Scripture: Exodus 31:1-6, John 21:15-22, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 3:18
God’s work in us sets our spirits free to be the renewed creation we were meant to be. Salvation is both the beginning and end of Jesus’ work in us. It is the end because when we fully accept Christ as our Lord, and our hearts and lives demonstrate this truth, we have full assurance of eternal life. Yet salvation is the beginning of Jesus’ work in us because the promise of eternal life sets our spirits free to taste the first-fruits of that eternal life here on earth. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. This comes from the Lord who is the spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
His promise to us is not an abstract assurance of eternal life later, while we live with the same limitations, struggles, and hurt that we did before we knew Jesus. Instead, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” A transformed life in Jesus is one in which we are constantly allowing His spirit to set our own spirit free to experience newness of life.
Even as Christians, we can feel trapped under our emotions, trapped under desires we feel like we can’t control. We can feel trapped under our sin, trapped by the limitations of our circumstances, trapped by what the world says we need to do, be, and desire. But there is a place in the spirit set aside for us where imagination, dreams, and goodness are full and perfect, a place where God’s presence is full. Our inheritance in Jesus is that we become familiar with this place in His spirit. Our inheritance is not that we would limp through life once we have received salvation, but that we would be Kings, Queens, and more than conquerors (Romans 8:31-37).
God put it on my heart this week that in this season the Enemy may have caused many of you to feel trapped or plateaued in your faith journey, alone, or doubting your “progress” in Christ. The Enemy loves to attack our identity, but no longer! Jesus came to set the captives free, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to release the prisoners. This is not a one time event, but sanctification is an ongoing process of freedom and release from the things which defined your “old man.” We can feel safe in this process because we have the assurance that our new man is already here.
Why does living from this “new man” feel inaccessible to us? Scripture teaches that our new man is both something that we are, and something that we must continually put on (Ephesians 4:22-24). We “put on” the new man by believing we are who God says we are, not who the world, our parents, our friends, our school, or our career says we are. We abide in Christ and do the things which please Him. We declare the truth of scripture over ourselves and become more familiar with God’s voice, the voice of truth.
It is so important that we let God set our spirits free to experience the first-fruits of our true, renewed identity, because He has work for you to do. And in the Kingdom, there is no faking it. Our function stems from our identity, not the other way around. We all have talents, abilities, dreams, things that we are good at, and things that give us life. The amazing thing is that God does not call us to die to these things. Christianity does not ask us to crucify our personalities. Instead, He asks us to submit ourselves fully to Him, willing to give up and use all those things for the sake of the Kingdom.
Take the example of Peter the apostle. We see throughout the New Testament that Peter always wanted to be a leader–always wanted to be the one closest to Jesus, respected, and fully trusted. The desire to want to lead was good, but its root stemmed from a selfish place. As we see Peter walking with Jesus, He is transformed to understand what true leadership is. After Jesus’ resurrection, we see that desire to lead transformed as Jesus commissions Him on the beach to shepherd His church as a true servant leader willing to die for his flock. In the same way, God has a purpose for you as a leader, an artist, a student, a doctor, a musician, a teacher, a lawyer, a minister, etc. When we begin to live out of our new man, allowing God to set our spirits free, He also renews our dreams, imagination, and our purposes so that we can live out these callings on our lives. Someday, we will see the Heavenly Kingdom full of these empowered new men working for the purpose God has placed on their lives. Beautifully, we get to experience and see the first-fruits of those callings now as God sets our spirits free to soar!