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Why Are You Striving?

The principle of transformation is the evidence and the heartbeat of the Gospel. It signals that we have been born again; that we have received a new life. That the defibrillator that is Christ has jolted us from our slumber in the ways of the world and awoken us to life in and through him.
Transformation means change. And not just a minor change – perhaps making a few small lifestyle or behavioral tweaks – it’s a total overhaul, a complete remodel, an exhaustive alteration. It’s turning your life upside down and shaking the loose change out in order to start anew in the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. The beauty of the Gospel hides in the supernatural, in that the Gospel does for us what we could never do for ourselves, namely, clothe ourselves in holiness and righteousness and walk with the Lord and follow him to the ends of the earth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 goes as far to say that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” When we meet Jesus, we change. We become someone who we were not and who we could not become on our own. We become new men and new women. Not a new version. Not an upgrade. An entirely new creation. The disciples were once tax collectors and fishermen. They became the founders of the early church and fishers of men. Paul persecuted and killed Christians. He preached the Gospel to the nations.
And yet, when I look at the church, I find myself asking why we still wrestle with sin and war with the desires of the flesh? Why do we lack in joy, hope, peace, and the fruit of the Spirit that supposedly lives inside of us?
We have not put on the new self. We do not understand the Gospel power that is at work within us. When we come to him and we put on the new self, we no longer hunger and we no longer thirst (John 6:35). If we hunger and thirst, then we must ask ourselves, “Do I know him?” Those who know and love him keep his commandments (1 John 2:3, John 14:15, 23).
The power is in the knowing, not in striving. To reduce this mysterious, deep, and genuine transformation to mere moral striving cheapens the true worth and nature of the Gospel. We ARE a new creation in Christ. Striving is of the Law. But we are not of the Law, because we are set free in Christ.
Ephesians 4:20-24 explains, “But that is not the way you learned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Oh, the beauty of that which proceeds from a pure knowledge of him! Our new self is sealed with the renewal of our minds as we reflect the image of God through our righteousness and holiness, which is not burdensome, but rather a joy.
Throw off the old man today and put on the new. Stop striving and start living in the holiness and goodness of the blood-bought freedom of Jesus Christ by the fullness of God which dwells richly inside of you. Let that transform you.
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Jared Odenbeck

Jared Odenbeck is a professional soccer player from Charlotte, NC. Jared graduated from Wake Forest University in December 2016 with a degree in English and Journalism. His greatest desire for his writing is that it would awaken the western Church to pure Gospel-centered truth and recapture the essence of unadultered Christianity.

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