This month I found myself struggling with “am I saved?,” “am I going to hell?,” “why don’t I feel like Christian?” The Lord was gracious to me as He always is. He led me to the message of Grace and some teachers and their websites who knew more about it than I do. I’ll give you some links at the end of this article.
I don’t know about you but, in my Christian life I have struggled with the fact that I still commit “sins.” I try harder – then I fail – then I repent. The cycle repeats itself over and over until at some point I’m so discouraged that I find myself walking down the aisle at the end of church service to rededicate my life to the Lord, and then the whole thing begins again and I don’t perform any better.
I let the fact that I don’t always do the right thing, don’t always live the way I should, don’t always read my bible or pray, or appear to be what I think Christian should be, determine whether or not I’m measuring up to what God expects of me. I usually feel a lot of guilt because of things I haven’t done, or things that I have done. I sometimes have guilt about wrong thoughts I might have had or might be having. Sometimes this leads me to depression.
Well, what I have been reminded of in the past several weeks is God’s grace. My behavior or actions don’t determine whether or not I am a Christian. My actions don’t affect who I am in Christ. They don’t determine my righteousness. In a sense I had lost my mind because, in fact, the bible says this about the person who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sin:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
This scripture says that I was dead in sin and that God made me alive with Christ. He forgave my sin and canceled the written code ( the law) that was against me and stood opposed to me. He took it away and nailed it to the cross. Other scriptures also indicate that I have died with Christ, that the person I was before I came to know Christ as Lord and savior is dead! This is not allegory. The life I have now is in Christ. In fact, it is Christ’s life. You might say Christ has fused me to himself. He is my life.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.(Colossian 3:3-4)
If you have been struggling in the same ways I have I suggest you begin absorbing the epistles of Paul (Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Colossians, Ephesians, Galatians). In them, he teaches who we are in Christ. Take notice of what the scripture is saying about you as you are in Christ. You will find that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have been made new. You are a new creation. You have been born again, pure, holy, and righteous. Jesus not only died for our sin, He died to give us His own righteousness. That’s how God sees you and me, as holy and righteous. You and I are His perfect sons and daughters, without sin, in Christ.
My flesh has not been changed. This is where sinful desires come from. It is easy to be deceived into following the desires of the flesh. It is also easy to be deceived into thinking that we are the flesh because we feel it’s desires. That is something I learned from Ralph Harris. But you we are not “the flesh.” We are a new creation and the Spirit of the Lord lives within us. The bible says that the Spirit wars against the flesh. That is why we have conflicting desires at times. (Romans 8.) Knowing who and what we are in Christ is the best way to overcome the flesh and its desires.
As I began to listen and read the teachings of the Gospel, the good news, I began to feel better about myself. I am not the rotten, no good person, who deserves death that I was thinking. I have already died, with Christ. And now I have been raised in Christ to new life.
It is amazing how much of this information I had already learned. However, when you start to focus on your performance and doing things outside of Christ it is easy to forget who you are in Him. And when your focus shifts it is easy to be deceived into thinking that your actions and what you do in life determine how good you are. You end up trying to maintain your righteousness by your own works. You will crash and burn every time.
It is all about Christ. You have not failed. No matter what your circumstance or what you have done or, have not done, you have not failed. It is Christ’ life in you. He is in you to live His life. He will not fail.
Now I don’t have all the answers. I have found a few websites that I believe will help to get going in the right direction. Maybe they will help you too. Also, don’t forget to immerse yourself in the epistles of Paul. It is grace! And it is amazing how little Christians actually know about it. I know I lack a significant understanding. I hope you will at least take a look and hear what is being presented. Check out the sites below:
- Life Course Ministries Be sure to check out downloadable stuff
- Ralph Harris Blog
- Grace Roots Be sure to check out the podcast
- Grace Walk Ministries
- Steve McVey Blog