Abiding in Christ — Chapter 04

Chapter 4

Union and Communion

 

Scripture for Meditation: John 3:6

In this chapter, we want to look at a very important distinction in the Scriptures – the distinction between our union with Christ and our communion with Him.  Some theologians use the expression, “our position in Christ” in contrast to “the condition of our daily life.”  This is an important element in God’s plan for sanctification.  If we want to be holy, if we want to lead lives that are pleasing in the Lord’s sight, then we need to know these things.

 

Being In Christ: Union

First of all, we want to look at our union with Christ–the fact that we have been made one with Him.  Recall how we looked at Romans 6, where Paul tells us we have been united with Christ in His death, resurrection, and also in His ascension.  We are in the heavenlies.  God sees us united together with the glorified Savior.  Here we want to look at how that happened.

First of all, consider the new birth.  How is it we became united to Christ?  How is it that we have a new position?  Well, Jesus said in John 3:6, that when you are born in the flesh to your earthly family, there is an earthly family resemblance. (That which is flesh is flesh.)  But, when we are born again, when we are born into God’s family, and there are new family traits that will be manifested in our lives.  Living or dwelling in our position is what God wants for us as Christians.  When a new baby is born into a family, he is a new creature.  There is a new life in that family.  That is irreversible.  When that child is born, it can never be unborn.  No matter how that child turns out, whether he turns out to be a missionary serving the Lord, or he turns out to be a drug addict, if he is your son, he is still your son.  It is irreversible.  Position cannot be altered.

However, the condition of our life changes radically from day to day. Our position never changes.  As Christians, we have been born into God’s family and that is irreversible.  We are the sons of God.  We are new creations.  Just like every son born to his father, there are going to be certain traits that that son takes on like his dad.  He may walk like his dad.  He may talk like his dad.  The same thing is true when we are born into God’s family.  We become like Him.  We become partakers of a new nature, the heavenly nature, God’s nature.

When Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (Jn. 3:6), He was emphasizing the nature of the flesh.  In Romans 7:18, Paul said,  “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.”  Nothing good dwells in my flesh, my old nature.  On the other hand, our new nature, (we have been born into God’s family with a new nature) has nothing but good.  This new nature has a heart that loves God, a will that desires to please God and obey Him, and a mind that knows God.  There is nothing good in our old nature.  In our new nature there is nothing but good.  These two opposing natures cause great conflicts to arise in our mind and hearts!  (See Gal. 5:16-17.)

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul tells us more about our position in Christ Jesus.  What we want to see is that our position should have a radical effect on the condition of our day to day life.  Paul says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.”  That is our new position.  And what is the purpose of this position?  Why is it that God changed us?  We used to be in Adam, in his sin and in his condemnation.  Now through simple childlike faith God sees us in Christ and in His righteousness, and possessing His life.  What is the purpose of God revealing to us this change in our position? Ephesians 2:10 says that we have been created in Christ Jesus, “unto good works.”  This new creation in Christ has a purpose. Our position in Christ should have an effect on the condition of our lives.  We should be producing good works/fruit.  This is what Paul wants us to know.  Remember back in Romans 6, he said that I want you to know that your old man died with Christ and that a new man has been resurrected.  I want you to know this and I want you to believe it, reckon it to be so.  God has designed the Christian life in such a way that by faith, our position in Christ (how God sees us) will transform the condition of our lives.  How is it that we find ourselves in Christ?  This new position is ours by means of the spiritual birth, by being born into God’s family.   Through faith we became a child of God, and that is irreversible.  There is something else God does to us at the moment of salvation.  In I Corinthians 12:13 Paul says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.”  Spirit baptism places us inside the body of Christ.  We may not realize it, but the moment we put our faith in Christ Jesus, God did a miracle in us.  We do not feel it.  We may not know it–sometimes for many years. The moment we put our faith in Christ, God baptized us into the body of Christ.  He immersed us into this new position in His Son.

Spirit baptism really changes our position.  We were in Adam and in his condemnation.  Now we are in Christ and we have His life and His righteousness.  This is our new position.  It is unalterable.  When a person becomes a member of the Body of Christ, that can never, ever change.  Nothing can alter it.

