Have you ever watched a sermon on TV? As the preacher is preaching, the camera pans around occasionally looking at the audience. It is so interesting to observe the many types of people–old, young, every kind of nationality, and every kind of dress, hairstyle, hair color, and expression. I often wonder if they are related in any way, friends, married, and that kind of thing. I often think of God looking down on this earth observing each of us. Every person, no matter who they are–rich, poor, old, young, all over this world–are seen by Him. So, do we think these people are all sinless since they attend church? No, we are all sinners. Romans 3:23 explains, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There are believers, seekers, and skeptics in most Christian congregations. Each person has come to church for his or her own reason, but this does not mean they have all decided to accept Christ as Savior.
In our church and everyday life, I am blessed as I observe the changed lives of those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. They recognize that they are sinners who need Jesus as their Rescuer and Redeemer. They have made the step of faith by confessing their sins and accepting the gift of salvation through Christ, as explained in these verses:
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21, NIV). If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13, NIV)
How is this possible? What has God provided to us through Christ? It is explained in 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God. Our right relationship with God is based upon what Christ did for us on the cross. Christ Jesus died as our substitute when He took our place on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
So what makes the difference in these believers’ lives? Why are they so hungry to grow as Christians to study and apply the Word of God? Why do they desire to serve the Lord and share His love with others? Paul explains how your life changes as you walk with the help of the Holy Spirit. Some refer to this as living the “exchanged life.” Paul explains this process at work in his own life in Galatians 2:20, NKJV, 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. I love the way this is explained in The Message translation, verses 19-21:
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
As you walk by faith in the Son of God and you learn more about Him, you get to know Him. Jesus expressed His desire for us in John 17:3, where He prayed, This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. As you get to know Him, your life begins to change, you are renewed in the spirit of your mind and become a new man, created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Stephen J. Cole, a commentator with Bible.org, further explains,
Before, you stood outside, not understanding the things of God. But now, because of God’s mercy and kindness toward you in Christ, you are “in Him” for time and eternity. To be taught in Him is a lifelong process that begins at the moment of salvation, but never ends. Since Christ is the center of all of Scripture, to be taught in Him is to grow to know the glory of Christ in His person, His offices, and His work on our behalf. Someday when we see Him as He is, we will be instantly changed to be like Him (1 John 3:2). Meanwhile, we must engage in the process of being taught in Him.
So as you consider all those people we observed in the congregation earlier, praise God that Christ died for all of us. The invitation is open to all who would accept Jesus as their savior. When we become a Christian, we become a child of God, adopted into His family. John 1:12-13 explains, But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (ERV). What a glorious thing!
Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for sending Christ Jesus who died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Corinthians5:15). Thank you for this wonderful gift of eternal life, never being separated from You, through Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sin. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for sending your Spirit to renew us and teach us as we live this life as a child of God. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.
Christ had no sin but God made him become sin (an offering for sin) so that in Christ we could be right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21, ERV).