Sometimes doing the right thing can be hard. We know we shouldn’t act out in anger or rev our engine and cut someone off. But we tend to do it anyway. But as Christians, weren’t we “saved” from these things when we accepted Christ’s saving grace? Why do we keep messing up? Paul dealt with this question in his letter to the Romans: “So I find this law at work; Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:21-23 NIV).
As fallen human beings, it can feel like we’re living life between a rock and a hard place. By nature, we’re slaves to sin, seemingly drawn back into sin again and again and again. And even as redeemed Christians it can feel like we’re living in an unending cycle. Theologian Karl Barth offers some validation, clarity and hope about this confusing state: “Both the old man of yesterday and the new man of tomorrow… is still the old and yet already the new, in complete and utter antithesis… the vita christiana [the life of the Christian] in conversion is the event, the act, the history, in which at one and the same time man is still wholly the old man and already wholly the new – so powerful in the sin by which he is determined from behind, and so powerful the grace by which he is determined from before… the old and the new man are simultaneously present.”
In Christ we have been placed into a whole new situation so that the “old man” or humanity is passing away. One day we will see it no more. Christ has made it so that our true selves are not determined by the past, but by our future in him. So while we live between the times, between the old and the new, we live in hope of Christ’s already accomplished victory. Our transformation and sanctification are in his hand, and even our ultimate glorification. For Christ himself is our wisdom about God, our justification, our sanctification and our glorification as his children. As John Calvin used to say, our whole salvation is complete in him. And we can count on him for everything we need, from beginning to end. We live in hope each and every day for ourselves and for all because God is faithful.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.