Flawless in Christ

This is a reprise of an earlier message. Family emergencies and illness kept us from meeting this week. May the Lord bless you this week and always.

Flawless in Christ

Galatians 2: 19 – 20

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me.”

                                                                          Galatians 2:19–20 (NASB95)

There is hardly a day go by when I get online to check email and there is a news story from Twitter or Instagram about a photo some celebrity has posted. It doesn’t matter if it is a vacation picture or a shopping trip or a day in, if a celebrity has posted a picture of themselves it has to be news…right? Then there are those stories about a housewife who has posted a picture post-baby and the internet has gone crazy. It might be a workout picture or just baby and mom cuddling; something has triggered a response and again the internet goes crazy.

Interestingly enough, most of the news stories have to do with body shaming, which is surprising when it is a celebrity. We seem to have become a society obsessed with the body and finding the perfect body to hold up as the standard for men and women to try and attain. Some go as far as using some kind of app or program to make their picture look better than it truly is. Why this obsession with perfection? Why do people have such a hard time accepting themselves as they are and being comfortable in their own skin?

Sadly, we Christians are not immune to this desire for our self-image to be better than it truly might be. We come to church on Sunday morning hurting, broken, depressed, lonely, sad and heartbroken; yet when someone asks, we “put on a brave face” and say we are fine. Why? We are a community of broken people who have found healing through One who has experienced all that we are going through. When Jesus came as a human child. God put on flesh that He might know and understand how we feel on our worst day. His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary not only defeated death and sin, but for those found in Him we have been made Flawless in Christ.

Paul reminds the church in Galatia they have died to the Law that they might live to God. Having been crucified with Christ, it is no longer they who live but Christ who lives in them. The life they live in the flesh is lived by faith, having been made Flawless in Christ who gave His life for them.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the old covenant but having been made Flawless in Christ, we live our lives in obedience to God. The old self has died, it is no longer us who lives, but Christ within us who lives. Our lives are now lived by faith in God’s Son who gave His life for us.

As followers of Jesus Christ, how are believers made Flawless in Christ?

Believers are made Flawless in Christ by dying to the Law and by dying to self.

1). Believers are made Flawless in Christ by dying with Christ.

As believers we are justified by living for God. The believer lives for God by dying to the law. The law shows people that they are a sinner and that they come ever so short of perfection and righteousness. The law shows people that they are to be punished and separated from the society of God forever. The law shows people that they stand no chance of ever being accepted by Godnot if they have to approach God by keeping the law. We just cannot keep the lawnot continually, not consistentlyfor we are always coming short of the law and of God’s glory. The law slays people; it kills them and condemns them to death. The only hope people ever have of being acceptable to God is to die to the lawsomehow, some way to be delivered out from under the lawto be removed so far away from the law that it has no bearing upon him. How can people do this? By turning away from the law and finding Someone who can stir God to count them righteous and to accept them. The first thing that a people must do in order to live for God is to die to the law and to self-righteous works.

The believer lives for God by being crucified with Christ. How in the world can a person be crucified with Christ when Christ died so many centuries ago? Scripture tells us how. When a person believes that Jesus Christ died for themthat Jesus Christ bore the punishment of sin for themGod takes that person’s faith and counts their faith as them having died in Christ; He counts their faith as their identification with Christ in death; He counts their faith as having already been punished for sin in the death of Christ. As Scripture says, the person, the old self is “crucified with Christ.” God counts or credits the believer as having already diedas having died with Christ.

The law itself could not save because no one can keep its perfect standards. The law thus cannot earn God’s approval; instead, it offers only failure and death. So, what is its usefulness? The law was a necessary instrument to show people the ultimate futility of trying to live up to God’s standard on their own. But that very hopelessness created by the law can have a positive impact if it leads a person to the true hope, Christ himself. Christ took upon himself that death penalty—the death we deserved for being lawbreakers.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB95) Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Gone are the old fleshly desires of self-fulfillment and self-promotion to be replaced by putting the needs of others first. Gone are the bad habits that enslaved us to be replaced with new good habits that set us free to serve the Risen Lord. Gone is the old mind shaped and trained by the world to “look out for number one” renewed with the new mind set on kingdom principles of caring and concern for others. Gone are the old worldly thoughts of evil and sin to be replaced with new kingdom thoughts of love and grace. 

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus 4:22-24, concerning the old self writing, “…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” The thought here is that of changing clothes. You take off the old garments and replace them with freshly pressed, crisp, white, robes of righteousness through Jesus Christ. Instead, Paul was a “new person” because, he explained, Christ lives in me. In other words, Paul had turned over his life to Christ.

