We often hear about people whose lives hang in the balance because of their damaged hearts. They need a new heart to continue living and cling to life while waiting for a heart donor. All of mankind has a similar condition. Everyone needs a new spiritual heart because the one we have is not open to God or interested in Him.
By God’s grace He offers us a new heart. He sent His very own son, Jesus Christ, as a willing donor. Jesus wants to replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh, a heart that is responsive to God (Ezekiel 36:25-27). Actually, He wants to do much more than this. He wants to give us salvation, make us a part of His family, bring about our healing, enable our spiritual growth and bring us to heaven.
All of these blessings are possible because Jesus Christ came to this earth and died for our sins on the cross. We deserved to die, but He died in our place. Peter said it very clearly, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God (I Peter 3:18).” Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead created the possibility of the redemption of all mankind. Now it is up to us to respond and receive the gracious gift God offers. For those who repent by turning from their sins, turning to Christ and trusting Him for salvation, all that God offers will be theirs. Once a person has received God’s grace and enters into salvation, God begins the process of transforming that person into the likeness of Christ. In doing this, God is restoring His fallen image in man. He is reversing the effects of the Fall.
Man is now made alive spiritually.
Man, who was dead spiritually, is made alive through personal salvation. Paul describes what God has done in his letter to the Ephesians.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1-4)
To be alive spiritually means that we are able to relate to God and experience a special relationship with Him as our loving Father. This new relationship with God saves us from His wrath and will last for eternity. God will never tire of us. And we will never tire of Him. This relationship, like any other, grows as we invest time in it. We have not only gained an eternal loving Father, but we have also become part of a whole new family, the family of God. He is the Father, and we who believe are His children (John 1:12).
Man can now choose to do what is right.
Man, who was enslaved to sin before being made alive spiritually, can now choose to do what is right. He did not lose the ability to choose at the Fall. Rather, he came under the negative influences of his sin nature, the world and the continuing deceptions of Satan. These influences confuse his mind so that he regularly chooses wrong and is blinded to his sinful human condition.
Christ has changed all that. We have been enlightened and delivered from enslavement to sin (Romans 6:6). Through our new relationship with Christ, we can now find wisdom and strength to choose to do what is right. God has given us the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, to live in us and to empower us to live for Him. The Holy Spirit together with the Bible and the people of God show us truth so we can make good choices in our lives, choices that are right and bring glory to God.
This is not to say that we will always make the right choices or do the right things. We can still choose to do what is wrong. In fact, all our old enemies (our sin nature, the world and Satan) are still trying to deceive us and blind us. We are in a spiritual battle in this world, and our enemies are formidable. But Christ is greater and stronger than they are. As we learn to depend on Him and mature spiritually, we will increasingly overcome these enemies, but this battle is an ongoing one, one that will continue throughout this life.
Man now has confidence before God.
Man, who was shamed when he was spiritually dead, can now have confidence before God. Since the Fall, man has had a problem with sin and the resulting guilt. He is not able to live up to his own standards, and deep in his heart, he knows it. There are many ways he tries to cover his guilt, but they are generally unsuccessful.
Jesus came to take that guilt away. His death was sufficient to satisfy God’s wrath against all sins: past, present and future. He removed the barrier of sin that was between God and man, and now, nothing separates the believer from God. Paul put it this way, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
The concept that we are fully and totally forgiven, even when we continue to sin, is a difficult concept to accept. Satan and our consciences continually condemn us and tell us that God certainly cannot love sinners like us. We need to focus on the truth: there is no sin too great to be forgiven, and Jesus has come to cleanse our guilty consciences. Therefore we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. In fact, God tells us to do that very thing. He instructs us to approach Him with confidence in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16) and to pursue Him aggressively.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
Man is now made one with other believers.
Man, who was at odds with his fellow man, is now made one with other believers. Needless to say, man’s treatment of his fellow man has generally been less than admirable. As cultures move farther and farther away from Christ they become increasingly ruthless (Romans 1:18-32). There have only been 144 years of recorded history when there hasn’t been some kind of a war going on.
Jesus came to reconcile us not only to God but also to one another. He has leveled the playing field and removed reasons for prejudice by dying for all people. Everyone comes to Him on the same terms; He makes no distinction between races, sexes or any other classes of people. All who come to Him join the same family of God and have equal access to the Father. Christians are a multinational group of people who find their commonality in Christ. The oneness they share implies intimacy, agreement, companionship and teamwork. Christians have shown over and over that they can demonstrate these qualities with other believers no matter what other differences may be present.
Revelation speaks of our common heritage and inheritance in Christ.
You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve God, and they will reign on the earth.
God, through Christ, reverses many of the effects of the Fall. He takes away our spiritual deadness, our slavery to sin, our shame and our hostility toward one another. He replaces them with spiritual aliveness, the ability to choose right, confidence before God and oneness with one another. The reversal of these effects begins at salvation and continues as we grow spiritually. Finally, when Christ returns for His people and sets up His Kingdom, all the effects of the Fall will be removed and replaced with something far better than we can imagine. We have a great hope and a great future!
• Meditate on the benefits of being God’s child as you read Ephesians 1:3-10.
• What changes have you seen God make in your relationship with yourself, with God and with others?
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