess.
It seems to me that our differences are in the revelation that we have received concerning the extent of God’s gift of grace.
You see it, as you stated: “We speak of a person as having a “warm heart” or a “hard heart”. Our heart represents our will, our loves that lead to our actions. The love that we express in our life should be according to the two commandments. Our love of God is expressed by an action – by our trying to obey his commandments and teachings. Our love of our neighbour is expressed by actions – by good works that help and support other people. If a good love does not lead to good works it would be like a workman with a box full of tools that he never uses.”
If trying to keep the law, by obeying His commandments and teachings, works for you - then that is where you stand in faith and our faith has to be in what we have taken to be the truth. But it did not work for me. I knew that I had been washed clean but my problem was that I still felt dead in my transgressions, that it was with living the life of a Christian in the present moment that I was having difficulty. Deep down I knew I was living a lie.
I had made the statement, concerning God’s Word, when I was a very new Christian seeking to find the way to live a victorious life, “I cannot pick and choose the parts of the Bible that suit my particular stand, I have to accept it all as God’s inspired word or none at all.”
There was my predicament!
The more I studied the Word, the more there seemed to be something missing for me. I read verses that bothered me and made me question why it was so hard to be a really good, victorious Christian. How was I to deal with all those verses, which pointed out, that I did not measure up?
“We are new creatures in Christ.” (2 Cor 5:17) I did not feel, nor did I act, as if I were a new creature.
“We are partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Pet 1:4) I certainly did not exhibit evidences of my having partaken of the Divine nature.
“He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Heb 10:14) How could I be sanctified when I kept sinning
“We are Complete in Him.” (Col 2:10) I did not feel complete - there seemed to be a lot lacking in my life as far as my goodness was concerned.
“Holy, unblameable and unreproveable.” (Col 1:22) (Phil 2:13) I could not claim that I was holy and there was plenty for which I could be blamed.
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Rom 6:18) Most of all, why was I not free from sin? That little condemning voice was always informing me that if I were a ‘good’ Christian, I wouldn’t have acted that way. I did not measure up at all!
You wrote, “God knows that, because we are not perfect, that we will sin – but that, if our dominant effort is to put away evil (with His help), then He can forgive the sins that we have committed – that we ask for forgiveness. A person who does not try to give up sin does not ask for forgiveness.”
Oh! This was not at all true of me! Of course I gave up sin, continually and asked for forgiveness each time but I kept slipping back into being unlovingly impatient again. I wanted to please God; I wanted to be perfect for Him. I tried so hard, I failed, I asked forgiveness, time and again, for in spite of all the ‘work’ I was doing for the Lord, what I saw in myself as a lack in living a victorious Christian life - all centred on my unloving actions. I pleaded for God to help me live this life. I committed, re-committed, dedicated, re-dedicated my life to him at every call but, as I remarked before, Romans chapters six and seven were very real to me. The answer in Chapter eight had not yet been revealed to me.
Then I studied Galatians:
“Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing - if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” (Gal 3:2-5)
Oh! I was faced with so many questions!
What did Paul mean, of course I was trying hard to live this life, wasn’t that the way we were supposed to live? At the time, as there were no miracles that He had given me, I assumed that this message was only for those times, when miracles were being performed by the disciples.
It was when my husband was dying that I started to see miracles in our life; I saw God’s wonderful provision for us during the year of his illness – absolute miracles. The miracle of the voice I heard during the sleepless night when I was ready to crack-up, pleading with God, “Why have You forsaken me.”
He responded in a loud, clear voice, “Have faith and trust in me, all things work together for good.” That night I started to search for an understanding of faith. That ‘all things were working for good’ gave me a great deal of comfort. This was the first time that I saw God in the midst of my troubles and believed that He had a purpose in my husband’s illness.
God’s miracle provided more than I needed when, just a few weeks later, I longed to be with my father in England, for my mother died just four months before my husband. I could not leave my husband, who was visiting the hospital daily for radiation treatments. I could not leave my ten-year-old and my one-year-old sons. I did not have the money and, in any case, as there were no seats available, on the flight to England that would get me there in time for the funeral, I could not have even bought a ticket. The miracle was that all these things were taken care of when I told my Lord of my heartfelt desire to be with my father and asked him to either open up the way or to shut the door firmly, to end my unbearable longing to be with my father.
