From the upcoming book ‘Freedom in Heaven’ …
Guilt and shame rob Christians from the joy of the Lord. What is this ‘joy of the Lord’ and how is it obtained?
Let me illustrate by describing three different people …
You’re a prisoner in jail for what you consider a minor offense. In your mind, you do not deserve prison time. One day, you see an avenue of escape and so you take it. After a daring dash, you find yourself wondering the city streets. Are you free? The answer of course is ‘no’. You’re a fugitive and will spend the rest of your life looking back over your shoulder.
You’re an ex-con who has paid your debt to society. By spending time in jail, lost is the life you could have lead. Lost are the opportunities that could have led to prosperity. Lost is a future free of the verdict of a convicted criminal. Yes, you may now live your life outside of prison, but are you free? The answer of course is ‘no’. No matter how hard you try to shake it, as a human being who you are a summation of your past. The stigma of being an ‘ex-con’ will follow you for the rest of your life.
You’ve been arrested for a minor offense. You stand before the judge awaiting your sentence. You are stunned to hear the sentence is death. Off you must go immediately to the death chamber. Are you free? The surprising answer is ‘yes’. Your life guilt and shame is coming to an end. Everything will soon be over.
For you see, the ‘joy of the Lord’ means a clean slate. It awaits us after death as we are raised again to new life. The key to the ‘joy of the Lord’ is death. It is not God’s plan to rehabilitate any of us. It is His plan to kill us.
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin, shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
As a Christian, you are not a sinner who somehow escaped punishment. You are not an ex-con who continues with the stigma of past sins. You are a person who (like Jesus) has lived and is living a sinless life. How do I live such a life? Every morning, ‘reckon yourself to be dead’. The mistakes made yesterday were by a person who died last night. That person no longer exists. His errors, his faults, his shortcomings died with him. By faith in the power of God, know that this is true. Walk into the new day as a new person.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
The Holy Spirit who dwells in you, not only will raise you up anew, He also causes our nature to be dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness. I’ve talked a lot in this book about the ministry of Jesus Christ. I believe it is a ministry that needs to be better understood and gloriously praised. What I am now highlighting is the incredible ministry of Holy Spirit. It is the ministry of raising the dead. It is the ministry of giving new life.