The wonder of the gospel is so multidimensional, but what I have been meditating upon lately is God's ability in the gospel to afflict us in our pride/self-sufficiency and at the same time encourage us in our many sins of disobedience. The sin of pride is taken care of at the cross of Christ for no matter how obedient, righteous, or well we may think we are doing, the cross bears witness that God laid our sin on His Son. No acts of worship or obedience from us are good enough, but only the righteousness of Christ. As the hymn proclaims,
I dare not trust my sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' namePastor Tullian further explains that a preoccupation with our own righteousness often undermines the work of God in sanctification,
The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more of Jesus and his performance for me. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with my effort over God’s effort for me makes me increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.Sins of disobedience to God's law (with an accompanying guilty conscience) are also dealt a death blow at Calvary "by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Col. 2:14). Christ became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13) as He bore our sin and ransomed us with His precious blood and there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom. 8:1). In the New Covenant, God will remember our sins no more because Christ has fulfilled every duty and penalty of the law on our behalf! There is comfort when we sin that "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). In order to grow spiritually, we need to remember that our every sin and debt has already been canceled through the work of our Lord Jesus. Elyse Fitzpatrick explains,
One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification.These truths of the gospel apply to our Christian sanctification every day. They free us from attempting to find our standing with God through our own puny, insufficient efforts, and also allow us to be assured that when we sin, we have forgiveness through our Mediator! If God finds us to be particularly self-sufficient, let us go in faith to the cross where the Prince of Glory died and let our own supposed goodness fade to nothing. If we are overwhelmed with the guilt of our sin, let us remember the cross of Christ and be washed anew in the cleansing blood of our Savior. The power of Christ through the gospel is what saves us, sanctifies us, and will ultimately see us safely into the glory of the Father's kingdom!