Note this.  The position we have in Christ should have an effect on the condition of our daily life.  That is God’s plan for sanctification.  As new creations we are exhorted over and over again to seek things above.  Why?  Because in reality we have been raised with Christ into heavenly places.  That is our position.  God’s exhortations to us as Christians are based upon our new position in Christ.  “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy…” (Eph. 4:1a).  Walk worthy of what–?  Our high calling in Christ Jesus.  God has designed it so, that our position (when understood and believed, and reckoned to be so) will eventually have an effect on the condition of our life.

In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul describes how God sees us – our position in Christ.  Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” Where? “In Christ.”  In Christ we have already been blessed with all spiritual blessings.  That is why Paul says in Colossians 2:10 that you are complete in Him. There is nothing that is going to be added to our salvation other than the resurrection of our body.  We are already complete in Christ.

Ephesians 1:4 says, “According as he hath chosen us…” Where? “In him.”  We are in Christ Jesus, and we are chosen to be in Him.

In Ephesians 1:6 he says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted.”  And on what ground are we accepted?  “In the beloved.”  That is how God sees us, and that can never, ever change.  No matter what a wretch I may have been in my Christian life, my position never changes.  I possess everything.  I am complete in Christ.  He has chosen me and I am accepted.  Praise God!

In Ephesians 1:7 Paul wrote, “In whom.”  There is that expression again.  Our position is in Him, and what do we have in Him?  “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  No matter what happens in my life, I can know that God accepts me and my sins are forgiven.

“In whom” (here is our position again) “also we have obtained an inheritance.”  (Ephesians 1:11) We are rich in Christ.  We are in Him, therefore we possess all things.  We are heirs of all things.

Consider Ephesians 2:6. “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places.”  Where?  “In Christ Jesus.”  How does God see us?  He does not see me with my feet of clay. Rather, God sees me as one who is in Christ–in the risen, ascended, and glorified Christ.  God sees me as if I were already in Heaven.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.”  (Ephesians 2:10) He sees us as new creatures.

In Ephesians 2:13 we read, “But now.”  What is our position? “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” God sees us as being near to Him.

In Ephesians 2:22, “In whom” or in Him “ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  God sees believers of this age corporately as a building, His dwelling place.  When God looks down on us, He sees individuals, (if we are born again) who are complete in Christ, who are totally and forever accepted by God, whose sins have been washed away and forgiven.  He sees us as His heirs.  He sees us as His sons.  He sees us as those that are near to Him, the dwelling place of God upon the Earth.  These are all found in just two little chapters.  Read through the rest of Paul’s epistles and the rest of the New Testament.  We find that in Christ we have redemption.  In Christ we have wisdom and righteousness and sanctification.  In Christ we have His righteousness as our garment.  We are one body in Christ, and there is no condemnation for anyone in Christ.  We have forever been brought together with the love of God.

It is very humbling to see how God sees us.  This is not a spiritual wish list. We do not simply wish all these things were true.  This is spiritual reality whether we feel it or not.  Feelings have nothing to do with our relationship to God.  God says that my old man is dead.  Reckon it to be so.  I am a new creature in Christ.  Believe Him.  The cross really did change us totally and forever.  The cross accomplished more for us than we will ever begin to imagine in this life.  God sees us as holy ones.  God sees us as righteous.  God sees us as near to Him, His dwelling place, forgiven.  He sees us in His Son.  God is not saying that this is how you are going to be when you get to Heaven.  God is saying this is how we are right now.  This is our position in Christ.  Just believe it.