I arrived in England before my father knew I was coming. God took care of every obstacle, providing the specialist’s assurance that my husband’s treatments ended on that very day and that he would ‘phone him daily while I was away, an offer to take care of the baby, a neighbour’s offer to care for my husband and older son, money for the fare and a first class ticket made available.
The next miracle was the timing and the amount of the gift of four months mortgage payments, when my husband only lived four more months and that was all I needed.
Every thing that I asked for, God provided, even the provision of having the offer, I did not have to ask once, of a baby-sitter and a 20-minute lift into the hospital in Montreal every day for nine months. I lived outside the city bus routes and did not drive. The journey by bus would have taken me a total of three hours every day. During that terrible, yet wonderful, year we felt as though we were wrapped in the velvet of God’s love and provision.
Now God had performed miracles in my day and He spoke to me in Galatians. I had done exactly what the Galatians had done, I had accepted my Salvation through Christ’s shed blood and then I had set about earning and keeping that salvation by works, in keeping myself safe by works of the law. I finally learned that grace is God’s unmerited favour. I was eliminating God’s gift of grace by my efforts. Where was the faith in that?
You do not quote from the Epistles, _____. I do because it was through them that I saw where the victorious life lay. It was through them that I learned why Christ died, that BY FAITH I had been crucified in Him, BY FAITH I was dead in Him, BY FAITH I am buried with Him and BY FAITH I am alive IN HIM. I learned that it is not the keeping of the law that saves me but that it is BY THE FAITH OF CHRIST that my Saviour is keeping me from all evil, that in Him I am perfect, complete and lacking nothing. I am the apple of His eye. I am his delight. I am His pleasure. I am lovely in His sight. He loves me as only a heavenly father can and He has poured on me every spiritual blessing - just by my abiding in the rest and peace of His promises that I am perfected IN CHRIST by faith. (John 17:23)
“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal 4:19-20)
Meanwhile, having accepted for myself, the accusation that Paul had made to the Galatians, who were living their Christian life as I was, by self-effort, what did Paul mean by “ until Christ is formed in you.” There was something here that I searched for – that Christ would be formed in me. I had been so busy trying to form myself into a Christ- like person.
I have mentioned before, that I read a book about Love being a Person not a thing and of the Person of Love dwelling ‘IN US’ but now, everywhere I read it spoke of OUR being ‘IN CHRIST’.
“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were IN Christ before I was.” (Rom 16:7)
“Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms IN Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:3-6)
“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect IN Christ.” (Col 1:28-29)
“For IN Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness IN Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. IN him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision _____e by the hands of men but with the circumcision _____e by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col 2:9-12)
“I always thank God for you because of his grace given you IN Christ Jesus. For IN him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge- because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (Cor 1:4-9)
“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." (Rom 9:30-32)
I had run up against the ‘stumbling stone”. This life is not of works it is one of faith “that IN Christ is our hope of glory.” (Col 1:27)
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted IN the beloved.” (Eph 1:6)
That was it! I am accepted IN HIM, not for my ‘works’, for how good I am or how well I try to keep the law, or pray, or attend church, or know the Word, or love my brother, or confess my sin, or commit my life, or dedicate my life, or in my efforts to become more Christ-like, there is nothing of myself that I can offer, it is only BY FAITH IN CHRIST. His blood covers me. All those things, which I thought I had to become, will be manifested in me, not as the result of my trying, but as the consequence of God working His will in His time, in His good pleasure and for His good purpose and only as a product of my faith that this is so in and through Christ. I am merely the vessel - which He fills, I am the temple - in which He dwells, I am the branch - with His life-giving sap running through me. He is the life and all I do is receive and live spontaneously in faith that it is so.
‘For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal 2:19-20)
When I read that verse it horrified me that I had been frustrating God with my efforts to live by the law. Now I knew that living by the law is not living in faith and if that were the case then Jesus suffered all He did for nothing. The only result of living by the law is self-righteousness!
