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Good human qualities or the virtues of Christ?

What happens when we reach our limits as human beings?

Salvation – a “rescue operation”

It is very good and necessary to think about what the word “salvation” entails. It is the same as “rescue.” Salvation in Jesus Christ is a “rescue operation.” As humans, we find ourselves in a hopeless situation because of sinSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More. We are in need, not just of a little help – no, we must be saved from the stranglehold of sin and our self-will. This is precisely what Jesus wants to do with us, and nobody else is able to do it. He has the power to forgive our sins and to help us in the moment of temptation so that we can overcome. And He will transform us into His own image. The gospel does not give us hope for improvement, but for transformationThis is the process of sanctification, in which we our sinful human nature is gradually exchanged for divine nature when we in obedience to God’s will deny and put to death the sinful lusts in our flesh. (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 1:3-4)... More.

My own righteousness

We are to proclaim the virtues of Christ, but these should not be confused with good human qualities. There is a big difference between us as people. Some people are born with an exceptional strength of character, while others are weak and yielding. Some are very selfish while others have an obliging and sacrificing nature. But God is not unfair. It is not the case that those born with “good” human inclinations have greater value in His eyes. No, everyone needs salvation. Our good human traits are very limited. For example, we may exhibit some patience or some kindness, but if conditions become too demanding, our innate willingness and courtesy will soon end.

There is a huge difference between good human qualities and the virtues of Christ. We can exhibit high morals, be kind and good and live a good life, but if we are truthful and honest, we quickly discover that our best deeds are not pure. For example, self-admiration may be hiding behind our helpfulness, and while doing something good for others, we may be judging them a little, or we have hidden demands, etc. We can do a lot that looks good, but we are absolutely unable to reflect the eternal kingdom of God and radiate the glory that is in God.

The good we do by virtue of our own efforts can be summed up under the term “my own righteousness.” It can be stretched quite far, but it has nothing to do with “the righteousness which is from God by faith.” (Philippians 3:4-9) Like Paul, we must come to the acknowledgment that, “in me (that is, in my fleshSin is anything that goes against God’s will and His laws. To commit sin is to transgress or disobey these laws. The lust to sin dwells in human nature. In other words, it is contaminated and motivated by the sinful tendencies that dwell in all people as a result of the fall into sin and disobedience in the garden of Eden. This... More) nothing good dwells.” Romans 7:18. It is a process that all disciples must go through. Here everyone is on the same footing.

“I fall short”

It is very instructive and faith-strengthening to read how J.O. Smith describes this process from “my own righteousness” to “the righteousness which is from God by faith:”

“According to the flesh I am evil from the sole of my foot to the top of my head. My best works are swollen with egotism; my love overflows with self-admiration. My ‘Christianity’ only accentuates all the outward splendor that is used to gather all honor into the unfillable barns of self.

“This way of life became repulsive to me. I realized that I was saturated with the leaven of malice. I said to God: ‘Surely I’m not a Christian. My life is an abomination, and I fall short in every area.’

“From that moment, Christ became my life. I came to understand that He is the life. From that moment, I saw myself as a wreck. I hate my life in this world, because it is evil, and I will never again try to make something of it.”
(From Letters of Johan O. Smith, # 8, August 2nd, 1905)

A life in Jesus’ footsteps

I must come to the conclusion that I simply cannot live the new life. I must come to the point where I understand that I must live in faith with help from Jesus, who will save me from my badness and my folly. With this understanding, I come before the throne of grace“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. Because Jesus was tempted, yet did not sin, it is possible for us to come to Him with boldness to receive grace. This grace is so we too shall not commit sin in our... More and pray with all my heart for mercy and grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) God sees my need and He hears my prayer, and strengthens my mind with His Word when I come into temptations and trialsTribulations or trials refer to any event or situation that comes your way that tempts you to sin; that gives opportunity for sinful thoughts and temptations to rise up in you. The tribulation or trial arises when your mind to serve God struggles against your lusts to sin. It also often refers to difficult situations that test your ability to... More. The answer to prayer does not mean that I am no longer tempted or tried – no, it consists of learning obedience in sufferingThe Bible often mentions suffering. Though this can refer to outward, physical suffering, in the New Covenant it mostly applies to the suffering that occurs when you deny your own sinful lusts and desires and put them to death. It is an inner suffering that occurs because your lusts are not being satisfied, rather than a physical, outward one –... More and ceasing from my sin. (Hebrews 5:7-8) And divine natureGod’s nature, or divine nature, is perfectly pure and it cannot be tempted by evil. We are promised that we can be partakers of the divine nature by fleeing the corruption in the world that comes through our lusts. As we gradually overcome our sinful human nature it is replaced by divine nature – God shares His own nature with... More comes forth.

There are great and glorious depths in this gospel, and we will never finish exploring the possibilities that the message of the cross gives. A transformation takes place, which comes from God. A pleasing heavenly aroma, the fragrance of Jesus Christ, appears in my life. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16) That is something completely different from just high morals. It is a life in Jesus’ footsteps, a crucified discipleA disciple is another word for a follower of Christ, one who is learning to be like his Master. As a disciple you follow Jesus Christ, who is the Master and by living like Him you become more like Him. (Matthew 16:24; 1 Peter 2:21-22)... More life. May God open our eyes so that we by faith bear the dying of Jesus in our bodies and experience that His life is becoming more and more visible in us.

Key teachings

Explore how God’s Word challenges and empowers us to live 100% according to His will, so we no longer need to fall in sin, but can come to a life of victory.

I am crucified with Christ
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I Am Crucified With Christ

This booklet is based on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with ChristJesus was physically crucified on the cross at Calvary. Though blameless, He took upon Himself the punishment for sin, which was death, so He could pay our debts and forgive us our sin if we are willing to believe in Him and follow Him the Apostle Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20) This is a metaphorical... More; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me …” Here Elias Aslaksen explains what this means and how the reader can have the same testimony as Paul in their own life.

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