Who Are You Looking At?
And what do you see? ... Oh, that word “behold!” To look intently by faith and to continue in what is seen by faith! Seeing becomes doing. Again, what do you see?
John 1:29b. “... Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
James 1:25. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” NKJV
In perusing this verse in its context while considering the perpetual grace versus works debates, something caught my attention which I’d not previously noticed. The one who is a hearer but not a doer is beholding only his own natural face in a mirror. In doing so he is essentially contemplating only himself, his own “natural powers” as a means of overcoming sin and his sinful nature. He worships his fallen will and his duplicitous heart. (:23,24)
Consequently, after he considers himself to be his own god in the making, he walks away just as he was - dependent on himself to do what he determines is right in his own eyes, and even to be saved. He has fallen into the error of being the captain of his own soul, and proudly sings, “I did it my way!”
Because his gaze, his beholding, is fixed on himself, he is in adoration of the wrong god, who will fail and fail and fail, ever being in despair or the denial of it. As he lives by the light of his own standards (even his own perceived biblical standards) if he succeeds, he is filled with pride. As a result, he ever rides upon the pendulum which swings back and forth between despair and pride. He is thus never blessed with the Highest Good. He cannot receive anything from the Lord, as he is blind to his own devices. The devices of one dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1)
Our gaze, as a people of God, instead must be intently in adoration - beholding - of Christ Himself alone, upon the “perfect law of liberty” found only, perhaps paradoxically, in His Gospel.
According to Galatians 2:20, that “law” says that I’ve been crucified with Christ. In a sense, therefore, it is no longer I who live but it is Christ Who lives in me; and the life that I now live while in this world, in the flesh, in a physical body, I live by the faith in (or “of” per KJV) the Son of God, Who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (My paraphrase.)
The perfect law of liberty says that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is Christ Who lives in me. Not only that, but according to Ephesians 2:6, I have been made alive and raised up with Him. Not only that, but according to Colossians 3:1-5, I have also been seated with Him in the heavenly places!
Therefore I am a new creature, for (2 Corinthians 5:17) “... if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.” Therefore, I do good works because in Christ Jesus, I have been made God’s new good work - a new creature! Because Christ has made me new, I can do - in the power of His Holy Spirit!
I no longer keep looking at the old Adam self (who has died in Christ), to produce through my “struggle” anything that pleases God. That self can’t do anything, let alone please God, any more than a literally dead corpse can walk!
The perfect law of liberty presents a very different view for us, a “faith perspective”, a “seeing” from within. That mirror shows someone who - because of, in, by, and for Christ - has died and been made alive as a new creature. As a new creature, I walk by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Seriously - “It IS finished!” I live out from that ground of being.
Consequently the mirror of the perfect Law of Liberty, once I’ve been given the eyes to see it - the eyes of faith - reveals a completely different view - that of Christ in me, living out from me, and of me living within and out from Him! I have been set free from the law of sin and death by this arrangement! Glory to God!
And as I can see, so I can be - in His strength and authority.
Incidentally, we’re made one in Holy Baptism and given the “earnest” of the Holy Spirit through Chrismation. Thus Christ commands Baptism through His Church. In this we’re to be and become the vessels by which what is in heaven becomes a reality on earth. That’s what life in Christ, in his body the Church, is about.
There is nothing for it but that I surrender to an entirely new reality in Him, as one who is joined as one with my Lord Jesus Christ. When this “view” is revealed to the heart, struggle ends, in one sense - that of the flesh trying to
overcome flesh - an exercise in futility. The old man, one realizes, is dead and gone. The devil is defeated. Sin and death have been put to death.
But in “putting on Christ”, through faith, we’re armed to the teeth, and fit for the conflict! We go forth with our King of kings, in a victory that already is!
Out of the waters of Baptism, a new creature arises, perceiving himself as having been made one with Christ, seated with Him - victorious over and high above every principality, power, and name that is named! This is how we walk in the Spirit, by faith - according to what God has made of us in Jesus Christ. It is not by might or by power of “dead self” effort, but by the Holy Spirit that this becomes real.
All glory be to Him, in Whom we live, move, and have our being. He has made this newness of life not only a possibility, but a living reality through His incarnation, passion, and resurrection - which we are to comprehend and apprehend by a living faith. Let it be so. Amen!
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