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I am continually amazed at the number of people who assume that the Christian life is one of “giving up” present enjoyment in the hope of some vague future gain. What is even more amazing—and pitiful—is the number of Christians who hold this same view.
Has no one taught them? Have they not read God’s Word for themselves? God’s Word abounds with examples of the riches which become mine when I believe on Jesus Christ. Not “someday,” but at the moment I believe. Not “in the sky,” but right here, right now.
Consider just a few of the things that God says belong to His sons and daughters. According to God’s Word, right now we are:
- justified, made righteous, by the blood of Christ [Romans 5:9]
- reconciled to God [Romans 5:11]
- free from condemnation (the guilt of sin and its penalty) [Romans 8:1]
- light in the Lord [Ephesians 5:8]
- the people of God, and have obtained mercy [I Peter 2:10
- God’s children [I John 3:2]
What riches! And many more items could be added to the list.
With so much that is ours now, why do so many Christians struggle with feelings of inadequacy or unrighteousness? One reason is that they have not been taught these things (or perhaps not taught enough to realize what these things mean to my life, right now.)
Another reason is that, though these things which God has given are real, there is another reality about which God also informs us. The Bible calls it “the world” (meaning not the planet, but the world-system, the society and culture of man without God). The world denies that which cannot be measured by the senses. It calls out for the Christian to forsake a life of faith and to embrace the tangible. And some Christians choose to do just that.
II Timothy 4:10a
Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…
The word translated “present” in this verse is the Greek word nun, usually translated “now.” Right now (and for now) this world seems very real. Through pressures and pleasures, it endeavors to seize our attention, and thereby to remove us from a walk of faith. Meanwhile, God tells us that it is not His promises, but rather the claims of the world which are truly uncertain.
I Timothy 6:17
Charge them that are rich in this [nun] world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
Clearly, a choice must be made. We desire to put all of our trust in God, but how can we resist something as real as the “now world?” With something more real.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present [nun] world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Grace teaches us how to live in this “now world” and God has provided something further to help us remain strong in the teaching of grace: a blessed hope. You see, both the things of God and the things of the world are indeed real now. But both will not be real forever!
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption [sonship— right now!], whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God [right now!]: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ [right now!]; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Yes, all of these wonderful things are ours right now. For now, they may be accompanied by suffering, but there is a glory coming, promised by God.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present [nun] time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
How wise our Heavenly Father is! He has provided great riches for His children who are in the world, and has also given us a promise of greater glory to come, in order that we might stand steadfast in this world, continuing to employ and enjoy all that is ours, right now.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.