Those who know Christ as their Savior understand how Christ has paid the debt for their sins. They understand how His blood has cleansed us from all sin. How He has made us new creatures and declared us to be His sons and daughters.
These truths, accepted by faith, establish us in Him and make us approved before Him.
However, these truths do NOTHING to enable us to actually live this thing we call the “Christian life”.
Vainly Searching for Power
We will be eternally grateful to the Lord for His suffering for us. We will forever praise Him for wiping the slate clean for all sins past, present and future. And we may have much zeal in us out of gratitude and duty to do all that He wants us to do in this life for Him.
But, even all that, does not give us anything that enables us to live the life He wants us to live. We will only, at best, be poor imitations of who He is. Trying to do what only He can do. Trying to be like God. Humans, like apes, trying to imitate God.
Consider this, if you have the power to live the Christian life now, out of love and gratitude, why doesn’t the rest of the religious world have the ability to live according to the perfect Law of God? Why is our zeal and determination any different than the rest? What do we have, in ourselves, that is any different than we had before our salvation that empowers us to do all the right things?
Or, to put it another way, do you now believe that you can live the Law perfectly? Is that the idea? That NOW, as a Christian, you can keep the Law you could not keep as an unsaved person? Is it just a question of re-focusing on “love” or “unity” or some other New Testament ideal?
To support this idea, many Christians will quote the verse, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: ” (John 1:12) They look at that verse and believe that the Christian has some sort of internal power to do all that we are commanded to do. And they set off to use that power as a tool to accomplish things for God. And if things don’t work out, it is presumed that the Christian is not following all the rules God has given him for using that power.
Christ is Our Life
The point of all this is to establish a very important doctrinal fact. We are saved by His life as well as His death. See Romans 5:10.
The life in us now is Christ Himself. It is “Christ in you“, as Colossians 1:27 says. It is the person of Christ who is our life. It is not a power but a person.
Now that is not just poetry. It is the most profound of practical truths. That Christ lives within us to be ALL that He wants us to be. The life that the Father lived through Christ two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ now wants to live uniquely through us by His Spirit.
Again, if you think this is just spiritual sentiment, you are putting yourself in the position of trying to walk this Christian way in your own strength and then presenting that life to Christ for His approval. Forget it. You will waste your life, doing your best to follow whatever list you know, and having Him reject your life as “wood, hay and stubble“. You will still be saved, “as by fire“, but will have wasted your life creating dead works.
Did Christ die only to give us an escape out of Hell? Did He save us from the penalty of our sins but give us nothing to overcome the struggle against sin in this life? Are we to struggle on, like the vast majority of this world trusting in religious rituals and our own religious determination to live good, moral lives?
If that were true, then Christ would have died in vain. Then we would have always possessed the power to do what we needed to do as unsaved men. Maybe needing only a little guidance to be good people. Just needing to find “The Secret” that would unlock the power and blessings of God.
All That Jesus Would Be
When Jesus Christ said that he wanted to give us life and to give it more abundantly, He was speaking of giving us Himself. His indwelling presence. The “earnest of our inheritance” is the Holy Spirit within us meant to be all that Jesus would be if He were here physically on earth right now.
But He can only be that to us if we will trust Him to live through us. If we will believe on His promise to ACTIVELY DO the very things He has commanded of us. In this way, He is both the One who commands as well as the One who fulfills the command.
This is not some new way of living. This is the only way to live. It is why Christ came to this earth. To not only give us eternal life, but to minister to His world using us as His vessels. This is the difference between living works and dead works.
But it demands a rejection of the natural man and all his methods of imitation. We are touching something dead when we try to do God’s works for Him. We produce eternal, spiritual fruit only when God does the work by His Spirit within us.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)