Do you get it? Being a Christian, that is–do you get what it’s all about? The sad truth is that so many don’t. We might have heard some Bible stories when we were kids, we might hear occasional references to God or Jesus, or hear about the Christian Right. But we don’t really understand Christianity. And even if we do read the Bible and attend church, a lot of times we can still lose sight of the forest because of the trees.
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
So, what is the purpose of Christianity–because almost everything has a purpose. The purpose of Christianity, of Jesus dying, is to save us from our sins according to today’s verse (which is what the angel told Joseph about Jesus even before He was born). But what does that mean? Many of us see this as a free pass out of hell–as simply avoiding accountability for our actions. But that wasn’t God’s goal. God the Father did not send His Son Jesus to suffer excruciating pain and die on the cross just for us to continue our lives the way we would have lived them anyway without Him–only not get punished at the end. No. But if that’s not it–if that’s not all–what else is there?
The goal of Christianity–God’s purpose for us–is holiness. Granted, the only holiness that can and will save us from hell is Jesus Christ’s holiness imputed–attributed–to us when we come to Him in faith. Nothing else can suffice, and we will cling to Him with our dying breath. But what about our life–our behavior–after we understand and trust Christ’s finished work on the cross for our salvation? Will it–can it, rightfully–be the same as it was before? The answer is no.
Trusting Christ means submitting myself to His goals for me, and that involves not only my avoiding eternal punishment because I am made right–I am justified with God–through Jesus, but also Him making me holier in practice as His Spirit in me motivates me to avoid sin and do the “good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:20) Granted, I cannot take credit for this “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) But it is something I should be seeing in increasing degrees in my life nonetheless, if I have accepted Christ.
And how do we become sanctified? How does this happen–what is the process? The way this happens is by us remaining (staying) in Jesus Christ, the Word of God. John 1:1, 14 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is the physical revelation of God’s Word; the Bible is the written revelation of God’s Word. Praying to the Father, Jesus said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” He also instructs us, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4) In practice, we are sanctified–made more perfect, more holy–by reading the Bible and doing what God says.
So, as you look at yourself and your life, are you making it a point to read at least a little–maybe a chapter or so, or even several verses if that’s all you can do now–of the Bible every day? Do you find yourself actually doing what it says–are you allowing God to make you into the person He wants you to be, to gradually sanctify you and work the sinful habits and practices out of your life? We will not be completely free from sin until He resurrects us in the next life–until we are glorified in Him–but we must not loose sight of the truth that Jesus came to save us from our sins. 1) He came to justify us before God–to give us forgiveness and right standing before the Father, 2) to created a genuinely holier lifestyle in us as we are gradually sanctified by reading and doing His Word, and ultimately, 3) to glorify us–give us a life completely free from any vestiges of sin in eternity with Him. So, let’s “Pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
Thank you that You justify me through the finished work of Christ on the cross; sanctify me through Your Word which is truth; and glorify me someday with You in eternity! Amen.