Resolved to know Christ this year and to live by the Spirit
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
We have a new year coming up, and some people make resolutions. I don’t like resolutions. But this is mostly because I have an ADHD kind of mind (as I have probably said I few times, I was officially diagnosed as a kid). That means, I don’t tend to stay focused for more than 30 seconds on anything. That is one reason I preach from a manuscript, although I think I’ve trained myself to focus a little better. But I have all these interests and miniature hobbies Ami could tell you about. I want to be a cheesemaker on the side, a barista, a chef, a master gardener, and so many other things. My allergy to resolutions could be problematic, resolutions may be a helpful thing toward the goal of loving God and others. But problems can happen in various ways- maybe another stream of people make resolutions but neglect the main things like even their family or their God.
What should we be resolved for then? This next year, I want to encourage you to make a resolution to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything else. It means for us to live the blessed life, we must begin with knowing Christ. And the person who knows Christ crucified knows his benefits. Ephesians 1 is a wonderful little meditation on this, the benefits of our union with Christ. For more thoughts on that, you can go back to my devotions of September 2020. If you don’t get the weekly email, I’ll post them on the website. We are described in Ephesians 1 as ‘in him.’ In him we’re redeemed, forgiven, we’ve received an inheritance. In him, we believed, and we were sealed with his Spirit. These are monumental truths that we should take time to consider and meditate on. How can I, a sinner, apply these truths to my life? What does it actually mean to be forgiven? How can I live as redeemed even while I struggle with temptation to sin? I think the rest of Ephesians deals with this. Think of, ‘Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.’ Or maybe, ‘Therefore take up the whole armor of God.’
What I am especially encouraged by is something a little more heady, but I think it gives us a strong confidence. I just read an article on this, and I want to acknowledge I’m in the beer league here, so I might not articulate these things perfectly, but I think the point stands (the article in case you're curious is Filioque and the Divine Missions by Adonis Vidu). It is in relation to being sealed with the Spirit. In theology, we talk about the missions of the Son and the Spirit. The missions are specific sendings of the Son and Spirit that relate to God’s perfect, simple, and unified work of redemption. The missions are separate from any operations of the Spirit or the Son before these missions. So the Spirit is said to be over an Old Testament person (say Saul), and this is different from the Spirit being sent to the church. We see the difference in the Ephesians passage: we were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Each elect Christian was sealed by God’s Spirit at conversion. Now you might say the Spirit could come and go like the Old Testament, like in the instance of King Saul. I think that is wrong. Instead, the sending of the Spirit (his mission) is most similar to the sending of the Son (his mission). And we see a distinct permanence to these sendings. For how long will the Son be incarnate? How long will Jesus have human flesh? The answer is that he will retain his flesh into eternity. His incarnation is permanent. Because he has earnestly desired to redeem humanity, he added humanity to his person and this mysterious hypostatic union will forever be his choice: for our sake, to God’s glory. It is a condescension we cannot and will not ever fathom. He died for us, the ungodly. And if the sending of the Son has permanence, then so too does the sending of the Spirit carry with it a permanence. To be sealed with the Spirit is to know (with a right spiritual knowledge) God and his salvation for me. In other words, don’t think you are struggling alone. Instead, know that God has sent his Spirit permanently to you to indwell you and to accomplish the redemption that he bought through the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. This spiritual indwelling isn’t like Saul who seems to have fallen off the deep end and whom the Spirit indwelt almost to his judgment. Instead, the Spiritual indwelling of God’s people, his elect, is for our redemption, into the ages, to the praise of our God forevermore.
So this year, resolve to know Christ and him crucified. Resolve to live by the Spirit, not gratifying the desires of the flesh. Resolve to stand firm against the trickery of the devil, and find your greatest satisfaction in knowing Christ.