But, how do we see one another?  Our problem is that we do not dwell in the heavenlies.  We do not consider these positional truths, our union with Christ.  We so often get dragged down out of the heavenlies and into the earthly realm and start living as if we were under the Law.  We judge one another by appearances.  We are looking at the condition of the lives of others, and our own selves.  When I look at the condition of my life, all that seems to come to mind are my failures.  We judge one another and ourselves by things we said and wish we had never said, or by things we did and wish we never did.  We look at the Church and we see nothing but spots and wrinkles.  We look at the Church and we see the divisions: I’m of Paul; I’m of Apollos; I’m of Cephas.  We see the Church and we see people who stretch the truth like Ananias and Sapphira.  We see others who get involved in false doctrine like Hymenaeus and Philetus.  We see women that cannot get along like Syntyche and Euodias.  We see worldly people like Demas.  We see proud men like Diotrephes.  We are totally absorbed by the condition of things as we see them from an earthly prospective.  Therein lies our big failure.  When we dwell on the earthly, when we dwell on the external condition of things, when we dwell on conditional truth, we end up not living by faith. We end up living by feelings and sight. As we concentrate on the conditional truths, we become absorbed with our self.  We become self-conscious, self-centered, and discouraged because of our failures, maybe even depressed. We are ready to throw in the towel.  Not only so, but as we dwell on conditional truth, we become quite judgmental one of another.

What would you say if I said I knew of a church down the street in which some folks were coming to communion drunk?  Why, they were even hiring lawyers to sue one another! Incest, backsliding, division, and cliques were in that church.  You know what I am talking about.  The Bible tells us that Corinth was such a church.  All of those horrible conditions really existed in Corinth.  Read the opening chapter.  How does Paul address that group of wretches?  He said, to the saints in Christ Jesus, “to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus.”  Amazing!  They sure did not seem very sanctified.  Later on in I Corinthians 6:11 Paul said, “ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  The condition of their life was terrible.  But, it did not alter their position as saints one bit!

The condition of a genuine believer’s life does not have any effect on his position.  It can not change it.  No matter how miserable the lives of the Corinthians were, their position was that of a saint.  They were in the heavenlies.  They had already been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ.  Their condition did not change their position. However, their position in Christ (if they dwelled therein, meditated on it) ought to have a dramatic effect on the condition of their lives.

We do not see ourselves as God sees us.  God sees us in our new position in Christ.  We often see our earthly condition.  But, what the New Testament teaches us is that we need to change our thinking.  We need to change our attitude toward others and ourselves.  We need to see ourselves as God sees us.  We need to learn to see ourselves in Christ, accepted, forgiven, complete.  We need to know this.  That is what Paul said in Romans 6. I want you to know that your old man was crucified and that a new man has arisen.  You have to know these facts.  Ignorance never helped a Christian do anything.

Do you know what Peter commands us?  He said in II Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  Grow!  Mature! Grace is the rule of life for this dispensation.  Knowing who the Lord Jesus Christ is and what He accomplished for us on the cross is absolutely essential for growth.  It is faith that makes them real.  Faith produces spiritual growth in our lives.  “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Col. 2:6).  How did we receive Him?  By faith.  That was the first step on entering into life.  God wants us to continue in that same kind of faith.  So “walk ye in him”–with the same kind of faith, trusting and believing everything Godsaid.

Ignorance of who we are in Christ will produce spiritual retardation.  In Hebrews 5:12-14, the writer says, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,” (those that are mature) “even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  Here, the writer tells us that ignorance of our position in Christ, ignorance of our union with Him, and ignorance of all of our spiritual blessings will hinder our spiritual progress.  Here are believers who stopped growing–because they stopped knowing.  They stopped trusting.  They stopped filling their minds and hearts with these truths. They became retarded and actually went back to immaturity.  Ignorance of God’s truth will stunt our spiritual growth.  Yet, even backsliding does not change our position in Christ.

Do you remember how Paul addressed the Corinthians in I Corinthians 3?  I wanted to speak to you as spiritual, but could not.  I had to address you as babes in Christ.  They were in Christ but they were immature.  Paul wanted maturity in their lives.  If they were ever going to get it, they had to know who they were in Christ.  The epistle of I Corinthians is full of a rich description of their position as saints, as holy ones, and justified, and washed, and cleansed.  A babe in Christ possesses all the life he is ever going to get.  A babe in Christ possesses all the spiritual faculties he is ever going to receive.  He has a new mind and a new heart.  He has all the power of the resurrection available to him. He is not going to get any more, but he has to know how to use it.  He needs to know how to appropriate it by faith.  Ignorance of truth will always hinder our spiritual progression.  God wants us to know who we are in Christ and count it as a fact.  We are to believe that we really are in Christ, that we have been forgiven, that we are already accepted in the beloved, and that there will never be any condemnation for us.  We should not be dwelling on our failures.  We should be dwelling on Christ.

