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Be Who You Already Are in Christ

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

As I study the New Testament the essential ethic that the apostles teach the church is “be who you already are in Christ.”  Yet the question I often get asked is, how?  How can I be who I already am in Christ?  Well, the simple answer is start reckoning in your mind the truth of what Christ has done at the cross for you and begin to live that truth out.  However, for many, more practical suggestions are needed to help think about our position in Christ.  Several weeks ago I finished preaching through Titus and one of the applications I made was to be who you are in Christ, but I followed that statement up with three ways to help the believer in this task.  These points are in no way exhaustive, but hopefully prove helpful.

1.) Understand the Gospel

The way in which we understand the full depth of who we are in Christ is by understanding what God’s Word says about the gospel. Specifically, we must understand the Old Testament promises to God’s people. It says in Galatians 3:8 that Abraham had the gospel preached to him when God said, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” The gospel began in the Old Testament. For us to appreciate and savor the richness of who we are in Christ demands that we know and understand what was promised in the Old Testament. We need to believe that what was promised in the Old Testament has now been given to us through the preaching of the gospel and our union with Christ.  Since we are the recipients of the Old Testament promises then we must live as we truly are in Jesus because he has accomplished all these things for us.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 1 Peter 1:10-12

2.) Meditate on the Gospel

We must not only know and understand what Scripture teaches concerning the gospel, but we must constantly subject our minds to meditating on gospel truths. Meditation means thinking and reflecting seriously and thoughtfully about the gospel. And the way we do this is when we give our attention to God’s Word. We must constantly be reminded of who we are in Christ and what we have been given in him. How do we meditate on the gospel? We read it, we listen to it, and we memorize it. One of the greatest benefits in your life can be memorizing God’s Word.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

3.) Pray the Gospel

We must pray to God and thank him for the gospel.  When we pray this way, we recount the gospel and remind ourselves of it. One of the best things you can do is read the prayers in the New Testament and see how they are packed with gospel content. Paul is especially fond of reminding his hearers of what they were before Christ and who they now are in Christ because the gospel has changed them. Our prayers need to be full of gospel content giving thanks to God for what he has done in his Son.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14.

You see the progression here: Understand the gospel (i.e., understand the content, how it fits together, what it means), meditate on the gospel (i.e., internalize it, make it part of who you are, fill yourself up with it), and then pray the gospel (i.e., verbalize it, give thanks, pray always with this goal in mind). Notice that we need all three, but also notice that one cannot be done without the other. True Christian growth must begin with the gospel. We grow by knowing the gospel, teaching the gospel, preaching the gospel, meditating on the gospel, memorizing the gospel, writing out the gospel, listening to the gospel, and praying the gospel. We must do this minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and year-by-year because the gospel is the total work of God in our lives. We must think, live, and reflect in every sphere of our existence the promises of God that are now fulfilled in Christ and given to all those who believe in him.

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