“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” (Gal. 2:20).
All of us have been coming to church every Lord’s Day to worship God. Some of us have come to a personal relationship with Christ only not too long ago. Others may have known Christ many years back. Our congregation comprises a group of seniors, families, singles, working adults, youths and children. A faithful few would attend the Tuesday night prayer meeting regularly. But, have you ever pondered deeper as to the reason of your involvement or that of others in our church? Why would you or others want to spend precious time, money and effort in the activities of the church? Wouldn’t it give you better “returns” if your resources are channelled to other things in your life? Why do you go to church? Is it because there are always thoughtful and caring people whom you can make friends with in the church? Or is it because you have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon? Or is it because of the wonderful snacks you can enjoy at Tea Fellowship after Worship Service? Why would you want to spend your time every Sunday to come to church?
Some of you may have answered rightly that you do this simply because of the love of God for you. I’ll say a hearty, “Amen” to that. Yes, we worship God and serve Him out of our gratitude towards Him. God has showered His great love upon us. The least we can do is to give Him the glory and praise. The life that we have is no longer our own but belongs to God. Jesus had redeemed us by His precious blood. Hence, we have to live our lives to please God and to glorify Him (1Cor. 10:31).
The apostle Paul says, “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” (Gal. 2:20). This verse is an interesting paradox. Paul says that we are dead (crucified) but yet we live. What does he mean? Does He mean that we are the “living dead” or “zombies”? Certainly not! What Paul states here is the transformation of our nature in us. Before we come to know Jesus Christ, our old nature reigned in us. We are under the bondage of sin. Whatever we wish to do, we do it in subjection to sin. Sin is our master. We are only free to do what sin dictates to us. In our bondage under sin and without faith, it is impossible for us to live a life that pleases God (Heb. 11:6).
When God saves us, the Holy Spirit indwells in us. We receive a new nature and become a new creature: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Cor. 5:17). We are “born-again”. With our new nature, we can do that which was impossible before – to be freed from the dominion which sin has over us. Our old nature, which subjected us to sin, is put to death. Death of our old nature does not mean total destruction of the old nature. Death of the old nature does not mean that we have become perfectly holy such that we are incapable of sinning any more. Death simply means separation. Thus, the death of our old nature simply means that we are separated from it. Our old nature no longer has dominion over us like before. We are freed from our old nature and hence, we should no longer serve sin.
The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6). In our saved state with a new nature, we are still capable of sinning. In fact, when we sin against God now, it is not that we have no power to overcome sin. Rather, it is a deliberate choice we made in life. We do not have any more excuse when we sin. So think twice before you choose to give in to temptation. We can overcome temptation and not let temptation overpowers us because we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit is able to empower us to overcome temptation: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1Cor. 10:13). Do you believe in this promise of God? Would you prefer the easy way out of giving in to temptation and then earning the displeasure of God? Or would you fight hard to ward off the temptation by the power of the Holy Spirit and clinging on this precious promise of God? Which would you choose? It will be a deliberate choice you have to make in life. Choose wisely.
Remember, with this new nature in you, the life that you possess is no longer yours anymore, for your life has been redeemed by Christ. Your life belongs to Christ who has loved you and gave Himself for you. It is no longer you that live, but Christ in you. You have to live your life reflecting the nature that Christ is in you. That is why the apostle reminds us, “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” (Gal. 2:20).
We have to learn to live our lives to serve Christ. Learn the ancient law of gratitude. In this unspoken law, when a drowning person was saved by another from his death, he would be totally indebted to his benefactor. Likewise, if we have understood that Christ has saved us and has given us eternal life, the more we ought to express our gratitude towards Him. He is the Son of God who has given His life to save us. His life is exchanged with us so that we may have a changed life. If we totally comprehend that, can we live a life except that out of gratitude? Living our lives to serve God is a logical conclusion. As one person put it this way, “Our life is a gift from God, but the way we live our lives is our gift to God.”
But how should we live a life to serve God? Start by having a renewed conscience towards sin. When you are tempted, remind yourself that you are no longer of the old nature. Do not go by your own power and strength to resist it. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to grant you the strength to resist that temptation. Strive to live a life that is pleasing to God. In all that you do the whole day, communicate with God. Ask, “God, what would you want me to do?” Love and serve the Lord with all your heart and soul. When you worship God, come before God with a heart of rejoicing and thanksgiving. When the Word of God is read and preached, received it with gladness of heart; taking it to be the Lord is speaking to you through His Word. Offer yourself freely to serve the Lord. When you see things needed to be done, don’t wait for invitation. Instead, take the initiative and offer yourself to help. I thank God for the many of you who had offered yourselves freely to serve in the Gospel Musical. On behalf of the Church Session, I want to thank God and thank you all for serving the Lord wholeheartedly. But remember, we can do nothing for Christ except Christ first does something in us first. And thank God that He did! HCL.