When I look at myself and the condition of my daily walk, I am painfully aware of my shortcomings.  It is hard to believe that this wonderful positional truth is true of me.  But, faith says it is true.  Do not go by feelings.  Do not go by past failures.  Believe what God says and walk that way.  Faith is able to transform what I am in Christ and make it a real experience in my daily living.

II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  What is the responsibility of the believer in this verse?  Is it to grow?  No.  How do you command somebody to grow?  God does that.  It is the Spirit of God that transforms us.  What is our responsibility in this verse?  It is to be beholding the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Open up the Word and there we ought to see God on every single page.  There we ought to see the glory of God in the Person of Jesus Christ.  As we dwell there, as our minds are taken up with Christ, as we dwell in that place, He is our life. Meditating on Him will have a transforming effect on our hearts.

Our minds should not be focused on the fluctuating, ever changing condition of our daily life.  Rather, we should be concentrating on Christ.  We are in Him.  He is our new position.  He is our life.  Our life is hidden in Christ.  II Corinthians 3:18 tells us that as we do that, God works in us.  God’s Holy Spirit does a miracle that we could never duplicate.  God changes us from glory to glory–to the image of Christ. He changes the condition of our daily life bit by bit, step by step, until it is closer and closer to our position in Christ.  We will never get there completely in this life, but progress toward that goal is what spiritual growth is all about.  God’s plan is this: Jesus Christ is everything to us.  He is the source of everything.  He is our life.  He is the source of all our spiritual blessings.  Faith enables us to make this real.  Faith enables us to experience the blessings that we have in Him.  Faith enables us to walk worthy of this high calling that we have in Him.  Faith is a hand that receives a gift from God.  Just as we received eternal life (by faith), so are we to receive all the other blessings.  Just keep holding out our hands by faith and they will be filled.  Faith begins a transformation process of new life.  Faith continues that transformation process of spiritual growth.

 

Abiding In Christ: Communion

Our position is in Christ.  It is hard to believe that God is really talking about me when He says that: I am chosen; I am forgiven; I am washed; I am cleansed; I am righteous; I am accepted; and there is no condemnation for me.  It is hard to believe He is talking about me. But, that is my position, and if you are born again, that is your position. That is how God sees us–and this is not just a wish.  This is what we really are because the cross changed us.  But that is only half the truth.  That is our position.  Now we want to talk about our condition.  I John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in him.”  There are no commands in the Bible for the believer to be in Christ.  God never says, get in Christ.  That is because we are already in Him.  Being in Christ (our position) is God’s work.  So, God never tells us to do that.  But, He does tell us many times to abide there.

We are told to abide in Him.  Abiding has to do with the condition of our life moment by moment.  Abiding in Christ has to do with our communion with Him day by day, minute by minute.  All true believers have been united to Christ.  This union exists whether we are aware of it or not.  We are in Christ if we are born again.  But, not all believers experience communion with God.  We all possess the union, but we do not all experience the communion.  We are all positioned in Christ, but the condition of our life fluctuates radically sometimes.  Spiritual growth is directly linked to our union with Christ–abiding in Him.  Spiritual growth is just a natural product of abiding in Christ.  Apart from abiding in Him we can do nothing.  But, when we abide in Christ, spiritual fruit will always be the result.  The word abide means to remain.  It means to dwell.  It means to tarry or to wait.  For example in John 1:38, the Jews said, “Rabbi… where dwellest thou?”  That word dwellest is the same word as abide.  It means where we live, where our hearts are.

In Acts 27, there was a storm at sea.  Paul told all the men, “abide in the ship” (Acts 27:31) and no harm would come to them.  They were told to just stay there and not to go anywhere.  He said remain right where you are.  In Acts 20, the disciples were on a journey and it says that they “tarried for us at Troas” (Acts 20:5).  That word for tarry is the word abide.  It means to wait.  So, abiding in Christ means living somewhere, dwelling somewhere, being at home somewhere, not leaving, continuing there, being comfortable there, waiting, and remaining where we have been placed.

