Legal definitions of sin and righteousness provide the illusion that one can be godly by wearing a hijab, being a church-goer or doing some charitable works. These actions have no effect on our holiness and acceptance with God, nor can they. Sin is a state of being, a distortion of our life caused by separation from God that brings about separation from ourselves, from others and from the creation. Sin degrades us.
ROOT, VINE, FRUIT
Unless we are branches of the vine and living in what is ours – union with God our actions are not whole and we do not build the Kingdom of God by doing them. Jesus made this clear when He said, ‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
Jesus imparted life because He and His Father are one. We impart life when we live in the inheritance that is ours since the cross. We and Jesus are one – which means that we and our Father are one. This union is the ‘ground’ of the Kingdom and the soil of the anointing and the gifts.
SINS IS MORE THAN PROPOSITIONAL
Sin results from separation from God. A good definition would be attempting to live a godly life outside Jesus. Sin can be defined as,
“Any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” This definition of sin is a typically legal understanding of sin as violation of the law of God.
But sin is far more profound than breaking the law, either by failure to do what we should do, or by doing what we should not do.
The catechism, as well as the whole legal orientation of Western theology, confuses the root with the fruit. The problem introduced by the Fall of Adam was not simply that humanity began breaking the rules. The problem was that humanity became diseased. The disease is the root problem. Breaking the law is the symptom.”(1)
Sin is an evil distortion of life based on a lie - mainly the lie that we can be Godly in separation from God. The culture of sin is the knowledge of good and evil and vice versa. Thus the cure for sin is not only forgiveness. It is union with God.
NOT IN THE LETTER BUT IN BEING
The union we possess since the cross is both legal and ontological – which is to say that in Jesus we have literal union with the trinity. This union is the result of the enterprise of the trinity. It has nothing it replaces the law of Moses with the Law of the Spirit of Life which is both Christ in us and our interwoveness with the trinity.
We are not part of this ‘belonging’ because we read a scripture about being part of the ‘one loaf’. We are in this belonging because we agree in our hearts that Christ alone is our life.
We can notionally belong to the Body of Christ but be separated from Him in spirit and in truth. Why? Because we can be insulated from God by our adherence to the law and our delinquent addiction to an old covenant mindset. Let’s be clear. The reality we live in is the reality we have adopted in our minds. We can wrongly divide the word of truth and be left in separation from God – not because we are separated but because we have another gospel that curses us with the lie of separation.
All ‘belong’ notionally as a result of the cross. We belong experientially when we believe what God believes – which is that Christ is our life.
As Thomas Torrance often points out, our union with God is ontological, which is to say a real state of being that has occurred because we have agreed that we have been received into Christ’s life and we have received all that He is and stands for into ours – namely His union with the God as trinity.
Sin is a deep and pervasive alienation of our being from God that results in a diseased soul, body and spirit. This separation produces something like the ‘orc’ of The Lord of the Rings.
If sin’s cause is not a mere legality neither is our healing and elevation to sonship in spirit and in truth a mere assertion. Our restoration and new creation life comes from a real change in being – a change in mindset and a change in realisation – that we are part of God as sons who live in His company and who are imbued with His Presence. Jesus called this THE NEW BIRTH.
REALISING – SEEING - BEING
In John’s gospel we find this foundational statement, ‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV. As implied in what we have said so far, this is more than a mere assertion. It is actually a description of persons who are born again. It’s not as ephemeral as some assent they made by raising their hand in church. It’s a ‘way’ that became their life: The new and living way that is Christ’s Spirit expressed as them. Baxster Kruger observes,
“How did God’s freedom from self-centeredness and freedom for self-giving, and thus freedom for fellowship, get from God into Adam and Eve? The answer, to borrow a statement from Jesus (JN 8:31-32), is that Adam and Eve knew the truth, and it was by knowing the truth that they experienced God’s freedom. Moreover, in living out that freedom, that freedom from self-centeredness and freedom for self-giving, they experienced fellowship, and fellowship filled their “existence” with “abounding life.” (2)
If we do not have freedom to distort our lives with the devil’s lies we do not have freedom to concoct a gospel of our own and expect to minister the Kingdom of God.
The fullness of life is about knowing the truth; about knowing God’s truth about Himself and about us in relationship. It’s not about our well rationalised ideas, our partisan gospel or the concepts to which we have been addicted all our lives. Liberty and life are found in the immersion and baptism into God’s truth and His undoing of the fabric of death woven by the Father of Lies.