The Change

No Guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me.

Songwriters Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty wrote these words for the last part of a song entitled In Christ Alone. Both men openly admit biblical truth is the substance for empowering their creative desire to write songs of praise that deepen the worship experience.

In fact, biblical truth should be the foundation for empowering every believer to live a life free from guilt, without fear, and in praise to the risen and ascended Lord (Philippians 4:4–8).

The joy of the Lord is our strength in Christ alone; a promise realized when the power of Christ inwardly transforms the soul’s emphasis from earthly things to heavenly things. The apostle Paul wrote often about this astounding transformation, as in the following verse:

[Since] you then were raised with Christ, desire those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not things on earth. (Colossians 3:1–2 MEV)

Though easy to say, this is hard to do. One ongoing challenge for every believer is learning how to deal with the new reality of heavenly things contrasted against earthly things; and yet the apostle Paul calls for the believer to be transformed from the world by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).

Accordingly, the Christian life becomes the easiest-hardest thing one will ever do and continue doing. Why?

Because change can be excruciating and confusing to the mind. At times, change gives the impression God is nowhere to be found. And yet we endure and trust God knowing the Refiner of valuable metal is nearby watching and waiting for us to come forth as pure gold (1 Peter 1:7).

About becoming a new creation in Christ, the apostle Paul wrote to “reckon” our old nature crucified and dead, having lost its power to hold us captive. The word “reckon” means to believe something is indeed true. In Greek the word is logizomai and literally means “to consider, suppose, or count.”

By faith we reckon the old nature crucified. By faith, we walk away from its grasp. But, are we really free from it? Can a crucified, dead carcass live again? Can it still follow sin, as if it was alive? It depends. Sin’s carcass is dead by faith for those who believe it is and alive for those who don’t, and herein Paul’s admonition: Fight the good fight of faith and take hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12).

A True Story

A believer was invited by a friend to attend a party. Some high school and college friends were attending too. Young in his faith and somewhat naïve about life, he reasoned it would be good to see them again. He forgot the party was earthly and stood in contrast to the heavenly. He forgot or didn’t know to set his mind on Christ. Entering the smoke-filled room, he noticed drunkenness, vulgarity and debauchery on a scale he’d never known.

Then the desire to stay and rekindle old friendships became real. He began to struggle. The temptation to stay began to revive his old nature: it began to whisper from the cross for permission to slither down and back into his life. His new nature was saying no and reminding him to judge the old nature unworthy of life. After all, what fellowship has light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14–17)?

Unknowingly, he was breathing life back into the old sin nature by thinking about the pleasures of life. He was being drawn into sin.

Recognizing the truth and realizing going to the party was a bad idea, he refocused on heavenly things and turned around, walking out into the cool of the night. He looked up at the night stars twinkling in all their glory and said; “Thank you Lord!” He went home never again to look back.

This experience for the young convert would be the first among many victories, mixed with failure over time. Growing up to walk in the faith is not without tumbles. Thinking about heavenly things is hard to do in a world where the mind becomes a battle field, a fierce struggle between truth and lies (Ephesians 6:10–18).

A lifetime of Change

Over the years we meet those saying they are sinners saved by grace, who forget they are also new creations in Christ. They focus on what they were without realizing they have a new life now hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Raised with Christ and seated in the heavenlies is our new identity; it is our heavenly anchor point. From this perspective our mind naturally ascends heavenward to set our affections on heavenly things. Earthly things belong to the old nature and heavenly things to the new. The apostle Paul wrote, “For me to live is Christ…” (Philippians 1:21). This is the power of Christ in me.

The Take Away

The story about the party is one example of living a sanctified life by anchoring our focus on Christ, thus keeping the old nature crucified. The story of the party is every believer’s story lived out many times daily and countless times over a lifetime. Life in the resurrected Christ is about change, renewing the mind to focus on heavenly things.

Such stories are many among believers and one evidence their justification (pardon) is real, enabling them think on heavenly things and walk holy (Romans 12:1–2). What’s more, the Bible is not suggesting we can walk flawlessly in the Lord’s likeness, but that our heart should desire that end (1 Peter 1:15–16).

In closing, even on our best day of living for God, we will come short of the mark in one way or another, to one degree or another (1 John 1:8). But here’s the point: Even the apostle Paul admitted to the life-long struggle for holy perfection (Philippians 3:13); and about such John MacArthur once said: “The Christian life is about direction, not perfection!”

Now justified as children of God and anchored in the heavenlies, we can sing, No guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me.

Part 8 – The Glory

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Got Questions – What is Progressive Sanctification?

Additional Resource: Paul Washer – Being what you are in Christ – Heart Cry Ministries

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