We Can’t, But He Can

In Romans 8:1 Paul tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Our salvation is not based on us but on what Christ has done for us, in us, and through us. Paul says, “There is no condemnation for Christians.” If you’ve given your life to Him, everything has changed! You will still have the same battles Paul had, and you will still struggle with fleshly temptations, but now Christ has secured you eternally by sending His Spirit into your life that is the mark of the new covenant.

I am encouraged that the apostle Paul struggled with the same things I struggle with. His flesh was no different than mine. It’s one of the few things I have in common with Paul! I think Christians often tend to deify the apostles and the prophets; however, they were just ordinary people like you and I are. The fact that they had struggles encourages me. I look to see where they found their answers, and I realize that where they found their answers is the same place I can find answers. Paul had to keep dying to his flesh. He had to say no to what the flesh wanted by learning to say yes to Christ and then letting the Holy Spirit take command of his life. Then he became the vessel through which Christ could do His work. That’s the whole key: Christ lived His life through Paul. It was not Paul living like Jesus and trying to do things for Him, but it was Christ living through Paul. That is the key to living the Christian life.

That’s why I call this principle “the Christ life.” We have to realize that we can’t, but He can.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” It is His life living in me.

If I hold up my coat and say, “Sleeve, raise yourself,” that sleeve will not do anything. There is no life in the coat to enable it to do what it needs to do. But when I put that coat on and say, “Sleeve, raise yourself,” then the sleeve rises up — not because of the coat, but because of the life that is in the coat. That is exactly what Paul is saying in the book of Romans—our lives are like empty sleeves, and Christ fills them. It is Christ who is living in me.

Think about the words Paul used to describe a believer’s life in Christ:

• “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
• “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
• “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

These statements form a foundation for understanding grace as a product of our new birth in Christ. He lives in us to enable us to do what He has commanded us to do. Previously I was under the law and condemned by it, but now I’m no longer under the law. I’m under grace. Christ lives in me. He enables me to do what He has commanded me to do. A believer has to grasp this concept if he is to ever become mature in the Lord. He has to come to the end of himself and start realizing what he can’t do before he can grasp what God can do in and through him. This book isn’t just another step-by-step process that promises instant maturity, but an encouragement for believers to see their relationship with the Lord in a new way.

The Christ life is not merely trying some new plan for spiritual growth; it is learning to live out of His power. It is learning to appropriate the power of God and put it to use for His glory.

Wayne Barber with with Chip MacGregor, Living Daily in God’s Grace (ATRI Publishing, 2012), 13,14.

Previously published as The Rest of Grace by Harvest House Publishers, 1998. The free PDF ebook is online and downloadable here.

About Dr. Wayne Barber (1943-2016): “For fourteen years, Wayne served as co-teacher with Kay Arthur at Precept Ministries. During that time, he had the great honor of studying with Dr. Spiros Zodhiates and co-hosted the national radio and TV program, New Testament Light. He was president and founder of Living Grace Ministries. He co-authored the Following God Bible study series published by AMG Ministries and authored several books… www.waynebarber.org/

Posted in