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Christians Aren’t “Just Forgiven”

When it comes to accessing power over sin, it’s our turn to do the reckoning. We are to reckon ourselves as already dead to sin, and when we do, God infuses the power of new life into us. “But I don’t feel dead to sin,” you say. “Sin and wrong desires definitely feel alive in me.” That’s exactly why reckoning is so important: Our feelings will tell us that we’re dead to God and alive to sin; we need to listen to God’s voice telling us the opposite.

Abraham is the perfect example of this. He was infertile and 90 years old when God declared that he would have a son. When God said that, Abraham didn’t think to himself, “You know, that sounds about right. I have been feeling a bit more frisky the last few days.” No, Romans says that he believed God, even though he didn’t feel it. And only after believing did he receive the promised strength.

You and I will only receive strength to be dead to sin when we believe God has already made us dead to sin. We always want to feel first, and then we’ll believe. But God says, “You have to believe first, and then you’ll feel.” In a sense, this is “name-it-claim-it” sanctification. The “name-it-claim-it” crowd has one thing right: We can and should claim Jesus’ power, even when we don’t feel it. What they get wrong is what you claim. Jesus’ promises of power aren’t for more prestige, influence or wealth; they’re for something much more valuable—growth in Christlikeness.

Eternal life is at our fingertips—not simply a length of time that God allows us to live, but an entirely new quality of life that we can take part in now. The question isn’t simply, “If you died tonight, where would you go?” It’s also, “If you wake up tomorrow, how will your life look different because Christ is in it?”   

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.