A few days ago we were looking at the incredible mystery that ‘Christ is in me’, and that I can spread the fragrance of Christ in all I do as I let His life flow through my gifting and talents, skills and anointing. I can touch people with the Life of Christ as it flows through me. That river of living water that Jesus told us would flow from those who believe in Him. John 7:38. Sometimes however instead of seeing the new life of Jesus flowing from my innermost being I can, like Paul described in Romans 7, get very caught up in trying to keep the ‘old me’ under control.
Not only can we be conscious of ‘the old’ in our brothers and sisters but we can also be more than conscious of ‘the old man’ in our own lives. I can then find myself battling with what Jesus has already dealt with and ‘asking God for what is already mine ‘in Christ’. Paul concludes at the end of Romans 7 that the way out of this dilemma is Jesus. He writes ‘who will rescue me from the body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ And there it is again, the power of thanksgiving to appropriate all that Christ has achieved for us on the cross.
Paul continues, ‘therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death’. Romans 8:1,2. It’s the same principle as the law of aerodynamics that overrules the law of gravity and enables planes to fly through the air at incredible heights. The power of ‘Christ in me’ is far greater than my old nature, providing I open the throttle and set myself in motion.
I think that the spiritual equivalent of ‘opening the throttle’ is yet again, thanksgiving. If I can start by thanking Jesus for what is already mine because He lives in me, I will be expressing my faith in this truth and my gratitude to Him. I will also be focussing on the good fruit that I want to see flowing from my ‘new man’. In addition, as I thank the Lord for His new life within me I will find that I am less and less aware of the old, i.e. the thoughts and behaviours that I don’t want to see in my life. These I need to give less attention to as I reckon myself ‘dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus’. Romans 6:11.
An example of this would be; I am feeling anxious, worried or just agitated and I want God to give me ‘the peace of God that transcends all understanding’. Philippians 4:7. If I try to battle my fears, aware only of my lack of peace, they just seem to get stronger and bigger. This is because whatever I dwell on gets magnified in my mind and it becomes a stronger reality. If however I thank God that Jesus, the Prince of Peace lives within by His Spirit, and thank Jesus that His death has paid the price to set me free from my old tendency to worry, then I will start to fly and, pushing the analogy to its limits, I will gain height and therefore more of God’s perspective on my situation. This may be directly to me heart, or through a scripture, or a word of promise.
Sometimes when we ask the Lord for something like ‘more peace’ in our lives, we find that the exact opposite seems to happen. Lots of things seem to militate against us feeling at all peaceful. Then we can feel discouraged and defeated. But what if the Lord is answering our prayer by allowing us to have lots of opportunity to practice drawing on the peace of God that is already within because of His indwelling presence? And what if by thanking Him and thereby reckoning on His life welling up within, the fruit of peace comes into our minds and hearts?
It is important that we are able to practice living from our ‘new man in Christ’. So the Lord will sometimes not allow ‘finding peace’ to be about the circumstances changing, because He wants that supernatural peace to be from Him and not because He has given us a worry free environment, which is virtually impossible in the world anyway. In this way we become ‘more than conquerors through Him who loved us’, not by being lifted out of our worrying circumstances but ‘in all these things’ because it’s about His life in us. Romans 8:37.
I learnt this lesson when I was a fairly young Christian, without understanding the theology of it at all. Psalm 34 and an awareness that the Lord was gradually setting me free from my many fears, led me to make the connection between ‘I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (verse 1) and I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears’. (verse 4). Now I see that it is the answer to many things, not just fear and worry.