The Power of Jesus Christ In Us
As we watch the agitation and unfolding schemes of wicked men (Isa. 57:20-21), we wonder what the Lord is doing and what the future holds. Why is the Lord, who commands all men and nations to repent (Acts 17:31), giving his enemies a longer leash to do greater evil? “Evil men and seducers go from bad to worse, deceived and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). As a judgment from the Lord, evil becomes a little more self-conscious, a little bolder and more strident, a little more craze, like the evil one, who knows he has but a short time (Rev. 12:12).
But we who know the Lord have reason for courage and hope, an immovable foundation for peace, and joyful impetus to speak the liberating gospel of sovereign grace with joy and boldness. Consider the (1) sacrifice of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, (2) that we are crucified and raised with him, and (3) that we are therefore able in union with him to overcome the sins and temptations that overwhelm unbelievers and fill them with fear at the portentous events that are happening.
As for the sacrifice of our great High Priest, remember that he “offered himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14). What makes his sacrifice so significant and powerful to redeem and to cleanse? He was God and man in two natures, unified in one person. He, this God-man, offered up himself to God (Heb. 7:27). It was not as man alone or as God alone that he did this, but as our unified Mediator. He is the living priest, who even while he died as the Lamb of God, also lived so that he could offer himself without spot to God, in the heavenly sanctuary. He is the priest who slaughtered himself, on the altar of his worthiness and obedience, and entered the heavenly sanctuary to offer his blood in place of ours.
By this one sacrifice, offered as the sacrificed and yet living Priest, he obtained our eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12). He did not save and secure us simply by dying. He did not save us as a dead man but as living Priest. At no time were his natures separated, or he would have ceased to be our Mediator. His person would have ceased to exist, which it did not. Each nature functioned according to itself, and he was a unified, living person. Even in the grave, he was united to his divine nature, so that dying he lived, and by dying he outlived and overcame death. His death was real, penal, and vicarious; he also lived while dying to overcome death, to spoil death, and to save us to the uttermost. No one is like him. No one else is able to save us.
To have confidence in these times to face and fight the enemy before us even while we are joyful and love our enemies, we must understand that we are union with our glorious Redeemer. He has inexhaustible light and strength to overcome the worst and build his church and kingdom in man’s deepest darkness. In him, we have no reason to fear death – and therefore no reason to fear anything or anyone else. Jesus Christ has delivered us from him who had the power of death, the devil (Heb. 2:14). Satan would have been happy for Jesus Christ as a mere man to have died. But when the Son of God incarnate, the God-man died, in our place, willingly, entering the heavenly sanctuary and offering himself without spot to God, satisfying the full judgment of God by his worthy suffering, all the use that the devil made of death was overturned in the lives of those who believe in Jesus. We have nothing to fear, for we have no penalty left to pay. We can look ungodly men and their threats in the eye, and unflinchingly resolve to obey God, for we are in union with the incarnate Son of God. Death cannot harm us, for he has killed it and its fear in our lives. Believers in Jesus Christ never die, for we shall never experience death as God’s wrath (John 11:26). For us, death is the Father’s last and light chastening, his fiery chariot to bring us into the arms of our Redeemer.
All of this is true because we are crucified and raised with Jesus Christ. Every regenerate person has gone through the first resurrection. When the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart to repent and believe, we are united to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection, as Paul teaches in Romans 6, so that what his death and resurrection meant for him, they mean for all who are in union with him. Our Lord died to the power of sin (Rom. 6:10); he voluntarily gave himself into the power of death by becoming sin for us. He became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) to suffer for our sins, be judged for our sins, and to kill sin and therefore death. By his death he not only delivered us from the power of death but he destroyed the devil’s power over us (Heb. 2:14). We are one with Jesus Christ in his death, in his victory over sin, in his victory over the devil. He is our Head, and what is true of him is true of all who are united to him. As he destroyed the works of the devil, so raised with him and clothed with his armor, we can resist the devil, and he must flee. He is wreaking havoc in our land and invading our churches because he is not being resisted from a position of union with the crucified and raised Mediator. In Christ, Satan cannot prevail. If he is prevailing, it is because we are not living in practical, believing union with his destroyer, Jesus Christ.
And we are raised with him. Our Lord was raised by the glory of the Father (Rom. 6:4). He was raised because he killed death by his death. He judged sin by his death. He satisfied divine justice by his death. He was raised as God’s public declaration – It is complete, finished. And we who believe in him are now justified (Rom. 4:25). All our sins are cleansed, our penalty paid in full, the Judge satisfied, our penal death died by our Surety, the substitute who suffered in our place. This is all included in what the apostle meant by “that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Now, since we are crucified with him, by faith we lay hold of his death to sin as the door to life. We go to him and say, “Lord here are my sins, my depravity; by faith I lay them upon you, upon your cross, for you were dead but are alive forevermore. I cannot kill my sins, but you have killed sin and death and the devil. Forgive and cleanse me; kill my sins by your power.” Faith sees Christ’s death and embraces his death as the door to life. Like him, we die to live. We live by dying to sin, killing it in the power of Christ (Col. 3:4-5), by living in the shadow of Calvary and by living in the light of the open tomb.
The power of Christ’s death and resurrection is at work in us. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Eph. 1:19-20). It is God’s power at work in us. What power? Not to escape life’s problems but to face them in union with Christ. First, we are dead to the power of sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11). The world has no power to resist depravity and the devil. Do not forget this when you think about current events and wonder at the depravity and lies spewing around us. Satan has his way with the children of darkness, and only Jesus Christ can make dead men children of the light. Let us pray and labor to this end. Let us live by fellowship with the living Lord. “Yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Second, we can resist and overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil because Christ Jesus killed sin and destroyed Satan’s fearful tyranny. He saves us now to the uttermost, completely (Heb. 7:25). You have power, child of God, or better, Jesus exercises his strength in you to resist sin (Rom. 6:12). You must therefore resist it in your members, killing sin by the power of Jesus’ word and Spirit. Walk in his Spirit, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:17). Present yourself to God, seeing your life as not your own but as Christ’s (1 Cor. 6:19), and your daily course and passion as pleasing God (Rom. 6:13).
Do not be afraid of what is happening in the world. Fear God’s purpose, not man’s conspiracies (Isa. 8:12-13). Tremble before his gospel of Satan-killing through the crucified-living Mediator, his beloved Son. Draw closer to Jesus Christ. Live more in his fellowship. He has all the power and wisdom we need to live faithfully in these times, to resist evil, and to serve God faithfully. These are actually his times. He has ordained them, brought them, and is working through them to expose his people’s sin and compromise with the world. Therefore put on Christ and be clothed with him (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27). He is the victor over sin and death. In him, we shall overcome the world. It is inevitable, for he declared, “It is finished.” Now, he is clothed with power to subdue all things to himself (Phil. 3:21). Confess your sins, seek his face, and live in his fellowship, and his power will be at work in you.