As a believer’s trust in God’s truth grows, more is opened up to his understanding. It is not new revelation, but illumination of God’s final word, by His Holy Spirit. The first, vital thing for any believer is to know Christ as the wonderful sin offering. Jesus took our place and the punishment we deserved was poured out upon Him.
We rejoice that Christ has died for our sins.. was buried and raised from death. We rejoice to know that ‘in Christ’ our sins are buried in God’s sea of forgetfulness. This understanding grows into wonderment… that Jesus became my substitute. All the punishment that I deserved as a sinner was transferred onto Him. He suffered and died, was buried, and rose again the third day… for me.
The knowledge that ALL my sins were forgiven forever was a most glorious truth – a cleansing that flooded my soul like a sweet refreshing fountain of crystal water. But part of growing in the faith dictates that faith must be tested.
Growing pains inevitable occur in all believers when our faith in Christ is tried. Sometimes stunted growth is the result of a lack of good teaching. Sometimes spiritual growth is resisted because of carnal desires. Often it’s because Scripture is little known, little taught, or little understood.
Forgiveness of sins is a fairly simple and acceptable concept – substitution. But sin, as a ruling power in our lives, requires identification. And unless this is taught and understood a disciple’s growth can be stunted, and worse still – believers try to do the work in their life that only God can do.
Substitution truths are generally wonderfully understood – He died for me. Identification truths are a much more difficult concept – I died in Him. So what are substitution truths and identification truths?
SUBSTITUTION – is where Christ took our sins upon Himself – He died for us. Christ died for our sins; He took the punishment we deserve; He was our substitute. Sin as an offence was forgiven at the cross. The death penalty for sin was paid. Sin in the life of every believer is totally acquitted, for Christ died for our sins. BUT sin as a master, ruling our forgiven lives requires identification with Him.
IDENTIFICATION – is where we died in Him at the cross. We identity with Him. In order to understand our identification we must appropriate truths in Romans 6. Romans 6 is the liberating truth of identification – with Christ on the cross. Romans 7 explains the trap many fall into – without apprehending this truth. A careful study of Romans Chapters 6, 7 and 8 outlines this fundamental, foundational truth.
I once heard about a godly man who read Romans – once, every month of his life. He wanted to firmly grasp and implement this concept of identification with Christ. The early chapters of Romans describe in startling clarity God’s hatred of sin. In logical sequence, Paul explains how everyone has knowledge of their Creator God. Gentile and Jew are guilty before Him – and no one has an excuse for unbelief.
Paul details how the righteous are justified by faith and are to live by faith – alone. He explains in great detail God’s wonderful plan of redemption – through faith in Christ. He explains how Jesus us the Federal Head of an entirely new creation – in Christ – for the old fallen creation in Adam have the sentence of death upon their heads, but the new creation in Christ has the free gift of eternal life in their hearts.
But then comes the wonderful TRUTH of Romans chapter 6 – identification. Because we are in Christ, we are not subject to the law of sin and death. Because we are in Christ, we are subject to the law of life and liberty in Christ. One saint of God describes it in these terms… He has put our old man – our original self – where He put our sins… namely, on the cross with Christ.
Just as the sins we committed were placed on Christ 2000 years ago… when He died, so our sinful nature (our old self-life), was nailed to that cross, when He died – our Adamic propensity; the old man; our sin nature was nailed to the cross. And that is where it needs to remain – crucified through the duration of this life.
And that was why Paul was able to say: ‘My old self-life has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. It is no longer I – but Christ’. Galatians 2:20
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
11 In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord‘s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
5 The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
63 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.
86 Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.
3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.
4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
6 Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.
7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.
9 All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.
10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
11 Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
12 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.
13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
14 O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.
15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
16 O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.
17 Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me.