We see from 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 that we need to understand
Part of our inheritance is to have & enjoy favour. Part of our ministry is to act as Christ's ambassadors by drawing others to receive God's wonderful gift of forgiveness, & reconciliation & to share in His marvellous grace, which is His unmerited favour.
Those of us who are the children of God know that we don't deserve to be called righteous, but the wonderful fact is that God does call us righteous because He sees us through the cross of Jesus. The full price for our salvation has been paid. We are no longer trying to work out our own righteousness by trying to earn what God has freely given us.
The Father wants all of His Children to learn who they really are in Christ Jesus, what they have in Him, & what they can be in Him. If we have this basic knowledge of our righteousness, we will begin to transform ourselves into the image that God has for us.
The world has given us a mostly negative image of ourselves, few of us escape childhood without damage to our self-esteem, perceptions, & personalities. The image we form is far below the image that God has of us. To Him we are valuable, precious, & worthy of such great love that He gave His Son for us. Jesus became sin so we could become righteous.
God sees us as happy, healthy, & prosperous in all we do. He says we can do all things that are in line with His will because we have a covenant with Him & He is our powerful, loving heavenly Father.
Sadly, many of us never realise that this is God's image of us & never come to share that image of ourselves. Today I can see myself this way, but there was a time when I felt the lowest of the low. Every time I went out I would crawl back into my shell & stay there, not knowing that I should not have felt this way.
I went to a Methodist Sunday School & a Catholic school, I was confused about the practices, doctrines, & beliefs, I didn't know if they lined up with Scripture. Constant repentance & confessionals kept me aware that I was a sinner & totally unworthy of God's love. The Nuns never failed to tell me that I had to work extra hard to please Him just because I wasn't a Catholic.
Right from childhood all the way through to adulthood I felt insignificant, full of guilt & conscious of sin. I knew nothing about the grace of God & His abundant mercy for my mistakes. I felt condemned even when I was doing what was right.
I was dressed in rags of righteousness instead of Jesus' robes of righteousness. Like blind Bartimaeus, who had the sense to cast aside his dirty beggarly garb to rise from the dust when Jesus touched his life, I too should have been able to cast of my dirty garments of sin when Jesus touched my life. Unfortunately I didn't know this was possible.
My problem was I had no idea of the Scriptures, the only time I recall hearing the Bible read was at Sunday School. I loved to hear the Scriptures read aloud, I never had my own Bible till later that year my Grandfather asked what I would like for Christmas, I answered a Bible.
In the years before I was saved I never heard that I needed to be born again, I thought if I loved God that was enough to save me, & if my good deeds out~weighed my sins then I would get to heaven. I was ignorant of the basic facts on how to be saved.
Rom 10:13 Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
John 3:6-7 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[ must be born again.’
We can't be saved unless we hear that we need to be saved. When we hear the uncompressed Word, it creates faith, to enable us to break free from our reasoning doubts & unbelief so that we can accept Jesus as our Lord & Savour. unless we hear of our need to be born again, we may blindly continue in our traditions, ceremonies & religious church-going, ignorant of the peace, joy & righteous that come with true salvation.
If we need to hear the Word of God to be saved, we also need to hear it, to grow in it as a new creation. Although receiving the Lord was a most wonderful experience of my life, my ignorance of God's Word & His true character greatly hindered my walk with Him.
I was a Christian but a fearful one, even though I loved God & knew I was heaven bound sadly I was living a defeated life. I would pray the Lord's prayer as I had all my life it was quiet plain that I was missing out on the reality of that prayer of the part that says Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Earth to me had become the equivalent to hell on earth, I wasn't happy & thought that life could only get worse. Surely heaven had to be better than this!
I had no idea how to overcome the adversity I encountered in my life as a Christian. Just as I had been ignorant of what God's word said about becoming His child, so I was ignorant of what it said about how he saw me-the basic reality that I was a spirit who lived in a body & had a soul. Like God Himself, I was a three in one, I could only be whole when all three parts of my being were in harmony. The day I discovered 1Thess 5:23 was turning point for me. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
Paul is saying that his converts might be wholly sanctified, that is in their whole being-spirit soul & body-may be yielded to the will of God. The power for this accomplishment must come from the God of peace Himself. Peace means spiritual prosperity in the broadest sense.
You can personal this Scripture, by saying I am a spirit, I live in a body, & I have a soul. Keep saying it out aloud to establish the reality of this new truth in your mind so that you can grasp hold of its full significance. Some assume they are are body & have a soul not realising that the soul & the spirit are not the same thing at all. In Hebrews 4:12 it tells us the Word of God can actually divide between our spirit & soul.
