Have you ever stopped to consider what it means to be redeemed? To have been dead in sin and yet now made alive in the Spirit? To have felt the choke of the dead man, marring the very image in which we were created, suddenly released? It’s like diving deep…deeper than you’ve ever been and realizing you are almost out of air—you turn toward the air, you swim, you struggle, you hold it in with lungs bursting and burning reminding you—beating in your brain like a hammer on a nail the reminder—WE NEED AIR!—and then suddenly you break the horizon and air…precious air…fills the lungs and all is well. That’s a picture of what it means to be redeemed except we were so dead we didn’t know we needed to breathe. We were just grasping at something—anything—to fill the void and yet chocking on the surrounding…knowing that there was a void, but unable to fill it with the only Thing…the only One who could satistfy.
Why is it that we who were once dead and yet now alive still dabble in the tombs? Why do we who were once breathless—still try to go to the realm of the airless vacuum of sin? Why do we make such stupid and pitiful excuses?
I’m just a man,
I’m still a sinner,
I can’t help it…
Just a man? I am created in the very image of God and that image has been renewed and I am in the process of being glorified into His presence! Still a sinner? There is nothing within me, as a Redeemed Man, that forces me to sin except my own weak desires—desires that Lewis described as a child who’d rather make mud puddles in the slum because he can’t image what is meant by a holiday at the sea…I’ve been redeemed, I’ve been transformed, I’ve been brought to life, I’ve been…and I have the audacity to say, “I can’t help it.”
Here I am stuck between the judicial reality of Romans 6 and the glorious heights of Romans 8 supported by the bottomless depth of Romans 9-11. Here I am stuck in the reality of Romans 7,
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me…”
Here I am crying out with Paul,
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
I’ve walked the Green Mile… a dead man walking…but Jesus took my place and all that was left for me was freedom…glorious freedom. Freedom to breathe new air—celestial air. Freedom to step on new ground—holy ground. Freedom to take a new hand—the hand of God. Freedom to walk in a new spirit—the Spirit of God. Freedom to be what I was destined to be from before the foundation of this very world that bears the curse of my sin…your sin…our sin.
Here I am sitting in a chair, which is sitting on the carpet, which is sitting on a concrete pad, which is connected to a ball of rock spinning at over 67,000 miles and hour and I’m not dizzy! That lack of dizziness doesn’t surprise me as much as the fact that I’m not daily dizzied by the grace of such a Grand God. I’m surprised that I’m not daily drunk on the dregs of mercy to which God has displayed to me. How can I, again in the words of CS Lewis, consider “the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards in the Gospels” and go on like a half-hearted creature “fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered me?” Why am I so easily pleased with the things of the world?
When will I learn to be like Joshua and stay in the tent? When will stop being like Peter who in the presence of the Transfigured Jesus spoke and to be reminded that Jesus was the Father’s Son and that he should listen to Him? When will I take my eyes off the thirty pieces of silver and look to the Savior who hung on the cross so that I might be relieved of my love of money? When will I…when will I find all my pleasure in Him and glory in Him and make much of Him and Him alone?
I know that day will come…I know that I will be in His presence and that eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, and hearts have not imagined with the Lord has in store for those who love Him. I know that this is true, but I want to know what Tozer called the “Blessedness of Possessing Nothing.” I want to be like my forefathers who lived acknowledging that they were strangers on the earth, who sought a homeland…a better country…a heavenly home that God has prepared for them…for me…for you.
I want to live a life here on earth knowing that all the glorious things I see here are just shadows of what is to come. I don’t want to get caught up in the shadows when the reality is before me!
How about you?