~By: Krista Steuber~
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
The pastor at my church gave a beautiful sermon this Easter, and I felt compelled to write about it. He talked about ‘The Great Exchange’ - how Jesus gave His life for our sins so that we can be in right standing with God. Along with that is understanding that life itself is a process of exchange; our lives are a process of exchange. We exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide when we breathe. We exchange time spent at work for a paycheck. We exchange money for food and payment of bills. The list goes on. And, when we come to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we exchange our old life for our new life in Him.
This exchange of our old life for our new life in Christ is a process. I think sometimes we may disregard that, or try to bypass the process. When you give your life to Christ, you may be 40 years old on the outside, but you are 4 seconds old on the inside. It is not an instant transformation into spiritual maturity, but a step-by-step process of growing, learning, and becoming who you are in Christ.
In essence, you are a “baby” Christian or a Christian “child.” Just as it takes time for a baby and then a child to mature into the adult that they will become, it takes time to develop spiritual maturity. Babies must roll over before they sit, sit before they crawl, and crawl before they walk. And, they fall down a lot. But, what do they also do? They get back up and try again. It is no different when we are maturing in Christ. We make mistakes. We say things we wish we didn’t say. We do things we wish we didn’t do. We fall down and get up, fall down and get up. But, make sure you fall forward and not backward. Failure is not where we stay, it’s where we go from.
We will battle our flesh until the day we die. Our earthly self will constantly tug at our spiritual self. We will continue to make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been following Christ for one day or thirty years. The process of learning and growing does not end. But, there is something that is different and has changed when you surrender to Christ. You are not on your own; you are not maturing on your own. Jesus lives in you; you are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. The strength of Jesus will help you learn from your mistakes. His strength will help you win the tug of war between your flesh and your spirit so that temptation does not turn into sin. You can’t do it on your own, and you are not meant to - it is the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in you. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
Allow yourself grace as you grow in your new life in Christ. Allow yourself grace as you work on pushing down your flesh more and more every day so that your spirit may rise up. You are exchanging your old life for your new life little by little. Your old thoughts, reactions, patterns of behavior, words, actions, prejudices, etc. are being exchanged step-by-step over time for all new ones as you follow Christ. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)
The enemy will battle you. He’ll put himself between your right ear and your left ear and tell you to give up after you make a mistake. He’ll try to beat you down so you stay down after you fall. Fight him off with the Word of God. Immerse yourself in God’s Word so that God’s promises live in your heart and the enemy's lies can be seen for what they are. Pray for God’s help for you to cultivate discipline to spend more and more time in His Word. Listen to His Word, read His Word, study His Word, memorize His Word, and meditate on His Word. Pray for God’s help for your love for Him to grow stronger every day so that you, in turn, can love others and be a reflection of Jesus. Pray for forgiveness for your mistakes and help to do better and for the Holy Spirit to fill you up every day. Pray for God to surround you with the Body of Christ - those who will help you, teach you, encourage you, pray over you, and lift you up. You were never meant to walk alone. God will give you your tribe. He will put those people in your life that you can learn from and grow with, and when you come together for God’s glory and purpose, amazing things will happen.
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)