John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”  Here Jesus commands us to abide in Him.  Let me ask you a question.  If our position in Christ is irreversible and unalterable, why then does Jesus say “abide in me”?  I thought we had no choice if we were in Christ.  Well, the distinction is this.  The command is not Get in Me.  We are already in Christ if we are born again.  The command is to dwell there, be comfortable there, abide there, wait there, tarry, rest.  As we abide in that position and as we get comfortable dwelling in Christ, having Him fill our minds and hearts, and as we really feel at home there, fruit is going to begin to be produced in our lives.

Jesus tells us the secret of a fruitful life in this passage.  In John 15:4 He says you “cannot bear fruit… except” you abide in Me.  Fruit does not happen any other way than by staying close, and waiting on the Lord and trusting in Him.  In the next verse He says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.”  So, without Him we can do absolutely nothing. But, when we abide in Him, we not only will bring forth fruit, we will bring forth fruit abundantly!  So, what is the responsibility of the branch?  In this illustration in John 15:1, Jesus is speaking of Himself as the Vine.  We are the branches in that Vine.  God’s purpose is for there to be fruit.  So, what is our responsibility?  It is not to produce fruit. A branch cannot do it on his own.  Our responsibility is to abide there, to stay there, to wait upon the Lord, to remain close to Him. Do not jump ship when the storms of life hit.  Do not wander away to the world.  Remain right there.  Do not get puffed up and think you can produce fruit all on your own.  You will wither away.  Just stay right there.  As we wait, and as we rest in Him, and as we yield our members unto Him as a branch in the Vine, then He will produce fruit through us.

Christians never produce fruit.  We bear it.  Fruit is the work of the Holy Spirit, produced in us as we behold the glory of God.  We are going to be bearing the fruit of the Spirit.  So, Jesus tells us here simply to wait, rest, abide.  And there is something wonderful about this Vine.  The Vine has absolutely every thing we need.  The Vine supplies every possible need that a little branch could ever have in order to produce fruit.  The life of the Vine flows through the branch.  The nutrients of the Vine flow through the branch and it produces fruit.  You see, this is what God wants us to learn, and it is a hard lesson: that I cannot do anything, that in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.  My flesh is incurably sick.  But, Christ is all.  He meets all my needs if I will just stay there close to Him.  I am not dependent on the other branches to supply my needs.  I am dependenton Christ.  He is the source.   There is nothing outside of the Vine that can meet my needs.  They are only met in the Vine–in Christ.  We are complete in Him.  We have nothing in ourselves and everything in Him.  All that the Vine possesses belongs to the branches as well.  If we will just stay there we will experience His life, His love, His power, His strength, His mercy, and His compassion.  We are channels only.  He will do the work in us if we will just stay there and wait upon Him.

Gradually we will be conformed from glory to glory into His image.  But, it does not happen over night.  Fruit takes time.  As Americans we hate that concept.  We like instant everything.  Remember when the microwave came out?  Oh, this was awesome.  It was just what we had been waiting for–instant hot.  Now it has been out for a while and we are impatient with the microwave.  It does not heat things fast enough.  Spiritual growth is not instant.  That is not how God works in our lives.  God’s method is this: a seed goes into the ground and that hard, dead, outer crust rots and it falls away and it dies.  Out of that death springs forth a little sprout of life.  First the blade and then the ear… but it takes time for fruit to appear.  Growth is a long process and it cannot be rushed.  Yet, in the flesh we have such a hard time sitting still.  Waiting is the hardest thing God has called us to do–resting, abiding.  You see, the flesh would much rather do something.  The flesh would much rather get busy and produce something on its own.  I get tired of waiting. God’s plan seems so long, so drawn out.  It seems I will never be like the Lord.  The flesh has a mind of its own.

