Driving home after dropping off Grace at her workplace, I switched on the car radio and heard the following declaration in song by Matthew West:
I am no longer defined by all the wreckage behind.
The one who makes all things new has proven it’s true …
Hello, my name is child of the one true King.
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free.
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing.
I could not help but join in on the celebration of the work of Jesus that saves repentant believers from self-destruction.
The “wreckage behind” pictures the times when we disregard God’s leadership over our lives. We mess up and cause pain to others and to ourselves. In other words, it’s about the sinful acts that destroy us. Many of us tend to “dwell” in those past sins; we define ourselves by them and become paralyzed by them. We become trapped in the lie that we will never be freed from them, and conduct ourselves accordingto that lie.
But it need not be that way. The gospel is all about the liberating work of Christ. When we turn to him in faith, God frees us from our own past. Our past no longer will control our present. The promise is clear: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1.9 NIV). The faithfulness and justice of God is more about forgiveness and restoration (not condemnation). His primary desire is to restore sinners to a new kind of standing before him, that of a “child of the one true King” (see 1 John 3.1).
Reflecting on this truth has brought me to an expanded and nuanced understanding of the concept of “dwelling” or “abiding” in Christ. Scripture urges us: “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when
he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” (1 John 2.28 ESV). To dwell or abide carries the idea of “remaining in a specific place over a period of time” or “continuing in an activity or state.” And so to dwell in my past sin, for example, is to remain in a state where my identity is all about my failures and disappointments. But to dwell in Christ is to stand secure in the finished work of Christ, confident that he has broken the chains of the past. I am no longer bound by my past. I now can step away from the “wreckage behind” and live freely as a child of the King. Not my past sin but Christ defines who I am.
—Keith Y. Jainga