The sermon preached at my church this Sunday contained within it a profound statement—a statement communicating a truth about the gospel that has been ringing in my heart for the past four months. The statement was something along the lines of (I’m paraphrasing): The good news we have in Jesus is not only that our sins have been forgiven, but that we have been changed—transformed—by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. We have not merely gained in Jesus a get-out-of-hell free card—but because of God’s mercy toward us through the Cross, we have been born again. We are no longer sons and daughters of Adam, enslaved by sinful natures and destined for destruction. We are now, through the person and work of Christ, sons and daughters of God; destined for blessing and pleasure in God forever. We are His children not just in a ”status” sense, but the very essence of who and what we are has been changed. Our Father, by His Spirit, has given us new, God-inlcined natures and wills. We have, in the most real sense of the word, been changed.
Now it is obviously true that we do not see the fullness of God’s transformational work in us completed in the here and now (1 John 3:2). We have a new nature… but we also have our old nature. (Dual-natured? Not sure if that’s an accurate theological term, but let’s go with it). We still live in broken bodies and experience the realities of sinful temptation, sickness and physical death (side note: the “prosperity gospel” is a bunch of bogus that completely denies the reality we live in). The full transformation that Jesus purchased for us won’t be actualized in totality until He returns to execute judgement and restore the world. At that time we will be completely changed (1 Corinthians 15:52)–eradicated of the brokenness of sin once and for all and clothed with immortality. So the fullness of the promises of the gospel lie ahead of us in the permanent, new world to come. But… to deny that great progression in godliness is not probable—or even possible—in this life is absurdity in light of what we see in the Bible. We aren’t told to just accept our low levels of godliness and Christ-likeness as an unavoidable reality due to our dwelling in the weakness of sinful flesh. Rather, we are very blatantly urged by the Scriptures to pursue transformation/sanctification.
“…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”- 1 Timothy 6:11
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..”- Romans 12:2
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”- 1 Peter 1:14-16
Because of God’s gifting us with His Spirit, we have real hope for real change. Change that goes way beyond becoming attracted to the opposite sex or reorienting your sexuality (which I’m sure everyone thought this blog was going to be about!). We have hope of becoming like Christ. We have real reason to hope for increased victory over evil deeds, real reason to hope for loving others with increased sincerity and godliness, real reason to hope for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus with increased passion and frequency. We have at our very fingertips— well, actually inside of us—a Person of the Trinity. God Himself. The same Spirit that filled Jesus has been given to us for the purpose of putting off the flesh, growing in godliness, and making known the gospel to all peoples. Although we still walk in this fallen, mortal body (dual natured-ness), He promises to give us life (Romans 8: 11)—may we really have faith in this promise!
My prayer every day is that God would not leave me where I am. I am so thankful that He has given me His Son, forgiven me of my endless record of sins and and already produced so much change in my life. But I know that He wants to lead me into further depths of Christ-likeness—in all areas of my life. And I believe He wants that for every one who He sent His Son to die for. May we truly believe the gospel, see it as being the ultimate good news that it is, and grab hold of it with all of our hearts. May we seek God to fill us with His Spirit and change us from one degree to the next— and really believe that He will delight in doing that for us.