Before we came to Christ, our flesh had this attitude: Salvation? I can do that! I will just try harder if I need to be saved.  I will put forth my best effort.  (The sinner needs to learn that he has nothing good to offer God!)  But after we become saved, the flesh has not changed a bit.  The flesh still has that same old attitude.  Spiritual growth? Oh, I can do that! I will put forth my best effort in.  I will try real hard to be holy, and I will be good.  I can produce fruit! Yet the Bible says “that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18).  The flesh is incurably sick Jeremiah says.  The carnal mind is enmity against God.  The flesh is always contrary to the Spirit.  It does not matter how good our intentions are.  It does not matter how hard we try.  Sadly, so often, new believers are urged, pleaded with, prodded and poked–  Get out there and produce fruit.  It is such a frustrating exercise because the flesh can never, ever do it.   In the flesh we can never produce God’s love.  Oh, we can manufacture some human love that might look on the surface quite similar.  We can never produce the joy of the Holy Spirit that exists even in trials and tragedies.  We can put on a phony smile and make it look like it is the same thing. The flesh cannot produce real spiritual fruit.  Only God can do that.

God wants us to arrive at the place where we will genuinely believe Him when He says that our flesh is vile!  It is useless.  There is nothing good in it!  Let it die.  Reckon it to be so.  Come to the end of self.  Stop struggling to try to produce this fruit on your own.  And, start resting in Jesus Christ.  We need to stop struggling in our frustrating condition–our helpless condition, and start resting in our glorious position.  Fruit will be borne.  It is a hard lesson, but Jesus said at the end of the verse in John 15:5, “without me ye can do nothing.”  We do not like to think of ourselves as being totally incapable of doing anything good in God’s sight, but we are.  Notice also in this verse He says of the one that abides, “the same bringeth forth much fruit.”

Here is God’s plan.  Stop concentrating on trying to produce fruit, trying to manufacture something in the flesh.  We can never produce, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).  This is the fruit of the Spirit. It is phony when we try to do it ourselves.  God’s method is to concentrate on Jesus Christ.  Keep your heart right with Him.  Abide in Christ.  Our job is not to produce fruit; our job is to abide in the Vine.  It is to wait on the Lord.  Let Him work in our hearts.  Commune with Him.  Stay in fellowship, and remain there.  Abide in Him.  Stay yielded.  As we do, God works in us.  We may not see anything happening.  Did you notice yourself growing today?  Probably you did not.  It takes time to see the results of growth.  We want instant growth, instant gratification, and instant fruit.  We are in a hurry and God is not.  Do you know what the natural bent of human nature is?  We perceive that spiritual growth is taking so long that we decide to take matters into our own hands, and to do it ourselves!  That is what Abraham did.  God said you and Sarah are going to have a son. Sarah laughed.  Abraham waited and waited, but it did not happen.  He was an old man, and he said I can’t wait anymore.  I cannot abide any more–  I cannot just trust in what God says.  I am going to have to take matters into my own hands and DO something. And, he did.  He had a son, but that son became a thorn in his family’s side for many years.  You see the big temptation is to manufacture something that looks like the real thing.  Hence we see in some churches endless altar calls.  Men are continually called to come forward because they cannot stand having the service end without seeing something.

The flesh takes over, often with good intentions and a desire to please God. “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18).  Fleshly methods always result in the kind of frustration that Paul describes in Romans 7.

God’s method in this age is grace.  It is a different principle all together than Law.  Whether we speak of justification, becoming saved, or sanctification, growing in the Lord–it is all by grace and it is all through faith.  The Law and the flesh say, get out there and DO something.  The Law and the flesh say–work.  But grace and faith say–rest.  The work is finished.  Just believe it.  Believe that God has changed you, and walk on that basis, with your faith resting, (not on your feelings, or on your past failures) but on what God has said.

The end result is fruit that brings honor and glory to God.  Paul says in II Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  We are to concentrate on Christ, and focus on Him. He is our all.  He is the source of everything we need.  If we will concentrate on Christ, God will do the work of changing our hearts and making us like Him.  We need to give God time.  We need to let God work.  We need to learn to wait upon the Lord.  We need to learn to rest in Him, to abide in Christ, and believe that His life really is in us and changing us.  Believe that when Jesus said, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (Jn. 15:5), is real even for me!  That is faith, (resting, trusting, waiting, abiding, believing) and that is God’s plan for sanctification! We are justified by faith AND we are sanctified by faith, too. Faith is the victory!