Not Just a Label

bar code

I love the New Living Translation’s version of 1 Cor. 1:30. “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” The translators took some liberty to explain where other versions use more historically traditional phrases: Christ has become for us “righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” But come on, you need to sift through a lexicon and bible dictionary to unpack those words. The NLT has done a great job of that for the reader, helping us to gain a fuller view of what God has done for us in Christ. And I enjoy viewing this work through the lens of the self-check-out line at the grocery store: items with bar-codes on the label, swiped over a scanner (BLOOP!) and the screen tells you it is BBQ sauce.

Christ has made us right with God.

This is a legal verdict from heaven. We have been declared “not guilty” by reason of forgiveness. The sentence, the judgment is “righteous.” Like a bar-code on a bottle of BBQ sauce, no matter how many times you run that label over the scanner – BLOOP – it’ll say BBQ sauce. We’ve been stamped as righteous, as forgiven, as right with God. And I am thankful that no matter how many times I am scanned – BLOOP – it says “righteous, forgiven, and right with God.” There is no higher court; His verdict cannot be vacated. It is finished.

Christ has made us pure and holy

Here’s where the metaphor gets tricky. You see, I could switch the label on the BBQ sauce with the mayonnaise jar. And, if I run it over the scanner (BLOOP), it’ll claim to be mayonnaise. Nothing changed inside, but just the label. Too many believers live like all that’s occurred to them is that they’ve been stamped with a bar code. They’re forgiven; they’re right with God; they’re thankful. But from there they have to just kind of slug it out. They believe that they are stuck with the same old stuff inside the bottle. Unless, of course, they have the exceptional will-power and proper accountability groups to help them try harder to live right. Rest assured, they’re comforted, “someday you’ll be free from that mortal shell and then you’ll really be righteous.”

Wait, what? Are we serious? We’re forgiven for today, but stuck with the junk in our trunk until we die? How could we place more confidence in our casket than in Christ’s cross? Why should we put more hope in our death than his? Paul tells us that Christ has become for us sanctification, expressed by the NLT that Christ has “made us pure and holy.” Friends, that means far more than just forgiveness. If any person be in Christ they are a new creation—the old is gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). If you are in Christ, He has made you pure; He has made you holy. It was a passive experience. He did it; you became it. You see, it’s not just a bar-code. He didn’t just change your label. He changed you. He made you pure and holy. You aren’t living in a cosmic struggle between how you’re labeled and what you’re made of. You are made new. This is truth-in-labeling, friends.

It is imperative that we embrace and believe this, and do so deeply. It is impossible to consistently live in a manner inconsistent with what you believe. If you believe you’re an addict, a pervert, a scoundrel, a glutton, weak… if you genuinely believe that you’re a sinner then you will sin by faith (and view it as normal but still ask for forgiveness). You might protest the notion that you’ve been made pure and holy because, after all, you ain’t actin’ like it. You might have beat yourself up time and again. You may have made a host of pledges and promises to try harder. It probably hasn’t worked. His work, however, will work.  Believe that Christ has made you pure and holy. And never stop.  As you believe deeply, what you believe  will affect and influence your thoughts, your attitudes, and your actions. Even in failure, give thanks for His work in you. He has made you pure and holy. No action on your part will ever be superior to His action on the cross.

Christ has freed us from sin

Redemption. Christ has freed us. From what? From sin. From sin’s power, pollution and punishment. From any obligation to a sinful nature (Romans 8:12). We have been released and empowered, graced, to live freely under the influence and enabling of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 22, 25). This is the purpose of Christ’s work. It is for freedom that Christ has set you free (Gal. 5:1). You are free to love, to serve, to rejoice. You are free to enjoy partnership with Christ and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. You are free to do good works, to be filled with the Spirit, to give thanks, to carry hope and life to a world of hurt. You are free to dream, to become, and to create. You are free to live, really live. None of it in order to try to become righteous, all of it because you already are. This isn’t about a new label, it’s about a whole new life (BLOOP).

 

 

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