“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings….” Romans 5:1-2
The work of our God gives us an interesting promise from this passage: we can glory in our sufferings. That is not how most of us would view the idea of suffering. The glory of which Paul writes here is not our glory, but our God’s glory. He is glorified when we respond in hope and obedience even in our sufferings. And because we live by His life in us, He is the one who endures through us.
The glory is His. Yet He shares that glory with us as well. Even in the death of the martyr, witnesses cannot escape the presence of our God in the dying martyr. So often we read of the witnesses offering praise to God because of the martyr’s strength and hope.
Everything in the way of the promises of God to us in the Bible are given by means of our new covenant life, which is the life of Christ Himself in us. All the good our God is offering us comes by His life lived in us, in place of our own. Abundant life. Rivers of living water flowing out of us. His love poured out into us. Wisdom. Joy. Peace. Rest for our souls. Patience and gentleness. Goodness and kindness. And here, glory.
This promise of being able to glory in our sufferings is ours because when we are living by the life of Christ in us, His character and indeed His life are evident through us. It is not our glory, but His that is on display in our sufferings. This is true of holiness, too. When Christ lives His life in place of ours, it is His holiness on display.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
In this passage we find how this life of Christ in us, in place of our own living, can be realized.
First, we throw off everything that hinders us. Certainly, this means every kind of sin. But it is deeper than that, for sin is the fruit of self-living. It is our self-living that holds us back, that hinders our living holy lives by faith. We lay the self down first, and by that we throw off the sin that flows from our self-living. These two go together or they do not go at all.
Next, we commit to the course of life set before us, which is the life of Christ in us. We commit to this life with all diligence and perseverance.
And with that we commit to being fixated with Christ and His life in us. The life of Christ becomes everything to us and in us. The things of self, of the world, of the flesh are no longer our priorities.
This is hard for us because we are by our very nature self-focused. It is hard because we have all come to love the world and the things of the world. Our rebel nature disposes toward these. Satan, our enemy is constantly wooing us toward them.
And these are the very things we must throw off if we are to live by the life of our Savior as His disciples. We throw these off so we can fix all our hopes and all our living on Christ alone, on His life lived in us.
Image via author, Flathead River, Bob Marshall Wilderness, MT