You Failed, But You’re Not A Failure.

29 Oct

“Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as less because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God that depends on faith.”
-Philippians 3:7-9

These are beautiful, encouraging words from the apostle Paul.  He shows just how amazing the Gospel is and the motivating force behind his ministry to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.

The Great Exchange

Paul truly believed that Jesus Christ was of surpassing worth.  Why?  Because to be found in Him was to be given the righteousness of God.  There is a theological term that describes this:  Imputed Righteousness.  What it means is that when we put our faith in Christ, everything He accomplished in His life, death and resurrection is transfered to us.  We receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life and reconciliation with God.  However, we also receive the righteousness of Christ.  In living a perfect life, Jesus was the only man who could truly be considered righteous by His own doing.  And when we trust in and submit ourselves to Him, we receive that righteousness.  This means God views us as righteous, and having fulfilled the law.

Thus, that is where we get the phrase, “The Great Exchange.”  Martin Luther put it well when he wrote:

“Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness.  Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him.  And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband…and [can] say, ‘If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.”  

Christ took all of our sin, wickedness and stored up punishment upon Himself at the cross, and we, by virtue of grace through faith, receive His perfect righteousness.

True Freedom 

And where does that leave us? How then shall we live?  We shall live in freedom, and live with the greatest of all motivations for living to the glory of God.  That is, as we seek to obey all that Christ has commanded and try to love God and love our neighbors, whether we fail or succeed, we are still forgiven, still seen as righteous before God because we are IN CHRIST.  This enables us to continually pursue holiness, as well as the glory of God in our obedience to love, share the Gospel and make disciples of all nations.  This truth frees us to take risks in ministry, to do things a new way, to ask tough questions and to give tough answers.

What a joy it is to know that we are in Christ, and that, because we are in Christ, we are righteous sons and daughters of the King. We can fail, but we are no failures, and that enables us to try, try again.  Glory to God and His amazing grace!

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