In Jesus Christ we are justified and sanctified. As Believers we are becoming who we are in Christ when we agree with Paul that Christ is our life and with John that Christ has come in our flesh. We are justified in Christ and Christ is becoming George and Jill as well as Sam and Sarah. This is to live an adventure with the Lord of increasing freedom and joy in simply being alive and becoming ourselves.
My wife and I have this conversation at times. She thinks one does not change a great deal even once one has become a Believer. I have a more optimistic view. Having said that one can never think that one has attained any great degree of holiness just because one no longer gets drunk on a regular basis or has stopped shouting at the Kids. The opportunity to become one’s real self as a result of being hidden in Christ is so cool that only the Lord could have thought of it.
GRACE IS RADICAL
When Christ is our life we are graced with radical grace. Graced to live our lives without obsessive self-examination or Christian narcissism because Jesus is who we are and who we are becoming. Having said that I am certain that one who lives from the incarnated Christ does better as a gracious person than one who lives from assorted legalisms.
The opportunity to live Christ our life is an adventure because it is holistic and comprehensive. It’s not moralism and does not involve the deceit/conceit of our manufacturing a false grace consisting of personal, fashionable or denominational criteria along with box-ticking that gives the illusion that one has made a ‘grace-frame’ of one’s own. Grace has more to do with being than doing. By agreeing with Christ in our oneness with Christ, we do bear the fruit of the Spirit of Christ who is woven into our being and expressed as George and Philippa.
Jeff McSwain observes, “Following Luther, Barth believed gradualist, zero-sum sanctification theories can only delude believers into imagining 1) they are able to leave their sinfulness behind, or 2) they are earning favour by their obedient performances—favour that as iustus humans they have already been given—hence obscuring righteousness with self-righteousness.” (1)
FALSE SELF/REAL SELF
Christ is our life in that He is our grace and our transformation. Don’t expect to transform much if you are living from the law. Adding abstractions to oneself will not make us a person. Thomas Merton said it was actually dangerous to put the scriptures in the hands of people whose inner self is not yet sufficiently awakened to encounter the Spirit, because they will try to use God for their own egocentric purposes. They will resort to scripture to deny that Christ is our life because their commitment is to their brand of Christianity.
CHRIST LIVES IN ME
From time to time I have encountered sincere writers who suggest that in Christ Believers can attain sinless perfection. I believe we can overcome. But I have never seen a perfect person and know of no Godly man or woman who claims it. Sadly, I am aware of folks who retain themselves in the law – their version of it – instead of entering the Sabbath rest of Christ their life – because they designate their own righteousness and because they are glued to ‘doing things’ that they think entitle them to God’s favour. Self - manufactured grace and righteousness are a pair with a biased justification hovering in the background.
CHRIST SAVES US
I picked this up somewhere in my reading and I believe it to be true.
Don’t say to non-believers, ‘I love you but I hate your sin,’ because their sin is part of them.’ So is yours and so is ours. Our journey from glory to glory means we are not there yet. Nevertheless, we are becoming who we are because Christ is our life.
To live in the Grace that is the vicarious humanity of Jesus is to swim and cavort in the River of Life that flows from the throne of God. This life surrounds us and is in us with the result that we do not live a religious life. Our daily walk is characterised by spirit and life as we live out the personhood of Jesus and press into who we actually are as sons and daughters of God.
(1) McSwain, Jeff. Simul Sanctification: Barth’s Hidden Vision for Human Transformation (Princeton Theological Monograph Series Book 232) (p. 29). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.