I was watching a video clip the other day of Dr. Ravi Zacharias, the popular Christian Apologist. He said something that struck me as a powerful summary of what Jesus has done for us:
Jesus did not come to make bad people good, but to make dead people come alive
I have been in dialog over the last year with a few people who are struggling with their faith because they know how hard it is to overcome their sin nature and they feel they are not worthy enough. Zacharias’s statement is on point in that what Jesus has done for believers has nothing to do with whether you are bad or good, or worthy, or saintly. Jesus has given the believers the gift of salvation, of wiping the record clean on our behalf so we can have eternal life.
Paul tells us in Romans 3:21-26 that no one deserves this gift:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Not one of us deserve it. Not one of us can earn it by being good. Salvation is a free gift from God. Paul reminds the Christians in the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 2:1-5) that they were all dead in their sin before believing in Jesus:
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 flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving 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.
So Paul tells us that we have come alive through Jesus.
Jesus himself says as much during his ministry. He describes himself as “the resurrection and the life”. John records in his Gospel (John 10:10) that Jesus says that he came to bring life to all of us:
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
So as we come to Easter, the most important and holy day of the year for Christians, we need to remind ourselves of what Christ’s death and resurrection really means. It means that as Christ is risen from the dead, we have risen with him. We rise out of the trap of our sin nature. Christ makes us new. We “put on” Christ. Christ works within us. We are no longer “dead in our trespasses.” We are new Sons and Daughters of God through Jesus Christ. The process of becoming more and more Christlike, called the process of sanctification, will not be complete during our brief time on Earth. But the process will continue after death until we are made perfect.
Do not let your past sins weigh you down by playing that endless audio loop in the back of your head, “Don’t pretend you are holy or something, if everyone really knew how bad you are they would despise you. This Christian thing is not for you.” Christ gives you a new life, a new identity, allowing you to not be trapped by who you were. Remember that who you are now is defined by an empty tomb that was carved in a Judean hillside two thousand years ago. Have a blessed Easter.