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Jamie Johnson
2 March 2014

Any Longer

NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on March 2, 2014.

We enjoy coffee in our home. On weekends, I make it even more special. I make cappuccinos with frothed milk and cinnamon on top. I use the same type of grounds for both my weekday coffees as I do with the weekend cappuccinos. One recent weekend, however, as I prepared to make a cappuccino, my wife said, "We have flavored coffee." That was my wife's way of gently reminding me of the flavored coffees I had bought her for Christmas and indicating that she would like a flavored cappuccino. It reminded me of an illustration.

I was going through my routine using the same grounds. I was changing it up a little bit by adding some frothed milk and cinnamon on the weekend, but my raw material was just the same. I was living in my routine. My wife's suggestion indicated that there was something more, something we had, and something I had forgotten. How often are we like that as Christians? We go through our routine, put in the same raw material and plug along, forgetting that we have something better, more specifically Someone better. If you are in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit. Life can be more. Instead of the day-to-day routine, it can be about Him and about what He wants of you, not just getting by.

Now, one may think I am reading a lot into coffee. It's not about the coffee, really. It's okay to use the same coffee all the time. However, consider the metaphor with how it can apply to our spiritual lives as Christians. How often are our spiritual blessings -- the something more, the something we have -- just simply forgotten as we plug along through life? We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Ephesians 1:3 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (NASB). And notice that the blessings are in Christ. They are not in and of ourselves. They are from Him and in Him. You must be in Christ to have such blessing. That is not our motivation to be in Christ, but is a result of being in Christ. Also notice that these are spiritual blessings. This does not mean a new car, perfect health and lots of money as the erroneous "prosperity Gospel" claims. Certainly God could bless us with such things, but not necessarily. The spiritual blessing may include perseverance and patience during a trial or the strength to bear up under it. Physical blessings are temporary. Spiritual blessings are eternal. Remember 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NASB): "while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Despite the fact that we who are in Christ have every spiritual blessing, we often live as if we don't have such blessings. Paul asks why we should live in that way any longer. Galatians 2:15-19 (NASB) says the following:

We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.

Paul is adamant that we not return to the old way. To the Galatians, he writes, "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you...?" (Galatians 3:1a, NASB). Paul reminds us that we are not saved by the Law, but by faith in Jesus. So, why do we try to earn our way to God by our works since Jesus has completed the work? Why do we turn to the Law? Some err more on this side in the form of legalism. However, if we think ill of ourselves when we mess up instead of running to God or if we think we cannot serve because we are imperfect, then we stand guilty of using our own works as the benchmark instead of trusting God's forgiveness in Christ.

Others, instead of legalism, err on lawlessness, using grace as a license to sin. Paul challenges this in Romans 6 (NASB):

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

How are you living? Are you living as a slave to sin or to righteousness? Are you in Christ? If so, are you living as one being in Him? Are you trusting man more than Him? Are you trusting yourself more than Him? Are you believing in your own worries of what you think may come instead of Him? Are you living in the patterns that you once lived before you knew Christ? May we not do it any longer! I have been talking to myself here as well.

If in Christ, let us not forget what He has done for us - His life for ours, His perfect works for our filthy-ragged attempts at truly good works, His righteousness for our sins. Do you trust what He has done for you? Do you trust Him? May we stop living as condemned slaves! May we live as children of the King! There is something more than the routine. There is something more than the struggles. There is Jesus. May we not live in anything else or anyone else any longer. God help us!

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