We are getting ready to take the Christmas tree down. That is always a bit depressing for me. For one thing, I don’t like packing up all the Christmas ornaments. OK, my wife usually does that. But it is still nice to turn the tree on with the house lights off and just sit there in the evening glow.
And Laurie, my wife, just brought me a gift that she forgot to give me. A pine-scented candle. I love the smell of pine trees in the woods. That has to be among my favorite smells. Right up there with chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven. So that helps to ease the pain of seeing the season pass on.
But, of course, the world is still in chaos. The Russians are spying on us (Really, how shocking. Whatever shall we do now? They never do that.). The spiritual battles continue to rage all around us. Medical bills keep coming in from everyone who ever did anything for us. (Including the guy who supplied Q-Tips to the hospital.)The weather outside is stinking cold and the Chevy won’t start again.
So it’s back to business as usual.
But, thankfully, in Christ we are “more than conquerors”. There is no explaining this. There is no justification for this by evaluating our circumstances or performance.
In Him, we can still live beyond all the stuff of life.
The Object of Our Confidence
But I still have the same old problem with the flesh. It is with my own self confidence. My reliance on what I can do for Him. As if I could do some great things to gain blessings, inner peace, achieve sanctification and holiness.
I have a tendency to think incorrectly about this all the time. That God will give me more stuff, less problems, vacations, more money, a good retirement, etc., etc. if only I would get all the spiritual stuff “in order”. Then He would give me stuff as a reward.
I know that other believers wrestle with this too. They think that their problems are the result of sin in their lives. And I know that there are some things that we do that can just mess our lives up. And we can grieve the Holy Spirit. I could go on for days typing things out that can mess our spiritual lives up.
But we have to get beyond that for the moment so that we can see a greater truth here.
The righteousness that we possess is not of ourselves. It is not an outward thing first. It is the inward first. By inward, we mean the indwelling Christ. Most of you know this.
And it may seem like I am always harping on this.
The Blessing of Imputed Righteousness
But, we often do live in practical denial of the total sufficiency of Christ. We believe on Him for our salvation, but not for our sanctification. By sanctification, we mean the holiness of life. The purity of the inner life.
We tend to think that our method of living the Christian life is different than how we were saved.
The Catholics believe there is a Treasury that exists of all the good works collected. Those of Christ, those of Mary, those of the Saints, along with the prayers, the money offerings and good works of the ordinary Catholic. And from this treasury, the benefits of salvation and forgiveness and blessing are distributed by the priesthood system. The priest then “confers” righteousness to the faithful, through the sacraments, based on the authority of the Pope. The Father in Rome is conferring this through the priest. It is all based on one’s faithfulness to a religious system of rituals and works.
Tragically, this is a false hope and a false salvation.
But biblical righteousness and sanctification is not based on “conferrence”. It is based on “imputation”. This means that God declares us to be righteous because of who Jesus is and what Jesus did. What He completed. What He finished.
Are We Human DO-ers or Human Beings?
Righteousness is about BEING. It is what God says we ARE. We are now righteous beings. Not based on what we DO, but based upon what God has declared us TO BE. Because we have placed our trust in the righteousness of Christ.
He does not give us righteousness as a separate thing that we possess. He becomes our righteousness within us.
Think of it this way. If you have true confidence in something, you stop worrying and rest in the fact. Search this out. Start with Isaiah 53. Read it over and over. See how God is pleased. See what His pleasure is. He is satisfied in His Son. We need to be satisfied with His Son as well. Instead of seeking satisfaction within ourselves.
God “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17). You see, all of this is impossible for you and I to do. This is all about God’s doing. It is all about His work. Otherwise we are hopeless.
Most of the world’s religious people will never get this. They are too busy trying to merit God’s favor. They reject the total sufficiency of Christ and try to add something to Him or replace Him altogether with another god (or just themselves as God).
Resting in All That He Is
The believer is to draw all that he needs from Christ Himself. No other mediator is necessary. And no work is done in order to merit the benefit of what Christ has purchased for us. Our work is to “believe on him whom he hath sent“. (John 6:29). To believe on Christ. And, “without faith it is impossible to please him..” (Hebrews 11:6). His work is accomplished as we have faith in His working within us.
This applies to anything that Christ wants to give to us. For example, His peace. And all that we need to be day by day, to please Him, is found by resting in all that He is. Not striving, but resting.
Because, He is the Prince of Peace.
So as you look back to the Christmas season, and the peace you longed to find there, it is still there waiting for you. If you missed it somewhere in all the stress and chaos, He is ready right now to be your peace just as if, at this moment, it was still Christmas Eve with the snow quietly falling outside your window.
Because, in Christ, we find the fulfillment of our need for this moment, the need for tomorrow, and the need for a trillion years ahead as we soar through the clouds of a world without end!