What are you looking forward to this week? Each year, as Easter approaches, our lives become full of activity and with the awakening of the earth, there is an awakening in our hearts as well.
When we celebrate the new life we have in Jesus Christ, we must see that in order for there to be life, there must first have been a death. Without that death, we would have no forgiveness, no release from the penalty of our sin, and no freedom from the bondage which we experience when sin controls our hearts.
The resurrection of Christ from the grave in triumphant glory secures our hope and raises us up with Him to new life. It is that victorious life which we so heartily proclaim at Easter and which encourages us to press on and live in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving.
But is that really true? Do we allow the truth of Easter– the power and victory of the resurrection, the forgiveness and acceptance of the atonement, and the freedom from the grip of sin– to shape our lives and mold our thinking? Have we become so familiar with this, the most significant event in all of human history, that we have lost our ability to bow in awe before the Lord?
The wonder of what the Lord has done cannot be explained, but it can be experienced by every believer. We know that “…if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). What are these old things which have passed away and what new things have come to you now that you are in Christ?
What Passed Away?
The Bible speaks often about the need to “put off” the old and “put on” the new. What is it that the Lord Jesus died to remove from us? He wants to strip us of all that is old and then clothe us with His own garments. What do we know has passed away when we belong to Jesus Christ?
The Punishment for Our Sin. The greatest news of all in the gospel is that Jesus Christ died for our sin and took away the punishment which we deserved. Because He died in our place, we have been forgiven and the charges against us have been executed on Him
The Reign of Sin. Next we find that He not only freed us from the punishment we deserved, but He also conquered sin so that it no longer has dominion over us. We are no longer powerless to sin. “Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
The Rule of Self. The difficulty we face more than any other is considering our old nature dead given our natural inclination to rule our own lives. We have been given the privilege through Christ and His death and resurrection to put off even the old self and its selfish clamoring to direct its own way rather than surrendering that control to Christ.
We must realize that when Christ died and was resurrected for us, He made it possible for us to have these and many other aspects of our lives pass away so that new things can come. For after all, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
What New Has Come?
Are you living as a new creature or allowing the old to cling to you and hold you back? What new things do you see in your life that would not be there if Christ had not given you resurrection life in His name? For too many of us, there is too little of the new life in Christ and too much of the old.
As we celebrate Easter, what new things can you give thanks for?
A New Attitude. When we come to Christ, He gives us His mind and challenges us to have the same attitude toward life He demonstrated. Our view of life must reflect His as we see all things with the eyes of the Lord.
A New Identity. We are no longer to see ourselves as we once were, slaves to old ways of thinking and doing, but as newly recognized citizens of the royal family, heirs with Christ, the King of kings. Our identification with His death also identifies us with His resurrection life and establishes that we are a “people for His own possession…chosen from the foundation of the world.”
A New Authority. Subjected as we once were to the powers and authorities of this world, what a tremendous joy floods our hearts when we realize that we have been granted authority over all things when we stand in the name of Jesus Christ! As ambassadors for Christ, we live as aliens in a land not our own, but with the authority to act upon His desires without any fear to inhibit us.
On we could go in listing all that is new–a new character, a new purpose, a new future, and so on. But when we come to celebrate the resurrection this year, may we be more sensitive to the true nature of these new beginnings. It is not the awakening of the earth that brings our joy, but the awakening of our hearts to the risen Savior which overwhelms us with gratitude and fills us with praise.
May you enjoy the celebration of your new life in Christ with a glorious Easter!
Today we celebrate the life of my Dad at a funeral service. Some people have come to view funerals as an indulgence from another era, a woeful ceremony that prolongs the grief and makes it public. However, for those whose hope is in Jesus Christ, the funeral becomes a place of comfort and a time for giving thanks to the Lord for His grace. Only dishonesty would prompt us to speak of the deceased as if they were paragons of unstained virtue, but we can speak well of them without fear when the truth of God’s grace is proclaimed–that they were sinners like the rest, but when they were found by the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, forgiveness and new life made all things new. Such is the case today as I get to represent the family and speak of a wonderful man who shaped our lives in ways we probably still do not understand. But my true focus will be on the loving heavenly Father who saved my earthly father and gave him the eternal life he now enjoys in full.
My Dad loved southern gospel music. Today I wanted to share a video by The Martins, a group my Dad probably never heard of but one which would have thrilled him by the sweet harmonies proclaiming in song the trustworthiness of a Savior who leads His people through life into the glory of His eternal presence.