Living Now in the Freedom and Victory of Christ

The Apostle John tells us that at His first appearing, Christ won a tremendous victory for God. This present victory has so many different aspects, but the two most important are these:

  • “You know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins” (1 John 3:5)
  • “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (3:8b)

Jesus is both the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the victorious conqueror over the powers of evil. Because of this great work in Christ, and our identity as God’s children, as disciples of Christ we can live now in freedom from sin and victory over the devil and his works.

John specifically calls the believers to not be led astray in this. If God is our Father, if we are born of God and children of God, then our lives—our everyday actions and words—should reflect this new identity. If we have been set free from sin, then we should not return to enslave ourselves to it.

If Jesus has the victory over the devil, then we should not put ourselves into his service again. Our way of life—our lifestyle – should reflect who we are. And so, we should not look like the devil:

  • “No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (3:6)
  • Such a person “does what is sinful” (3:8), “does not do what is right” (3:10), and “does not love their brother or sister” (3:10)

John says that’s not the way that children of God speak, act, or carry themselves. Instead, children of God look like God is their Father. Such a person:

  • “Does what is righteous, just as [God] is righteous” (3:7)
  • “Cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God” (3:9)

As the old saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Our spiritual lives are anchored in the love of God and our identity as children of God. This identity is at the core of our being. It is not intended to be an informational reality but a transformational reality. And our lives, based in that new reality, should reflect the character of God.

How do we do that? Well, there are several examples found in the Scripture, but one of the easiest to grasp is found in Ephesians 4, where Paul is instructing the believers on how to live their lives for and with God. Paul writes:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

We must choose to take off the old self—the self controlled by sin and deceitful desires—the self that looks more like the devil. We must daily, even moment by moment, choose to take that way of living off.

We must have the attitude of our minds renewed. Actually the Greek conveys the sense of a renewing of the mind by the Spirit. We must let the truth of God become an inwardly transforming truth by the Holy Spirit’s power. We must know who we are in a deep way and be controlled by the Holy Spirit,  not by whatever changing winds tries to influence our spirit.

We must then put on the new self—the self that arises from knowing who we are and is sustained by the indwelling presence of God—and live by God’s power in God’s righteousness and holiness.

All in all, this journey of spiritual formation is a daily way of living that is centered in God’s truth and empowered by God’s presence as we moment-by-moment decide against sin and decide for God. The transformational knowledge that we are children of God practically changes how we live each day—we grow to look more like God our Father.

A Prayer inspired by Hebrews 2

image 3 - Hebrews

Throughout our new series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews,” I am writing prayers related to the text on which we are preaching each week. This prayer is drawn from Hebrews 2. The complete list of prayers from Hebrews is included at the bottom of this post. You could also view a message, “The Mystery of the Incarnation,” from this passage by Pastor Nic Fridenmaker here.

Father God, we praise You
for Your mysterious wisdom
in sending Jesus, Your eternally-begotten Son,
as our incarnate Messiah.

Jesus the Son, we are in awe of You,
the perfect human who restored our fractured glory
by taking the destructive way of the Cross
and making it the way that brings life.

Thank You for sharing the humility of our flesh and blood
by entering into human temptation and suffering.
Thank You for bringing divine balm for sin’s pain
and freedom from death by breaking the power of the devil.

Holy Spirit, we need Your presence and power
more than we understand within every moment of every day.
Strengthen us to receive divine grace through Christ’s sacrificial gift
and empower us to live our daily lives yielded to You.

All this we pray in the name
of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—
One God, from eternity past to eternity future—
to whom belongs all honor and glory both now and forever.
Amen.


Prayers from Hebrews:

The Return of Christ: 5 Aspects and 3 Images

MP900438983This morning I had the privilege of speaking at Eastbrook‘s monthly men’s breakfast on the topic: “Jesus Our Coming King.” I began with an overview of the narrative arc of Jesus’ life:

  • Nativity and birth
  • Life: teaching, miracles, mission
  • Crucifixion
  • Resurrection
  • Ascension
  • Intercession
  • Return

I then shared five aspects of Jesus’ return:

  1. It will happen (Acts 1:8; John 14:3)
  2. It will happen in God’s time (Acts 1:6-7; Matthew 24:36)
  3. It will be recognizable to all (1 Thessalonians 4:15; Revelation 1:7-8)
  4. It will bring the fullness of Christ’s victorious kingdom over all (Revelation 19:11-16; 21:1-5)
  5. It will bring vindication for God’s people in the sight of all (1 Thessalonians 4:11-5; 1 John 3:2)

I closed with three images from Scripture on how we should live within the time between Christ’s first and second comings:

1. We are groomsmen – friends of the bridegroom (John 3:27-30)

  • waiting
  • listening
  • preparing the bride for the bridegroom

2. We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

  • given the message of reconciliation between God and men in Christ
  • God makes an appeal through us

3. We are watchmen (Psalm 130:6;  Timothy 2:3-7)

  • we are watching
  • we are at the ready
  • we are like soldiers and athletes prepared for action

Hidden Victory within Suffering

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Is it possible for anything good to come from suffering?

That question is the starting point for my message this past weekend at Eastbrook Church as I continued our series, “Exiles: A Study of 1 Peter.” We journeyed through 1 Peter 3:13-22, where Peter brings together our unjust suffering with Jesus’ unjust suffering.

You can watch the message here or subscribe to our audio podcast, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site.

If you’re interested in getting to know us more at Eastbrook, please take a moment to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo. You could also join our community by downloading the Eastbrook app.

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Empty

A lot of times we think of the word ’empty’ in a negative light. But when does emptiness become a good thing? Our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection – and the empty tomb – sheds some important light on that.

My message this past Easter weekend at Eastbrook Church was an exploration of the meaning of “Empty” in light of the resurrection. I walked through John 20:1-31, with reference to a few different passages along the way.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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