Last week I surveyed people in search for anyone who had completed their 2013 New Year’s resolution. I had intended to write a news story for my local paper featuring these resolution warriors. I came up with one lady who had completed a trip she wanted to take and a friend who had read the entire Bible. I couldn’t find anyone else.
Though I’m sure there are people I did not survey who set New Year’s resolutions in my town and accomplished it, more often than not, it seems resolutions aren’t actually achieved. Resolutions are long forgotten by the time we all seek to make them again. So I’ve come to the beginning of 2014 wondering if I have a resolution I’d like to accomplish this year.
Yes, I do. I want to be perfect in 2014.
I know, not your typical resolution. This isn’t a resolution I have to achieve; it’s already been done for me. I want to grow in my knowledge and understanding of what it means to be righteous before God. More specifically, I want to grow in understanding the great exchange; that Christ took our sin and imputed to us His righteousness. To be clear, I don’t want to be perfect. I want to soak in Jesus’ perfection. I want to grow in thinking more about Him.
As Christians, though we continue to struggle with sin, our sin will not be counted against us. Paul tells us in Romans: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (4:7-8). And we also know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3: 23-25). Christ paid fully for our sin and satisfied the wrath of God that we deserve.
But, because I am stuck in human form and because I am so familiar with my heart, I can tend to see my sin as great and forget that God’s grace is much greater. Thankfully I don’t stay there. God has given me much grace not to be condemned by my sin—for long. But so often I have a man-centered first response. I can think thoughts like, “I can’t believe I did that” or “Am I really that awful.” Yes, I am that awful and yes, I should believe that I am capable of whatever that is and much more.
But, I am certain that God has given me His Spirit so that my first response could be one of repentance and a declaration of “It is finished.” I want to grow in my understanding of what Dr. David Murray, calls the “divine done.”
God’s Law and conviction of sin have an important place in our lives and ministries. They show us our desperate need of outside help. However, the greatest emphasis of our lives and churches must be the divine Done not the divine Demand. God’s deeds, God’s acts, must be kept ever in the foreground.
Our works are always waiting in the wings, looking for any opportunity to run onstage and replace “Done” with multiple do’s, don’ts, shoulds, oughts, and musts. Hogging the spotlight, their ugly costumes, stumbled lines, and ham acting changes the whole mood of the show, silencing the applause, emptying the theatre, arousing the ire of the critics, and bringing down the curtain on any hope of a long and prosperous run.
I believe one of the greatest ways to understanding this divine done is understanding our righteousness before God through Christ. The implications of grasping even a small amount of knowing God’s heart for us is enormous. No more striving, no more sin-hunting, no more condemnation, no more me, me, me. I imagine grace, joy, peace, patience, surety, love, Christ, Christ, and more Christ. And again, repentance which is God’s kindness to us (Romans 2:4).
We’ve heard the saying take one look at your sin and ten at the cross. That is my goal this year, to look not once at the cross but to ever gaze at its awful beauty and embrace the great exchange as my own. It’s mine. It’s for me. It’s for you.
John Piper shares about the benefits of the great exchange in his sermon, “When the Lord Does Not Take Account of Sin:”
So what is the answer to why the gospel is the power of God unto salvation? And why does the gospel lift burdens and give joy and make strong? It’s because the gospel is the good news that our sins are laid on Christ and his righteousness is laid on us. The great exchange. The great imputation of our sin to Christ and God’s righteousness to us – called justification.
It’s the gospel. It’s the gospel I proclaim daily to my children and through my writing. It’s the free gift of God that comes by faith alone through grace alone. As simple as it is, it is incredibly profound.
So how do we go about learning to believe this gospel we proclaim as a first response to the sin that continues to cling to us?
Preach, preach, and preach to ourselves; trust God that when Jesus said, “it is finished” he meant it; and study God’s Word. And even as I work out my salvation and run to the cross, I know that nothing I do can add to what He did on my behalf—this I know and believe. Sisters, let’s run together.
The CBMW National Conference is April 8, 2014 in Louisville, KY. Speakers include John Piper, David Platt, Albert Mohler, and more.
Registration is just $30. Find more information here.