Commandments and Our New Identity, Part IV: Betting the Farm

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Our identity in Christ has profound practical applications, and each one of those sounds across the landscape of our new life with the promise of hope and strength. We are new creations, holy, one spirit with the Lord. We no longer live but Christ lives in us as our righteousness. We now are to live by reliance on him. These statements ask us to move differently into each day we are given, but what does it look like experientially to put our entire spirit, soul, and body into faithing in the new Reality?

Well, first of all it means opening our eyes to our real identity, eating his flesh and drinking his blood, building our self-concept on who Christ is, in us, what he has accomplished on our behalf, what he will accomplish through us. The Bible gives a completely different picture of reality than the world. Identity comes from God, not from performance, not from behavior. Christianity is not a “climb to the top of the mountain and become a guru” religion. It is a living, active, in-this-moment reliance on an indwelling Person, who has come to live inside us by grace through the Cross.

The first question is, “Do I really believe this? Does Christ live in me?” The second question would be, “Is he willing and able to live through me, as if it were me living, if I faithe in him?” If we don’t believe these propositions, it’s high time to get the Bible out and start digging, because we are believing in a sub-Christian Word of God.

But let’s say we know these two things as Fact. What then, does it look like? How does it work out in real-time?

A relationship is built on trust. Confidence. Mutual love. Also, it is built. As we relate, trust grows. Confidence builds. Love grows deeper, bigger.

We can’t build a close, deep relationship with a transcendent God who is somewhere “way up there” and who never speaks to us, anymore than a husband and wife could live 2000 miles apart for all the years of their marriage and only write letters. We need the immanent to begin to reveal the transcendent. As faithers in Jesus Christ, we have been given the very source and ground of Life itself; in him all things live and move and have their being, and he holds all things together. Inside of me, inside of you, lives the power that spoke, and nothing became everything. Does he not have the power to keep us from sin, to manifest love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, humility, and faith through us?

As this relationship is revealed, shown forth, built, we become more confident. The unseen becomes more real than the seen. Jesus becomes more real than circumstances, or fears, or all the other things we feel in our souls.

Back to the original question. What, then, does “betting the farm” look like?

In any situation, especially those of temptation, it means reiterating to ourselves that Christ is our real-time, here-and-now righteousness. More specifically, Christ is the particular virtue we need to get through the temptation moment. If we need patience, endurance, we have the patient, enduring One living inside us. We can turn to him in faith to let his patience and endurance flow through us. I sometimes say things out loud, if alone. Lord, you are perfect patience within me. I am betting the farm that your patience is flowing through me right this moment; Christ is living through me right here, right now.. I am putting my complete faith in you here. Then I step out in expectation that he will do what he has promised: “I will cause you to walk in my ways, and keep my statutes.”

To use another example, let’s say we need purity in a particular situation. Well, who am I? I’m just a cup, a vessel, a branch. I have no ability to independently produce fruit, to be pure on my own. But who is Jesus? He is the source of Purity. Where is he? Well, he lives inside of me. Can that purity, or patience, or joy, or love, be transmitted from his Spirit in me into my spirit, through my soul, through my body, my life, my actions? That question, answered rightly, is where the spinning tires hit the pavement and squeal off, squirrelly at first, but soon gaining speed and stability.

What about the rules? What about the commands? The commands are there partly to reveal – they reveal when we are not abiding, when we have tripped up in our trust and have started again to try being righteous by our own steam. The cure is to go back out of Romans 7 via the narrow gate called No Condemnation in Christ and get back into living in the faith-life of Romans 8. But I run ahead; that’s all for the next post.

Profile photo of Ron Block

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


9 Comments

  1. Jim Denman

    Ron-

    I thought this post was good. I like what you said about the commands being there to partly reveal:

    “What about the rules? What about the commands? The commands are there partly to reveal – they reveal when we are not abiding……”

    The only part I would take exception to is where you say:

    “when we have tripped up in our trust and have started again to try being righteous by our own steam.”

    In my experience, when I stop abiding, it is not because I am trying to be righteous by my own steam, but I am instead being unrighteous in my actions by going my own way and not His!

  2. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jim: “…the law entered, that the offence might abound…” Rom 5:20. That’s what self-driven effort does.

    If you are indwelt by Christ, and are a new creation, then what you call “going your own way” is really going Satan’s way.

