Guys, I’m struggling with something lately… It feels like I’m hearing it everywhere. Know what it is?
It’s the sound of fellow believers speaking as if what happened at the cross and the empty tomb didn’t actually change the relationship between God and man.
I’ve listened to people take principles from the Old Testament and apply them directly to us today… as if our relationship with God is the same as it was for the people back then. I’ve seen Christians beg for the presence of God, like He’s far from where we are. But do we not believe the cross changed everything? And if we’re Christians who are living like it didn’t, (not to be harsh, but…) what do we think Jesus’s life was/is even for?
Let’s look at what the Word says about the difference Jesus made:
Difference in the way we relate to God
Stick with me because this is huge: There is no separation between us and God. It’s important that we remember in the Old Testament (and even during the life of Christ), sin kept God & people separate. The people were one with their sin. They carried it with them, covered in it. God is holy, and that never changes. Since they were one with their sin, He couldn’t be near to them.
But DO YOU KNOW what JESUS DID? He took every single sin that we would ever commit, put it within His body, and actually allowed Himself to be separate from the Father so that we would NEVER have to. Remember “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus separated us from our sin so that we could instead be one with God.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:13 (NKJV)
Shift in our identity
The difference in the way we related to God also meant a shift in our identity. We went from slaves of sin to sons and daughters of the most epic King there ever was and ever will be.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God.
I like to use the Amplified version there to clarify the meaning. As believers, we are no longer slaves to sin who have to fear the judgment of God. Instead we’re His children. We can cry out “Abba” as we speak to Him.
The word Abba is used by small children in a loving way, much like we would say Daddy. We use it in familiarity and comfort. He’s not some big scary man in the sky with a gavel and whip, ready to beat us. He’s our loving Father, guiding us into truth and directing our steps (when we allow Him) to steer us away from the things that would harm us.
The Spirit of God IN us, not just upon/with us
This is the one I hear the most. People say, “Spirit of God, fall on us! We need Your presence!” But here’s what God says:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV)
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
You see, not only are we the home of the Holy Spirit, but He is sealed to us. He’s not going anywhere, whether we always “feel” Him or not.
We read about people before the cross who had the Spirit of God upon them. We read about the anointing of God falling on them. But it was all external. None of it happened inside of the person. Our anointing is something that bubbles up from the wells of God’s Spirit within us. His presence doesn’t just fall upon us. We carry Him with us wherever we go.
Empowerment to live a new life
All of this adds up to give us something that people used to only be able to hope for: transformation. We’re one with God, He lives in us and isn’t going anywhere, we aren’t slaves to sin anymore, and our identity is nothing short of supernatural royalty. God has given us the grace that empowers us to throw off our old way of doing things and rest under His ways. Like Jesus, we can be tempted, but we have the power to turn our eyes toward God and say, “that’s not who I am anymore. I have a Father who gave me a new identity and the grace to overcome.”
...to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV)
So What About the Old Testament?
You may be asking, is all of this her way of saying that the Old Testament shouldn’t matter to us anymore?
Not at all. It still has so much value. But as one of my favorite pastors always says, we have to run those verses through the cross. What does that mean? When reading passages from before the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have to ask, does this method of relating to God still apply to us? Or did the cross change it?
In the OT we can also see glimpses of what was to come. We see certain individuals who God relates to in the same way He now relates to us. How was this able to happen?
- We see Abraham. He didn’t always do the “right” thing. I mean, the guy was willing to pimp out his wife to another man and let him believe she was his sister. Yet, God calls him righteous because of his faith.
- We see David. Man, he had his issues–lust and murder topping the list. Yet, God calls him a man after His own heart.
- We see Gideon. He was fearful and backward. Yet, God spoke into him a new identity, calling him a “mighty man of valor.”
All of these instances point toward what God had always planned. This is His true heart–union with and transformation of His people. What we have now is what the people of ancient times were always waiting for. Let’s not waste it by trying to relate to God as if He’s far off. He tore the veil and brought us near because that’s the way He wanted it. Now will we let that affect our everyday lives?
Until next time,
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