AS we establish our hearts in the new spiritual identity through the Word of God, trying to do what is right comes not so much as an act of willpower but from strengthening our walk with God. God's Word shows us shows us that overcoming any evil, whether it be sickness, grief, depression, lack, worry, or sin is far easier if we build our self into His strength rather than
our own. We can choke all our own cares, worries, & anxieties through the Word. What a wonderful promise this from God. Phil 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Here the Apostle Paul is teaching us to pray with thanksgiving in every circumstance. If we cannot offer our current prayer requests from the foundation of a life that is currently filled with thanksgiving, we will not get a favourable response. The Word does not instruct us to pray with complaining; it says to pray with thanksgiving.
It was through God's Word that I learnt to speak back to all the problems that were always speaking to me. Every time thoughts of defeat rose up in me, for example You're never going to make it, you'll never amount to much-I would say NO! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I would say it again & again till those thoughts were dead & buried. When you first accept Jesus as Lord, the fruit of the Spirit comes into your life. You may say for example that you don't have any love, but when you received Jesus the love of God was shed abroad in your heart (Rom 5:5). You might not be walking in that love but it is there. & you can develop it. It takes time for the fruit to grow of course. When you plant seeds in the ground to grow veggies, it takes time to see the fullness of the fruit. But the seeds are there even when the fruit is not obvious. To cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, you start by speaking. When you begin to say what God says about you-what He says about the love He has placed in your heart, for example an image will form of that fruit in your life. You will be able to picture it. Then you will be able to believe it then it will grow. My biggest problem was self condemnation, we learn from the Apostle Paul that the only way he could escape from the condemnation of his past
was to look forward every day to his new life in Christ. Phil 3:13-14 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
The devil wants for us to concentrate on how far we have fallen, rather then how far we have risen. Satan wants us to focus on our past instead of out future & how far we still have to go, rather than how far we have come. He wants us to think of how many times we fail, rather than how many times we succeed. But God wants us to focus on our strengths rather than our weaknesses, our victories & not our losses, our joys not our problems. These verse tell us God wants us press forward & respond to His upward call & forget about what lies behind us. Pay attention to what you focus on & magnify the works of the Lord. Do not believe the lies of the devil.
The key to condemnation we find in 2 Corin 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Every time self condemnation came to me I would say No yesterday's gone. Old things have passed away, all things have become new. I am a new creature in Christ. I would repeat it over & over again until the word of God choked the weed & drove it out of my life. When you think & speak that way to things that hold you captive, the wonderful day comes when you look for them & say "where are they? where they ever part of me? The same is true of the things that people have done to us, many people wallow in grief & injustices of the past. They love going back over the old. They embrace it; it's part of their life. The past maybe sad or tragic, but it is worse to stay imprisoned by it. We can try to live our past in our present, but it will steal our wonderful future from us. The past is finished. Let God avenge you & bring to justice those who have in any way done evil to you. If you will let it go you will be free of it, & all of the unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, hurt, rejection, jealousy, & grief will not poison your life.
Thankfully most of us desire to go on with the new. There is not much behind us that is worth hanging on to. Good memories are fine, but sad & tragic memories are best forgotten. The only way to truly forget the past is to fully immerse ourselves in God's Word & see the wonderful future He has ahead for every one of us. It is not how we begin that counts but how we finish.
The ability to truly put off the old life is a wonderful thing. Most of us have suffered to some degree through the world of darkness, despair, & pain. To look forward with expectancy & total faith in God, knowing our life can be worth living & living well, brings joy, peace & contentment that the world knows nothing about.
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. This verse tells that God has a plan for each of us, a plan that should give us great hope for our future. It is our destiny. But that plan is a possibility not a positively. If someone prophesies over us wonderful things in the name of the Lord, what they say may express the heart, will & desire of God for us. But that does not mean that it is going to happen just as it is prophesied. This is because it cannot & will not come to pass if we refuse to cooperate with God or to stray away from His will. God does have a plan for our lives, but we have to participate in that plan for it to come true, God is not likely to do anything in our lives without our cooperation.
We need to cooperate with God every single day of our lives in order for our potential to be developed. Every day we ought to learn something. Every day we ought to grow. Every day we ought to discover something. Every day we ought to be a bit further along than we were the day before. We should be life long learners. We must understand that no other human being on the face of the earth can develop our potential for us. we must each discover our own God given gifts & talents, & what we are truly capable of, then put ourselves to the test of developing those gifts, talents, & capabilities to their fullest extent. God has a plan for each of us, it is a good plan, an uncommon plan, a great plan; it is not an average or mediocre plan. I encourage you to seek that plan & cooperate with God so that it will be wonderfully fulfilled in your life.
Acknowledgements Dr Margaret Court.