When we put our faith in Christ sufficient substitutionary atonement for our sins, God declares us righteous in his eyes. Believing that, identifying with that, and appropriating that into our psyche is the first step of walking with Christ. It leads to all of the other graces of God – holiness, love, courage, hope, and abundant life – all of which require a similar process of identifying with what God says about us and then letting him align our behavior with our new identity. Identification always precedes imitation. We are to imitate Christ, and accepting and identifying ourselves with the faith, hope, and love that he gives us allows us to live as he did, even as we learn that when we imitate Christ, it is actually Christ himself living through us.
We want wisdom – we find out that Christ is our wisdom. We want to be righteous – we find out that Christ is our righteousness. We want to be holy – we find out that Christ is our holiness. We want to live an abundant, satisfying life – we find out that Christ is our life. Then we find that courage we may lack; we find that kindness which is in such short supply; we find satisfying relationships with The Father and our fellow man; in short, we find everything that we need or could possibly want in our identification with Christ. We share his name. We experience his suffering. He calls us his friends and brothers. We will see him face to face and forever share in his glory and his kingdom.
We may end up very frustrated in life if we try to live a good and moral life in our own strength. For instance, God’s word does say that we should be holy, but it adds “for I am holy” – a plea for us to identify with him. Paul wrote that we should not be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. Holiness for holiness’s sake will fail; holiness for Christ’s sake will succeed. Happiness for its own sake will likewise fail; only a Christ centered life alone will yield enduring happiness.
Ultimately, our covenant with God is not so much that he wants to rehabilitate our life as much as it is that he wants to exchange lives with us – we give him our life and he gives us his.
We give him our pain, and he gives us his comfort; we give him our confusion and he gives us his clarity; we give him our unrest and he gives us his peace; we give him our emptiness, and he gives us his fullness; we give him our ignorance, and he gives us his knowledge; we give him our heart, and he gives us his heart. We give him our mind and he gives us his thoughts.