A major theme in the Bible is that God is making all things new through Jesus. Reading through the Old Testament we see clearly that there is a sin problem and we also see God’s promise that he going to give people a new heart so that they can be who he created them to be. Through Jesus two things happen in order for God to accomplish this.
1. Forgiveness of sins through faith in the atoning death of Jesus.
2. Empowerment to live for God as new creations through the life of the resurrected Jesus living in us by means of the Holy Spirit.
If we don’t fully understand the gospel and it’s purpose for us as Christians, we can fall into a few different categories that miss the mark.
1. We are religious without a change of heart. We know we are supposed to obey God, but we do it in our own resources. It lacks love and joy and is often burdensome to do so. The danger is becoming self-righteous and judgmental.
2. We seek to live for God but his forgiveness is never assimilated into our lives. We are filled with shame and can never seem to get out of the pit.
3. We are forgiven sinners. We obey God out of gratitude. The problem here though is that we still define ourselves as sinners. Our definition of grace is that Jesus died for us and we didn’t deserve it, which is correct, but we fail to see ourselves a new creations. We go on sinning because our definition of the gospel is only half complete. Jesus died so we can go to heaven.
Jesus did die so we can go to heaven, however Jesus died to get heaven into us. That’s the whole story of the Bible and many of us main stream Christians are missing it. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being made whole and complete. It’s about shalom. It’s God redeeming us to be who we were created to be; His image bearers. It’s being freed from the power of sin through Jesus to live for God by the power of Jesus working through us.
So it matters when we understand that...
1. We are 100% forgiven through faith in Jesus. So we no longer have to wallow in shame no matter what we’ve done.
2. Through God’s Spirit dwelling in us we are considered new creations. Therefore we are called to renew our minds; that means relearning what it means to be human in this world but this time with God as our source. While we do this it’s important that we not see ourselves as patched up sinners, but rather as those who have died to sin and are alive in Jesus Christ. We have been raised spiritually. How you define yourself has a direct correlation to how you show up in the world.
It’s important to not only see ourselves as forgiven but also empowered. That’s the new covenant that the prophets of old foretold and has come to fruition in Jesus. In Jesus, God says I am taking the reigns back. I’m setting up my kingdom. I’m going to renew all things and this includes changing the hearts of all who seek out my son Jesus. This is the way I will get heaven back into the world where it belongs. And we who belong to Jesus have been given the opportunity to be a part of this vocation, if only we’d begin to see ourselves as he sees us.