    Separation is the hallmark of the licentious Christian, and the legalistic person as well. Rather than seeing ourselves as bondslaves to Christ, indwelt by him, having him present every moment as our guiding power and love and life, we see ourselves as separate, having to be good and avoid evil. Some choose good and are self-righteous, thus sinning by covering themselves with filthy rags. Some choose evil, thus sinning.

    The Christian way is to choose faith – to rely on the indwelling God.

  3. Becca

    Nice work, Ron. Thank you for this.

    I am a first-born, driven gal who spent over twenty years of the Christian life trying to obey God, trying to follow the rules. The ironic thing is that I believed my salvation was accomplished via Christ, but I thought sanctification happened largely in my own power. That is what I had been taught for years and years.

    I wouldn’t have been able to hear the meaning behind an essay like this during that season of my life. I didn’t realize it, but I was too proud. Too sure that I could obey through my own striving.

    After many years of attempting to improve myself, God finally let me come to the end of my strength. I thought I was failing Him, but what I realized was that He had been waiting for that the whole time. Waiting for me to quit trying, so that He would woo me into a state of abiding. He wanted to live through me, instead of watching me perform for Him. It’s such a big difference.

    I am still learning. Stumbling. Striving at times. But it is a whole different ball game to begin to walk in faith instead of effort. It’s something I’m not sure words can explain until we’ve hit a point of brokenness. But how sweet it is to be moved by an indwelling God instead of clay and groaning.

    Galatians 3:3

  4. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Becca,

    Clay and groaning. Perfect.

    If we are complete, filled full in Christ, holy, whole persons, there is no such thing as self-improvement anymore – only clearer, better, greater expression of Christ’s life through us as we learn to wholly rely on him to live as us. God puts us on top of the mountain and says, “Live. Love. Be.” “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live, then, as children of light.” “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

    This Person is the power source of all virtue. If we rely on him, living in us, to live through us, he does. You are seeing that. But you are correct; we cannot see it until we are broken of all ideas of our own ability to be good.

  5. James Witmer

    Ron, I continue to enjoy this series. This

    In any situation, especially those of temptation, it means reiterating to ourselves that Christ is our real-time, here-and-now righteousness.

    Is a reminder I need daily – to remember Christ and His life in me. Thanks.

    PS: My inner (okay, not-so-inner) nerd is delighted that formatting the quote above required the “blockquote” tag.

  6. Africa S

    Galatians 2:20 is one of my favorite verses to share with people. Was ministering to a friend the other night, and they believed that as long as they “Do good things, and are nice to others” that would be enough for God. However, at the same time they stated how difficult it is to do these good things. Kind of a “I’m just a sinner.” sort of mindset.

    I shared that verse with her, and something that I’ve found is that a lot of people have heard of it, but unfortunately they don’t understand it, or simply disregard it. (Also, that’s why it is very much important to study the Bible- all of it. You have to know what you’re believing in, or else you might as well be wandering around in darkness. We need to the Word to shine a light on who God is, and what his promises are to us.)

    I explained the verse, and a few more to them, to show that really, we won’t be able to do anything on our own. That in fact, apart for God we can do no good works. (Because, God IS goodness.) We are simply flesh- weak. I explained how without Him, we are just my empty frames, blank canvases, waiting to have a beautiful portrait of never-ending love and peace painted upon our hearts. However, we have to accept Jesus as our savior, welcome him into ourselves, and trust in Him to do his good work.

    Then the next part- and the one I always get so excited about sharing- is how when his Holy Spirit is residing within us, He’s the overflowing source of everything we need. And knowing His promises to us, we can expect and have faith that He WILL do what’s good for us. Because He “Works all things to the council of His own will”, and for the betterment of those who believe.

    I believe the talk ignited a growing flame inside of my friend. Now I’m working with them on “Betting the Farm”. I thank God for using me to spread his Word to others. It’s him using me, and working His own will in MY life. And it’s wonderful.

  7. Scott

    Thanks again for another thoughtful, helpful post. As I’ve moved into my thirties, identity has been an issue (maybe THE issue) I continually wrestle with. Your posts have been touchstones for me to reconsider and recover what it truly means to abide in Christ. Thank you for pointing to Jesus as our sufficency in each and every moment of our lives.

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