Defaulting to Righteousness
Day after day, week after week, and year after year, Melinda came to the church office to rehash her list of most recent failures. Despite declaring her faith in Jesus years earlier, Melinda’s life did not bear the distinguishing marks of transformation the Bible promised in verses like 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
That didn’t look like Melinda’s life at all. Instead, she was at the mercy of the same old habits and the same old sin that tormented her before she came to know Jesus in the first place.
How come Melinda’s life didn’t change? How come our lives aren’t victorious? Aren’t they supposed to be? Are we still at the mercy of our old sin nature even though we’ve trusted in Jesus and seek to obey him? How do we stand in the tension of having been saved by faith in Jesus, but being pummeled by old temptations and old habits?
This doesn’t seem like the freedom Jesus promised.
Last week I spent three days at work wrestling with a new printer. It is supposed to print using Wi-Fi but, alas, it refuses to communicate with my computer through any of the networks assigned to us. After several unsuccessful attempts to make the printer and computer play nice, I realized I had to reset the printer back to any factory defaults if I wanted to use it at all. Eventually, I reset the defaults, bought a $5 printer cable, connected it to my computer, and voila, it works great!
Defaults. All computers and printers have them. People have them too.
If left unchecked, I can default to my old sin nature.
When I’m stressed, I am tempted to control. When I’m angry or hurt, I can withdraw. When I’m afraid, I might default to worry. When I’m tired, it’s easy to default to being critical. We all have defaults and ways of coping with the challenges life throws at us.
Spiritually, we have defaults as well. Because we were born with a sin nature, the “default from the factory setting” for all of us was set to sin. Without Jesus, we were sin’s prisoner and were not free to obey Jesus. In fact, before we trusted in Christ and received his Holy Spirit, we were not even capable of following and obeying Jesus on our own.
Jesus stepped into history to rewrite our story and set our lives into his new context of grace and forgiveness. In the Gospel of John 8:36, Jesus says,
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
For those who have put their trust and faith in Jesus, this status change also comes with new “default” settings. Instead of defaulting to sin like before, we can now default to righteousness. We are free to obey, instead of being held captive as a prisoner of sin.
Jesus said, “We will be free indeed.” So, how come many of us don’t experience the freedom Jesus promised?
I believe it is because our Christian culture has told us it isn’t possible and we believed it. We have magnified our failure and reduced our understanding of Jesus’ power to help us be overcomers. Our breakthrough to true freedom may be as simple as believing what the Bible says about it.
Just look at some of the promises we’ve been given!
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32 NASB)
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14 NASB)
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2 NASB)
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].” (Romans 8:37 AMP)
The reason I didn’t walk in victory was that I didn’t know I could!
I know that sounds totally simplistic. But until I realized that I was no longer obligated to my flesh or the temptations Satan threw my way, I continued to stumble my way through old patterns of defeat. Once someone told me I didn’t have to do that anymore, the grip sin had on me melted away and I drew near to God in ways I have never known.
Do we truly understand and believe the power of Jesus’ transforming work in our lives? Or are we letting our culture define who we are? Do we believe the amazing promises the Bible has given us? How I wish I had learned to walk in the truth of Jesus’ words earlier in my life instead of living in the shadows of my sin and failure for 30 years.
Our default settings have been reset to righteousness. Let Jesus rewrite your history based on that truth and see if you don’t experience the transformation Jesus promised and you long for!
The driving passion of Donna’s life has been to invest her time and her heart in the lives of younger women as a mentor. When she isn’t teaching a Bible class or screaming down some zip line at a youth camp just to prove she can, Donna is sitting across the table at a coffee shop listening to the hopes, hurts, and dreams of others. Donna believes the only thing more rewarding than chasing one of her own dreams is to aid and abet someone else in fulfilling theirs.
Donna is a graduate of Biola University in California. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education with a minor in Biblical Studies, an emphasis in youth, and a specialization in discipleship development. She presently serves as the director for Women of Ministry at her church in Colorado.