The Spiritual Formation team has the privilege every Tuesday of speaking to the Residency class. We have slowly been walking through The Anatomy of a Disciple and the past couple weeks we have been talking about being morally discerning. Of course my black and white, rule-loving brain thought, “Great! We can talk about making good decisions for the sake of Christ when it comes to alcohol and rated R movies!” And while those topics are worth having conversations about, they are not the primary issues when it comes to moral discernment. In order to make good decisions for the sake of Christ, we need to know who we are in Christ.
How do you view yourself? How do you think God views you?
Too often I find myself with the mindset of someone who is trying to attain Christ’s righteousness. My own righteousness is the carrot that is dangled in front of me. I often feel like if I work hard enough I will be able to grab it. I feel like a sinner who is daily putting on Christ like clothes. I put on Jesus like a jacket to cover up who I am. I eventually get uncomfortable and take the jacket off. Guilt then sets in as I realize about who I am and that I can never do enough to earn God’s favor. This gets exhausting and isn’t how God intended it. The truth of the matter is, we aren’t sinners trying to put on Christ’s righteousness. We haven’t just been given His righteousness to put on; we have been given a new identity! We no longer identify with the sinful people that we once were. God sees Christ’s righteousness when he looks at us. What a beautiful thing!
Do you believe that? Or do you think God sees you as someone who needs to do better, someone who has failed yet again at your morning devotionals, gossip, lust etc.? Yes, God wants our obedience and self-discipline, but when he looks at us he sees His son’s perfection. Not because we put it on really well that day, but because it is our identity now.
It is true that without Christ, we are desperate sinners, incapable of pleasing God. But once we have seen our sin in the light of God’s holiness, humbly submitted to Christ, we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). Our self-seeking identity is put to death and we now live in Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, the process of spiritual formation happens when we “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and rest in our identity that is found in the perfect life of Christ.
Realizing this makes moral decision-making so much easier. I am not making decisions as a sinner trying to attain Christ’s perfection; I’m making decisions as a perfect person taking off my flesh and walking in close relationship to Christ. We don’t have to use a rule-based filter, but rather one that asks, “Since Christ dwells in me, will this decision be beneficial to me or enslave me? Am I doing this for myself or for others?” Understanding our true identity and acting from that is a much stronger motivator than guilt!
I’m so thankful for a relationship with the Father that I know is secure in what Christ did, not my own efforts. Let’s find our joy in that today!