Self Effort Or “It Is Finished?”
Point for meditation: 1 John 3:2,3 (from NASB, emphases mine). “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
There are only two churches that exist on earth - the church of self effort and the church of the finished work of Jesus Christ. That’s it. Let me explain why I believe this is so.
In reviewing this passage, I was once again reminded that, first of all, since now we are God’s children, our imperfections do not diminish His love for us any more than the imperfections of our own children disturb or anger us. It is the fact that our hope fixed on the vision of Christ’s perfection and ourself in Him (“faith”) becomes the means of our growing up into Christ likeness. The “vision” to be grasped is that of beholding ourself in Him - as co-crucified, dead, buried, and raised up from spiritual death, and seated with Him in the Heavenly Places.
This work - bringing us to maturity, to Christ likeness - is His, and our life is hidden with Christ in God. It is not by means of self effort (works of the flesh) that we are sanctified (set apart and made manifestly holy). but by surrender to the work that God has already made of us in Christ that we are saved (salvaged for a new life).
When we “see” / perceive this with the eyes of faith, then we no longer practice sin (which means to live a lie, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness). If we are practitioners of sin or a deceitful lifestyle, our gaze is on ourself rather than the Son of Man lifted up on the cross. This was “enacted” by Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness - all who gazed upon it for healing from the venom of the serpent bite - would be healed. Nothing more was required of them. This is what we need to see - the power of the works of the devil / serpent crucified in Christ, which we behold by faith.
This was shown to me a number of years ago and is the “vision”, the revelation, that permitted me to cease striving with something Christ already dealt with - my sin condition - through His incarnation and His passion. Oddly, the key is less struggling and striving, and simply surrendering to what is in Christ now.
What we “see” is now, and what we see is what shall be!
If all I see is a mountain of sin with which I must struggle, then my eyes are on myself and my own efforts against “mission impossible,” or on hiding this from myself by cover ups and hypocrisy. In either case, my gaze is always fixated on me and my effort, not on the Lamb of God Who has already taken away the sin of the world and Who has finished the job! It is by this that He was glorified, according to the opening lines of His great prayer in John 17.
It is through this completed work of the Cross - that metaphysical moment on Golgotha where He was slain from the foundation of the world, yet spanning all time and eternity - that I am saved and transformed into His likeness more and more. Sin has been "done in" through the cross!
This cannot be explained very well to anyone who has not perceived it for himself - this vision (eyes of faith) of God’s absolute amazing grace in Christ Jesus. Yet if there is anything that I might offer to the table of the Ekklesia, it would be for all who name His Name to receive this vision, this view and perspective, in his innermost being.
I’m convinced that this is the “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (see context of Ephesians 1: 15-23) for which Paul always interceded for the Body of Christ, and for which we must heartily make supplication now! For, “where there is no vision (revelation), the people are unrestrained…”, according to Proverbs 29:18. (Or “the people perish,” KJV.)
To this John the Baptist points as he says, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” This is the view which puts an end to both sin and the futility of self effort against it! Herein is the end of all struggle and striving - in simple surrender of self and all its efforts to combat what amounts to a ghost that never seems to go away, against which flesh and self effort can never win. But the victory is now in Christ.
When we Christians perceive and receive what is in Christ, right here and right now, we are able to let go and cease striving, and let God be God Who is mighty to save, Who has already raised us up in Christ Jesus and made us living new creations in Him. Then this reality becomes effectual in our life.
May it be so now and forever. Soli Deo Gloria! Amen!
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