Romans 5:10 is a key verse, for it concludes one section and opens another. This verse covers both the reconciling death of Christ and the saving life of Christ. Reconciliation includes redemption and justification. Christ died on the cross for our redemption; through redemption we have been justified by God and reconciled to Him. Now there is nothing between us and God. However, we still have a number of subjective problems. For this reason, even after we have been reconciled to God, we still need to be saved in Christ’s life. Because reconciliation through the death of Christ is an accomplished fact, in 5:10 Paul used the past tense with respect to reconciliation. But because we are still in the process of being saved in life, Paul used the future tense when speaking about being saved in the life of Christ. In this message we shall consider the matter of being saved in life from individualism.
In the book of Romans Paul dealt with seven negative things from which we need to be saved. As we have seen, the first item is the law of sin. Within our flesh, our fallen body, the law of sin works spontaneously and automatically. This law of sin is the power of evil that operates spontaneously within us.
The second negative item is worldliness. We were born into a worldly environment and then raised to be worldly. Worldliness is in our very being; hence, it also is a subjective matter, a matter of our constitution. There is no need to teach a child to love the world, for there is something in his nature that causes him to love it. The love of the world is an element of our fallen constitution.
The third item is naturalness. We all have a natural life and a natural disposition. Our very constitution is natural. All these natural elements are enemies to God. God has nothing to do with our natural being, our natural life, our natural strength, our natural disposition, or our natural power. These natural elements are deep within our being, much deeper than the law of sin. The law of sin is related mainly to our flesh, but our natural being is our self. For the sake of God’s purpose, we need to be saved in the life of Christ from our naturalness.
We also need to be saved from our individualism, that is, from being individualistic. Because we all have the tendency to be individualistic, none of us naturally like to be one with others. Our married life exposes how individualistic we are. Because we are individualistic, a wife does not like to be dependent on her husband, and a husband does not like to be dependent on his wife. God’s intention is not to have a group of individualistic believers. On the contrary, it is to build up the Body for the fulfillment of His purpose. In order for this purpose to be carried out, we need to be saved from individualism.
The life of Christ also saves us from divisiveness. Although we talk a great deal about oneness, we actually do not like to be one. To be one is to be restricted, bound, and eventually put to death. Where is the oneness in today’s Christianity? Throughout the centuries, there has been a shortage of oneness among Christians. Instead of oneness, there has been division upon division. All divisions come from the element of divisiveness in our fallen nature.
The sixth negative item from which we need to be saved is self-likeness. By self-likeness we mean the appearance and expression of the natural self. We need to be saved from self-likeness by being conformed to the image of the Son of God. In so many respects we do not yet have the likeness of Christ. Instead, we bear the likeness of the self. Therefore, we need to be saved in life from self-likeness and conformed to the likeness of the glorious Christ.
Finally, we need to be saved from our natural body. Eventually, in God’s full salvation, our body will be glorified. The day is coming when our physical body will be transfigured.
As a complete sketch of the Christian life and the church life, the book of Romans firstly reveals the matter of justification. Because justification issues in life, the section after the section on justification deals with life. Life leads to the building, which is covered in the last part of Romans. Therefore, the book of Romans may be summarized in three words: justification, life, and building.
Neither justification nor life is God’s goal. God’s goal is the building up of the church as the Body for Christ’s expression and as the house for God’s dwelling. For this reason, the book of Romans begins with justification, goes on to life, and concludes with the building. As those who have been saved, redeemed, justified, and reconciled, we are not idly waiting for the Lord to come back. We are being built up in the church life for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Beginning with justification, we must go on to the experience of life in order to reach the goal of the building. Unless we experience life and have the building, the Lord Jesus does not have a way to come back.
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