Each of the phrases is a crucial aspect of the sequence of salvation: We relinquish our old life and turn to Christ for his life. The self-centered self now becomes the Christ-centered self. It is as if Paul was saying, “My old life, my old goals and plans, even old relationships were nailed to the cross with Christ. Now I have a new life because Christ came in and filled the empty spaces all those old pursuits could not fill. Now he lives in me and is the focus of my life.” To accomplish this, there must be a radical cleansing of our old selfish nature. But there must also be a turning to the empowering of Christ. Just as in repentance we turn away from sin and toward Christ, we must turn from the self in the flesh to the self-hidden in Christ. In Him, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and your dying to self, you are made Flawless!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Is there a part of your life that you have not crucified with Christ? What is holding you back?

Are there aspects of your former life that you continue to cling to as a new creation in Christ?

What attitudes or actions of the old self do you continue to fight against today?

Believers are made Flawless in Christ by dying to the Law and by dying to self.

2). Believers are made Flawless in Christ by trusting in God’s grace.

The believer lives for God by allowing Christ to live His life through their body. The believer is “crucified with Christ,” yet they are still living upon earth. However, they are not to be the one in charge of their life. By faith they have died with Christ; therefore, they are to live with Christ. They are to allow Christ to live in and through their body, to control and to be in charge of their life. The believer is to be so merged into Christ that it is as though Christ is walking upon the earth in their body. The believer is to be so much in union and fellowship with Christ that it is as though they are but a branch drawing their very life and nourishment from Christ.

The believer lives for God by trusting the grace of God, that is, by trusting Jesus Christ who is God’s righteousness. Paul states he does not nullify or set aside the grace of God. If a man sets aside the grace of God and seeks righteousness by the law, then Christ died in vain. The person who preaches that a man can be good enoughthat he can work enough and keep enough lawto become righteous and acceptable to God voids and does away with the love and grace of God; makes the death of Christ empty and meaningless. The only way a man can live for God is by trusting the grace and love of God, that is, by trusting the death of Jesus Christ for His righteousness.

Paul no longer focused his life on trying to please God by obeying laws; instead, with Christ in him, I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Believers live in their bodies that are prone to sin while they remain on earth. But with Christ in charge, they are new creations, living life by faith. This faith is an attitude, a lifestyle.

The world says your ugliness does not fit with us; grace says you are the image bearing creation of God – you are Flawless in Christ. The world says telling people they have sinned is hate speech and we will silence you; grace says the word of truth lives inside of you to speak the truth gently and in love – you are Flawless in Christ. The world says this is who I am – take me or leave me; grace says God accepts you as you are, but He loves you enough to never leave you as you are – you are Flawless in Christ. The world says you are too far gone for God to save you; grace says God loves you and will never leave you or forget you – you are Flawless in Christ. The world says your addiction, your disease, your doubt and your shame will always be yours, never to be taken, never to find healing; grace says you are a new creation in Christ, the old has gone and the new has come – you are Flawless in Christ.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Is Christ in charge of ALL areas of your life today?

Are you still trying to “work” your way to being good enough for God?

Where, in your life, do you need help in trusting Christ?

Believers are made Flawless in Christ by dying to the Law and by dying to self.

It is time that we, as Christians, learn who we are in Christ. The letter to the Galatians has one theme and one theme only, the supremacy of Christ. In Christ we are a new creation. Gone are the old fleshly desires of self-fulfillment and self-promotion; gone are the bad habits that enslaved us; gone is the old mind shaped and trained by the world to “look out for number one”; gone are the old worldly thoughts of evil and sin. You are Flawless in Christ.  It doesn’t matter that the world says your ugliness does not fit with us; it doesn’t matter that the world says telling people they have sinned is hate speech and we will silence you; it doesn’t matter that the world says this is who I am – take me or leave me; it doesn’t matter the world says you are too far gone for God to save you; it doesn’t matter that the world says your addiction, your disease, your doubt and your shame will always be yours, never to be taken, never to find healing. You are Flawless in Christ!

God has moved in the lives of people in countless ways. For those who were once slaves to addiction, disease, depression, loneliness, sadness and broken heartedness they have discovered who they are in Christ. No longer do they wear the chains of slavery but now they wear a robe of righteousness found only in Christ. That same power exists here today, ready for you to call upon; ready to set you free from whatever might be keeping you captive. I pray that you will learn who you are and that you have been made Flawless in Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

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