The arrival of spring is heartily welcomed in Minnesota where winter lingers for almost a half-year. The two-parted whistles from male Northern Cardinals is often heard in the early spring. While lifting my head up to search for the birds, I cheerfully found little buds springing from the tip of the branches. I think our spiritual life is very similar: Only through experiencing the coldness of death, can we start to cherish the joy of resurrection.
While Christians praise God for choosing us to receive the grace of salvation, we not only acknowledge our release over the bondage of our sins and evil through Jesus Christ, but also realize that our new life has been undergoing the inception of the eternal life with glorious victory. When I read about Lazarus who was dead and rotting in the grave for four days, I cannot help but relate Lazarus to myself who was dead spiritually and brought back to life by Jesus. Therefore, I compare the stages of resurrection of Lazarus and my spiritual life in the following.
The stages of resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:43-44)
- Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
- The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
- Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
The stages of resurrection of my spiritual life
- I was dead in my sins so that I could not see and know God. But through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, my spirit came back to life so that I can respond to Jesus Christ’s effectual calling. As a result, I confessed and repented my sins to God and “He forgave all my sins” (Colossians 2:13).
- God made me alive with Christ who was risen from the death.
- While I was cleansed by Jesus Christ’s blood, God canceled the written code that was against me and took it away, nailing it to the cross. My debt of sins is totally paid, once for all.
The climax of the resurrection of Lazarus is that people helped take off the strips of linen covering his body and face. Likewise, God cut off the spiritual handcuffs and shackles from our sins and Satan so that we can be “rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Christ” (Colossians 1:13). Since then, we were reconciled with God through believing Jesus Christ and “become holy, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).
A truly reborn Christian wants to obey God’s commands out of love. Our spiritual life grows as we read the Bible and pray in the spirit. Gradually, we understand God’s wills that have been clearly written in the Bible and also learn from Jesus, our best role model who completely obeyed the Father without holding His own schedule or item list.
Why is the name of Jesus Christ powerful to save sinners and beat the evil? It’s because He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.
“Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:6-11).
By faith, Christians receive the precious name of Jesus Christ, as a police officer is granted a badge. We are given the authority to trample on evils and to overcome all the power of the spiritual enemy.
The heart of humility and gratitude makes you see yourself as a forgiven sinner in front of God. You admit that you may stumble in ignorant imperfection in this life. However, you shall not stay in the guilt; instead, you come to God and confess your sins when God convicts you, as you believe that “if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive you your sins and purify you from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
However, when you encounter Satan in spiritual warfare, he will try to deceive you that you cannot avoid sinning against God because of your sinful flesh. As a result, Satan either tempts you to find an excuse for your sins or to feel depressed and helpless to overcome sins. At this very moment, you need to proclaim your status as a saint: Through the blood of Jesus Christ, you have been given the divine nature and can escape the corruption of flesh.
Therefore, you have the freedom to not go on sinning and you will not sin with deliberate intention because you are born of God with His divine nature. Through continually practicing to “Submit to God and resist the devil” (James 4:7), the muscle of your faith will be strengthened. You can gain the victory over sins because “He has brought you out into the light” (Micah 7:9), “you are more than conquerors through Him” (Romans 8:37).
Now, because you clearly declare that your identity is God’s child, with the Truth, you can expose the devil’s lies and resist his temptation. You will notice that the sound of accusation or your guilt disappear while the devil flees from you. However, Jesus said: “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). When Jesus comes back, you will receive His praise, glory and honor (1 Peter 1:7).
Have you joyfully received Jesus as your Savior and the Lord so that you can grow mature spiritually and gain the assurance of salvation and the hope of everlasting glory? How do you see yourself today in light of your salvation through Jesus?