There’s a lot more to salvation than being forgiven.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Reigning as Kings
As I am writing this, we are in the fourth week of the Coronavirus pandemic. For Christians, this is a time to refine our faith, and to learn to walk in victory in the midst of a worldwide upheaval. In the last five verses of Romans 5, we discover the abundance of grace that has already been poured out on us for such a time as this. Paul is urging his readers to walk in this grace so they can reign as kings, not only in the coming kingdom, but right now. Here’s how Paul puts it:
For if by the trespass of the one (Adam), death reigned-as-king, much more those accepting the abundance of grace and of the free-gift of righteousness, shall reign-as-kings in life through the One, Jesus Christ! (verse 17)
Satan is deathly jealous of the Church of God, which is already in the heavenlies, from which he is soon to be cast out. He knows that the Church will share Christ’s throne and soon will reign with Him in indescribable glory. Therefore, he will blind us, if he can, to our present place of royal power of life in Christ. Imagine your regret, if at Christ’s coming, your life on earth was characterized by doubt, defeat and depression rather than by victorious reigning in life in Christ.
Sadly, most Christians’ understanding of justification stops at having our sins forgiven. If that’s all that happened, our standing before God would be as an unrighteous guilty person who was allowed to go free because someone else paid the price for us.
What is offered to everyone through Christ’s act of righteousness at the cross is not only a cancellation of our guilt (forgiveness), but life in the Risen Christ. Through our identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, our old life died with Christ and was replaced by the life of Christ Himself via the Holy Spirit. Paul calls this a “justification of life.” The risen Christ now residing in us has become our “standing” before God. We are complete in Christ (Col. 2:10) and He has become our righteousness-our standing. We have exchanged our sin for God’s own righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). This is what some call the “exchanged life.” This is where all the action is. This is the life in which we reign as kings.
Paul keeps making the point that where sin abounded, grace overflowed in super abundance. God lavished these gifts on His children (true believers in Jesus Christ), so that just as sin reigned as king through death, grace would reign as king through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Verse 21). God’s goal was that where death once had a kingdom, grace would now have its kingdom. We are, therefore, to reign as kings in this kingdom right now, dispensing to others the overflow of the grace which has been poured out on us.
AS I SEE IT
Our challenge is to move beyond understand to application. We must learn to reign in life as kings. It’s not something that hits us all at once and presto, we’ve got it. Even Paul admitted that he wasn’t completely there yet, but he kept pressing on toward the prize (Phil. 3:12-14). God takes us through whatever “seasons” are necessary. The end product is too wonderful to be rushed. It may take a lifetime to fully appreciate why the old man had to be crucified. Sometimes God must take us through prolonged seasons to teach us that apart from abiding in Christ, we can’t accomplish a thing of value to God.
Only then will we see the flesh as disgusting and reprehensible, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we must learn to walk in the Spirit every moment or our lives. The concept is clear. We will reign as kings in this life as we walk in the Spirit and deny the flesh. Doing it is the hard part. We may know that everything in our spiritual lives has already been done for us, but our flesh is always there, tempting us to do something to prove our worth and improve our standing.
The reigning Paul is talking about requires no work on our part. It’s all about walking in the Spirit, but it’s not a walk of works. It’s more like the cable cars of San Francisco. Below the streets and out of sight are hundreds of cables that are constantly moving in a pre-determined direction. The conductors of the cars simply pull a lever to connect the cars to the moving cables. Each car simply gets pulled along.
God is like the cable, always at work (John 5:17). We’re like the car, unable to fulfill our purpose on our own. As we choose to walk in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit connects us to our cable and we get pulled along wherever the cable takes us. We always have the ability to connect to or disconnect from our power source. Staying connected is the only way we can reign in life as kings regardless of what’s happening around us. Reigning is staying connected.
As we try to grasp the whole process of how it works in real life, our first response is to make it all about us and our new position, but as Christians our focus should be on others and our responsibility to be a dispenser of grace. As kings, we are in a position to ensure that grace is not only present, but that it reigns in the kingdom. Therefore, we can’t reign as kings without being a dispenser of grace. Some kings reign with power. We are to reign with grace, and the key to actually living like kings is surrender:
The more we allow Christ to reign in us,
the more He will reign through us.