“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV)
At Christmas we celebrate Jesus coming to earth but at Easter we remember what He came to earth for: to set us free. Why do we need Easter? Because of sin. In archery, sin means “to miss the mark”. In life, we know that there is a mark (there’s right and then there’s wrong) and that we have all missed the mark. Sin is like the hook hidden in a fisherman’s bait: it tastes good but then it traps you.
Sin is the rejection of God that leads us away from His good and perfect intention for us. The consequences of sin are separation from God in this life and ultimately eternal separation from God after death. The problem of sin is not a mere blemish on an otherwise healthy whole. It is utterly corrupting and like a patient with a life-threatening disease, we have nothing in our power to be a remedy. There is no good deed or religious ritual that can ever completely fix the sin problem because a relationship with a just, holy, righteous God requires a perfect Godly life.
Christ accomplished for us what we could not do for ourselves. He lived a perfect, Godly life and exchanged His life for ours. He died our death in our place (1 Peter 3:18). On the cross, Jesus took on the God-forsaken state we would have experienced (Mark 15:34). If we try to make ourselves “good enough for God” we are just dishonouring the work that Jesus already did for us (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Jesus did everything to provide a solution for us and gives it freely as a gift. We need to first acknowledge that we have a problem and that we need God. Then Jesus can take our place and in His great exchange we are justified: “just as if I’d never…”. Justification is finished but unwrapping what Jesus has given us and integrating it into our lives is the process of sanctification. Jesus doesn’t leave us to do this alone: He sent us the Holy Spirit.
This new way of life is made possible through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). When old habits pull you back towards old sins, the Holy Spirit reminds us that we were not just given freedom but a new identity in Christ. God has exchanged our powerless state with the Spirit-empowered life. Just like dirt encrusted on an old jar, if you soak [in the Holy Spirit], the dirt becomes easier to remove.
It is as we demonstrate that the spirit of love is among us, through the way we sacrificially love each other, we show the world we are followers of Jesus.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- Was there a time in the past when you thought you could earn your way to heaven? What changed?
- Is there an old habit that needs some soaking in the Holy Spirit? Consider how Jesus would handle it, in your place.
- When we are set free and given a new identity in Christ, we need to keep walking with Him as we unpack His gift more and more. What will be your next step on the journey?
- Have you downloaded the e-book “This changes everything”? Who can you give it to this week, and invite to Easter services?