by Stan Schuermann
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
How does the righteous man or woman live by faith? We must first recall that as a believer in Christ, we are not of ourselves righteous. It is Christ, our substitute, who is righteous. And he grants (imputes) his righteous standing to us. This is why the Bible calls our righteousness an imputed righteousness. It belongs to someone else and he has freely given it to us.
So, believing in the truth about Jesus is how we are declared righteous and now we can live believing the truth about Jesus and the truth about ourselves. As we continue to believe what is true, our mind is being renewed. Calvin, in his Commentary on Romans, uses the word “renovation.” He says that the “renovation of our mind is necessary” because our thinking is naturally opposed to God.
But even with a renovated mind, we often struggle to be free from old habits and sins. This is a very real experience for believers and Paul will describe his own experience in Romans Chapter 7. Yet, the reality that we are engaged in this struggle should not cause us to despair or feel defeated. It actually gives us confidence that God is at work in us.
When Paul wrote to the young churches in Ephesus (Ephesians 4:22-24) and Colossae (Colossians 3:5-11) he encouraged them with a simple illustration to help them understand this. He told them to lay aside (like an old garment) the habits and sins of who they were and put on (like a new garment) who they are in Christ. Why would this be good news to his readers? Think about how long it takes you to change your shirt. When you recognize that the one you have on is not the right one, you take it off. You find the one you should be wearing and you put it on. It only takes a few seconds. It doesn’t take years.
This is encouraging news. We experience our sanctification moment by moment, shirt by shirt. This is God’s plan for how we are to grow up and gradually become more like Christ.
So, praise God for a renewed mind. A mind which continues to receive and rejoice in the truth from God’s Word. This is how we can live by faith.
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