The stage is set; the house lights are dimmed; the camera’s are rolling, and a star is born—you! You are the star in the play, “Living by Faith,” and you have learned your lines. There are only three, but you repeat them over and over again in the play—”Search me, Oh Lord…see if there be any wicked way in me;” “Oh Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner;” “I believe, help my unbelief!”—and you are ready!
In the surreal world of the stage you are entering, it’s as if you are a new creature, actually becoming the person you are portraying in the play: one who readily sees his myriad sins, eagerly repents of them, and then knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they are forgiven completely.
God even plainly tells you, as this character you are playing, that He has buried all your sin in the deepest sea (Micah 7:19), has removed it as far from you as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12), and even remembers them against you no more (Isaiah 43:25)! In your life (the life of the character you are playing), that sin is never again a factor in any way.
This is where the rubber hits the road, the climax of the play. Do you, as the lead character, really believe what God says happened at the cross—that today’s sins were fully forgiven and taken care of there, 2000 years ago? This is that third and final step in “living by faith:” How the protagonist (you) responds to this question: Was Jesus telling the truth when He shouted from the cross, “It is finished!?”
In this play, you, the star, believe that He was. You believe that God has answered those three initial prayers, and He has released His Holy Spirit within you. Now God has turned you loose. He tells you that you are completely free from needing to worry about sin, your behavior, ever again. You are free to soar over life’s hurdles and face head-on God’s purpose for you.
Can this be true? Yes, and you, as the star, know it is true, and, as a result, you can’t wait to attack life! You know in your heart, not just your head, the implications of what happened on that cross on a lonely hill outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and they are staggering.
They include knowing that you are now, since the cross, completely free (before God and all outdoors!) to follow your heart’s desire; to do exactly what you want to do. As a matter of fact, you have discovered that the best way to know how God’s Spirit is leading you, when you are walking by faith, is to ask yourself, “What do I really want to do?” When you are walking by faith, what you want to do is just what God wants you to do!
“What?!” many Christians say. “How can you say that, Andrews?” They see this statement as a dangerous overstatement, a blatant invitation to ungodly, profligate, license.
But I am in good company. The Apostle Paul was constantly accused of the same thing: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin continue to live in it (Romans 6:1, 2)? Martin Lloyd-Jones, the famous English pastor at Westminster Chapel in England in the mid-1900s, tells us in his commentary on Romans 6, that if a preacher is not accused of preaching license, then he is not preaching the true gospel of the grace of God.
Why is that? Because we don’t want to be free! We love living by rules because (in Adam) all of us ate of the fruit of the wrong tree in the Garden. Since then, we have been addicted to living by the knowledge of good and evil, the law. As Christians, we try to do our best to keep it; as non-Christains, we try unconsciously to flout God by breaking it, but we are all “living by the law.” And, as inveterate sinners, we are all, Christians and non-Christians alike, failing miserably: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
But that old way of living—by biblical rules for what we should do, say and even think—is over; it has been nailed to the cross, and you as the hero in the play, know it. “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4). “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive” (Romans 7:6), to now live fully by faith alone, just trusting Daddy to lead us.
Of course, you, as the star of the play, “Living by Faith,” know that God has told us clearly how this new way of living works in practice: “For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13). You know this verse says that God is (not “may,” “might,” or “could”) producing (right now – present tense) in you the desire (the “want-to”) and then the power to do exactly what God wants you to do. You know and believe that God is, right now, actively at work in you, a wicked sinner who is not “righteous,” does not “understand,” or “seek God,” but has “turned aside,” and has “become worthless.” You know that He wants you to quit trying to change yourself by being good and not evil and trust Him completely with your life to do with as He pleases.
You are simply following your “want tos” like a little child, trusting Daddy to lead you, discipline you, and teach you, and you are finding yourself entering a brand new world, called in the Bible “the kingdom of God,” the world of “living by faith” (Luke 18:17).
This supposedly fictitious story about you as a star in this supposedly fictitious play, is not fictitious at all—it’s reality. Reality is not necessarily what you are experiencing, but what God says it is. Whether you know and experience it yet or not, God says your old man has been crucified with Christ on the cross 2000 years ago (Romans 6:1), resurrected with Him three days later as a new creature, and ascended with Christ to God’s right hand! You are, right now, in Christ, soaring over life’s attempts to defeat you, with God’s enemy Satan firmly “under your feet!” (Ephesians 1:21, 22). Believe it, because it’s true, and that makes it real in your experience!
Next week, an exciting, real-life story of God changing “want-tos.”