Thanks to all who sent birthday greetings and postings on the internet and also all the cards etc. It was very nice. Birthdays are chances to think about who we are and to do some personal assessment and yet that is dangerous territory. One of the problems with human beings is that we tend to think about ourselves too much. Self awareness is a peculiar curse.
I have been revited to the coverage of the awful tradgedy in the Phillippines and the incredible destruction and find myself thinking more about what I would do in a situation like that than being concerned about the poor people that are stuggling and dying. My wanting to help becomes more an excercise in self awareness than an unselfconscious desire to help. It is like the old saying that we often hear when someone helps us and we want to pay them and they say, “no I just hope someone would help me if I were ever in the same problem”. So we are being merciful because we want someone to be merciful to us in the future. That is really the depravity of the human heart on full display.
Every year that passes I have running through my head more and more Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ; 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 gave Himself for me, and Luther’s exposition of that marvelous passage. We need to think about motives, actions, desires, the “furious pressure of penalities”, the scurrying to do good and to be seen to do good, and all of this is sin even when we are doing good. Someday by God’s grace we may get to a point where we do thr right thing without interjecting ourselves into the equation – like an apple tree that produces apples because that is what it is, not because ti thought about it or chose to do it. Here is Luther –
Paul explains what constitutes true Christian righteousness. True Christian righteousness is the righteousness of Christ who lives in us. We must look away from our own person. Christ and my conscience must become one, so that I can see nothing else but Christ crucified and raised from the dead for me. If I keep on looking at myself, I am gone.
If we lose sight of Christ and begin to consider our past, we simply go to pieces. We must turn our eyes to the brazen serpent, Christ crucified, and believe with all our heart that He is our righteousness and our life. For Christ, on whom our eyes are fixed, in whom we live, who lives in us, is Lord over Law, sin, death, and all evil.
“Thus I live,” the Apostle starts out. But presently he corrects himself, saying, “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” He is the form of my perfection. He embellishes my faith.
Since Christ is now living in me, He abolishes the Law, condemns sin, and destroys death in me. These foes vanish in His presence. Christ abiding in me drives out every evil. This union with Christ delivers me from the demands of the Law, and separates me from my sinful self. As long as I abide in Christ, nothing can hurt me.
Christ domiciling in me, the old Adam has to stay outside and remain subject to the Law. Think what grace, righteousness, life, peace, and salvation there is in me, thanks to that inseparable conjunction between Christ and me through faith!
Paul has a peculiar style, a celestial way of speaking. “I live,” he says, “I live not; I am dead, I am not dead; I am a sinner, I am not a sinner; I have the Law, I have no Law.” When we look at ourselves we find plenty of sin. But when we look at Christ, we have no sin. Whenever we separate the person of Christ from our own person, we live under the Law and not in Christ; we are condemned by the Law, dead before God.
Faith connects you so intimately with Christ, that He and you become as it were one person. As such you may boldly say: “I am now one with Christ. Therefore Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine.” On the other hand, Christ may say: “I am that big sinner. His sins and his death are mine, because he is joined to me, and I to him.”
Whenever remission of sins is freely proclaimed, people misinterpret it according to Romans 3:8, “Let us do evil, that good may come.” As soon as people hear that we are not justified by the Law, they reason maliciously: “Why, then let us reject the Law. If grace abounds, where sin abounds, let us abound in sin, that grace may all the more abound.” People who reason thus are reckless. They make sport of the Scriptures and slander the sayings of the Holy Ghost.
However, there are others who are not malicious, only weak, who may take offense when told that Law and good works are unnecessary for salvation. These must be instructed as to why good works do not justify, and from what motives good works must be done. Good works are not the cause, but the fruit of righteousness. When we have become righteous, then first are we able and willing to do good. The tree makes the apple; the apple does not make the tree.