It is only by my faith in Christ to be all He is in and through me that His love can be perfected in me. (1 John 4:9-12) My faith is no longer in my ability to keep the law, it is in the One Who dwells within me, who keeps the law in me and through me. My faith is in MY KEEPER. MY STAY. All God is, in His wonderful love, He is in me and He works His will through me and that is where my faith lies. No longer in my keeping the law with His help but in His keeping the law by His giving me a heart of flesh. I no longer keep the law - I live the law because He lives through me, as me.” (Gal 2:20)
“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”
“He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:46-48)
How do we reject Christ? By not believing in what His death accomplished for us, by not believing in our own crucifixion death and burial in Him, by not believing that in Him we rose and have a new life in Him, by not believing that we no longer live but that He lives in us. (Gal 2:20) There is the dichotomy, there is the contradiction, we live and yet we no longer live. We are two and yet one.
The voice of condemnation that I heard all the time was not from God as I had thought. His voice is the one you described - the voice of a loving Father. That voice was of the tempter urging me to keep the law, urging me keep trying and condemning me when I could not. The Holy Spirit is my teacher and I trust Him to lead me in all truth. I finally understood the answer to Romans six and seven, in Romans 8:1-9.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Finally, I understood that I was still living in the old sin-consciousness of the law when in faith I could accept that I was now alive in the righteousness of Christ. I was no longer experiencing the darkness of the wrath of God as a child of disobedience; I was now a child of light - in the Lord I also am the light. (Eph 5:6-8) No longer striving for my own righteousness but accepting Christ’s wonderful gift of my being One with Him and in so doing, being one with His righteousness. He came not to condemn me to a life of keeping the law but to free me from that curse by becoming a curse for me. He came to love me, and IN Him, His love, not my phoney, trumped up action, is reflected back to Him and to my neighbour through me. What Jesus stated is the truth for me, “Without Me you can do nothing.” Therefore, I reiterate my statement “Of myself I can do nothing.” I cannot keep the law. I was never meant to.
Christ came not to condemn but to love.
What is so freeing in Christ’s non-judgementalism is that I no longer judge others by their belief or not, or whether they are living a righteous life or not. That is God’s business – not mine. It has freed me to allow Him to love the sinner through me – for there but for the grace of God go I and Christ Himself spent His time among the lost – loving them as they had never been loved before.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (Luke 6:41-42)
My mentors and examples of becoming a ‘good’ Christian were all those diligent church workers, who were so active in the church, who silently declared to me, by their manner, that they were able to live the victorious life. Even those in the pulpit declared that it was possible to keep the law with God’s help. It was in my trying to become like them, as they appeared to be or that they taught that I should be, that I faced failure. It was the silence that declares that it is possible to keep the law with God’s help that kept me imprisoned in self-effort. It was by their example that I judged those who sinned.
Living by the law caused me to judge others and this judgmental thought process ended in self-righteousness. The only people that Jesus condemned were those guilty of this particular sin, of clean appearance but filthy inside. In my unsuccessful efforts to keep the law, it allowed me to feel better about myself if I could point to the sin of others – “At least I would never do that” was a comforting thought! I could quote the ministration of death, the letter of the law time and again. “Thou shalt not!”
Finally, the Holy Spirit convicted of the very sin - which Christ abhorred above all others – self-righteousness. In spite of the fact that I considered myself a Christian, I found myself to be no better than the Pharisees, who, by their piety, silently declared that it was possible to keep the law. Hiding behind my façade of right living, I presented the face of a good Christian. I had all the outer appearance, for years I was very active in my church, Chairman of the Adult Education Programme, Choir, Ladies Groups, Bible Study, Cell groups plus the many social activities that centered on our church community. How many others had I condemned by the fact that I appeared to be keeping the law? How many others felt a failure because of my beautiful outer clothing of a successful Christian, because I was certainly not revealing my inner, filthy, constant failures to anyone? And all because I did not know the true extent of my God’s gift of grace.
Once, having the sin of self-righteousness revealed in me, how dare I judge others when Jesus Himself would not?
I no longer try to love others for I know that I cannot. I rest in the knowledge that He, in me and through me, is the Lover of all mankind and He loved sinners and the revelation of Himself to others through me, is His business – not mine. I judge no man in the flesh.
This may sound like a life of inactivity but far from it - I still feel all the feelings of helplessness, inadequacy and failure that I used to feel but they are what now push me deeper into Christ. They remind me that as Jesus, I too must declare, “Of myself I can do nothing,” and I agree with Him that, “Without Him I can do nothing.”
