Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Believer's Two Natures (Part 6)

Power for Victory Over Sin (Continued)

No Condemnation 
Much of the misery of going through these struggles with sin is due to the Christian’s conscience continually condemning him for giving way to sin. And it is right that his conscience should condemn him, not only for every sin he commits but also for every failure to do the good he knows he ought to do. 

The great and glorious fact of the gospel of God’s grace is that, although the believer’s conscience always should condemn sin and failure in him, God never condemns him for it. God always sees the believer in Christ as having already passed through, and left behind him forever, all the condemnation and judgment due him for sin. So he is ever free and beyond the reach of condemnation and judgment. 

This seems too good to be true, so the first impulse when we hear this statement is to say, “That can’t be true. God has to condemn sin.” Yes, it is true that God has to condemn sin, but the wonderful fact is, He already has judged our sin when Christ took our place on the cross. We died, so to speak, in the Person of Christ, our Substitute. Christ’s death is reckoned as ours before God. So we are no longer under condemnation because of the old nature and our sins: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). 

The Only Source of Power 
Christ is the answer to all our struggles against sin. In Him alone is the power we need for victory. What relief we get from our misery, what victory we experience when we give ourselves over completely to Him to let Him deliver us from the bondage of sin by His power! 

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous require­ment of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:2-4). As long as we cling to any confidence in ourselves and struggle on in our own strength, we only hinder Him from working in power by His Spirit in our lives. 

Christ gave us a simple illustration of how this power works in John 15 when He used the figure of the vine and the branches: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:4-5). 

Look at those big bunches of grapes hanging on that branch. Where did that branch get the power to produce such wonderful fruit? Surely not by its own efforts, but by remaining in living contact with the vine, which sends its life-giving sap into the branch to produce the fruit. 

So it is with the Christian. He has no power himself to produce fruit, even though in the new nature he longs to do so. All his struggling in his own strength only ends in miserable failure. But when he realizes his power­lessness, gives up the struggle and looks to the Lord, power flows from Him by the Holy Spirit to give victory over sin and to produce fruit in his life, thereby bringing joy and peace. 

We have another illustration of this in Peter’s walking on the water in Matthew 14:28-33. Peter had no power in himself to walk on the water and he knew it. But while he kept his eyes on the Lord, the Lord upheld him by His power in every step he took. When Peter turned his eyes from the Lord he began to sink. What did he do? Struggle to keep up? No. He did the only sensible thing He could. He called out to the Lord to save him from sinking, and the Lord immediately stretched out His hand and lifted him up. 

So it is in our spiritual lives. We have no power in ourselves to walk right. But if we keep counting on the Lord for it and step out, He will give us power by His Spirit to walk on for His glory. If we fail to do this and begin to sink, what should we do? Simply cry to Him for help as Peter did; He will lift us up again. 

Let us never forget that Christ is always the answer to everything that troubles us. Without Him we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). The more we keep in touch with Him the more victory, peace and joy we will have in our lives.

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