Then we are faced with James 2:17, “Faith without works is dead.” Faith is not a static thing, if I make a statement of faith, then there will follow, as sure as can be, an occasion for me to act in a manner which depends upon my faith statement. That is the ‘work’ that I am called to now. It is the obedience of faith, which forces me to look - not at the impossibility of the situation - but to see my Lord in the midst of the appearance of hopelessness. That is the ‘work’ which makes the faith of Christ perfect.
Abraham, the father of faith, who, believing God’s promise that, through his seed nations would be blessed, made his faith statement to his young men before he departed from them. He said that he, and his son, whom he had been called to sacrifice, would return.
His first ‘work’ of faith, against the appearance that there was no sacrificial lamb, was to tell his son that God would provide the lamb.
His second ‘work’ of faith was to lay his son on the altar.
His third ‘work’ of faith was to raise the knife in his hand believing, not in appearances but in God’s promise concerning his seed, Isaac. Then, just at the right moment, when to all appearances, the knife must fall, the angel of God appeared and a ram was provided for the sacrifice.
Trusting, trusting, trusting that what God promised would come to pass, in spite of all appearances that it was to be his son who was to be the lamb. That is the ‘work’ that we have been called to perform, to believe in the Son of God, (John 6:29) in spite of the seeming impossibilities, and to say so and to act upon that belief in spite of all that we see with our double-eyed vision of the world. We translate our vision into seeing with the single-eye of light, love and life. We see God in the midst of all, knowing that the impossible has already come to pass in the Kingdom – all we do is to affirm it! (Hebrews 11)
Peter made his statement of faith when he declared that, if the Lord bid him, against all appearances, he would do the impossible and he would walk on the water. His first ‘work‘ of faith was to step out of the boat, trusting only in Jesus. His second ‘work’ of faith was to take the steps toward Jesus but, when he took his eyes of Jesus and looked at appearances, he did not take the third step, which would have been to affirm his faith that in Christ all things were possible. He transferred his faith from Jesus to the appearances of the wind-blown waves and he began to sink. Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Oh! You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
He could not do it of himself only in His faith in Jesus could he do his ‘work’. Whilst I looked at the impossibility of my keeping the law I failed but when I keep my eyes on Jesus, expecting Him to keep it in me – then I am ‘working’ in faith..
By faith I trust that “I have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2;16) and by faith that it is “God who works in me both to will and to do.” (Phil 2:12) and I live spontaneously in faith that this is so.
All I know, _____, is that the Lord has led me out of the torment of a life lived under the law and the curse that that brings, into the Kingdom of God, where His peace passes all understanding.
“Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” ( Rom 10:3-4) Believes what? It is in our belief in the Son that He is the ALL of our life. That in Him, and only in Him are we forgiven, created a new man, perfected, holy, blameless, unreproveable, righteous, justified, glorified, sanctified – by faith we are all that He is – when we accept that He is the life within us.
I no longer depend upon my own righteousness; by faith I depend on my Lord’s in me. “I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”(Phil 3:8-9)
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:13)
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death (the Law) which was engraven on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be _____e away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be clory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exveed in glory.”
We have both lived many years as Christians, _____, evidenced by your knowledge of the Word and the Holy Spirit has led us on that journey. It was the letter of the law which killed me. Is it not exciting to read a verse for years and, not knowing that we have been reading that verse by the letter of the law, we are then given a revelation, by the Spirit, of a deeper meaning? (2 Cor 3:6)
A meaning that was hidden from the wise and revealed only by the Spirit. By this we know that we have eyes to see and ears to hear that Christ came with a new message of Love - not of judgement or condemnation.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor 2:7-10)
I remember reading an explanation of our journey of seeking our own righteousness, when all the time we already have the perfect righteousness of Christ in whom we live, move and have our being, as being just like looking for our glasses when all the time they were on our head.
I joy in His continual revelation, of the truth of the Spirit of the Word, to those of us who seek the deep things of God, that we are One in Him, for in Him we live, move and have our being.
Once again, a long answer, _____, but I can only answer in my experiences of the truth as it has been revealed to me.
Your friend in our Oneness,