Much of my growth as a Christian came from discovering what God thinks of me. From the time of my conversion I had a hunger to know about God, but I thought he was disappointed in me. How could God like me? I couldn’t get free from some sins, and my insecurity kept me from meaningful Christian service. Over time, I began to see how a biblical concept introduced to me at the beginning of my Christian life was the path to freedom.
I needed to see myself not as I thought, or rather feared, God sees me, but as God truly does see me. The command of the apostle Paul in Romans 6:11 to reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ was the lens that corrected my vision.
Reckoning is counting on something to be true. To reckon in the biblical sense is to think as God does and agree with what he says. We can count on God’s word being true, and the Bible says plenty about the status of a believer in Christ. When I began to reckon those things being true about me, something powerful happened.
What does God say about my identity as a believer in Christ? Can I think of myself as righteous? Having trusted in Christ for salvation, am I still to think of myself as a sinner? How does God view me in relationship to him? How am I to think of Satan’s influence over me? Answers come as we look to the Bible and think or reckon on its truths.
Our culture avoids the issue of sin and people generally don’t like to talk about it or read about it. Taking in your hands this book intended to help people conquer their sin shows that you are willing to go against the cultural grain. More power to you!
Chances are that the Holy Spirit is active in your life, because it is he who convicts of sin and guides to holiness. Be encouraged that your interest in this subject is itself a good thing.
If you seek from this book help to conquer your sin, you are on a good quest. If your goal in conquering your sin is to live a life more pleasing to God, that is an excellent desire. And if you want to learn what God is passionate about so you can make his passion your passion, you have arrived at the best motivation of all. As Paul the apostle says, we reckon not only that we are dead to sin, but also alive to God (Rom 6:11)—alive to his purpose for us.
My purpose in writing this book is to help you do all these things by thinking biblically about God, yourself, and other believers. This book is not a testimonial or personal account of my own experience, about which I say only a little. It does illustrate reckoning in the life of a young believer, but the book’s focal point throughout is God’s trustworthy Scripture.
You will discover that reckoning plays a key role in sanctification. Sanctification, if you are new to the concept, is the process by which believers become more like Christ in thought, word, and deed.
I titled the Summary “A Model for Reckoning.” Because this model does not fit neatly within one of the traditional models of sanctification—Reformed, Wesleyan, or Holiness—perhaps it will help you to know some of the assumptions I hold about sanctification. This book adheres to a New Covenant or New Creation model of spirituality (2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:8–10; Eph 4:22–24). Here is what I believe:
Sanctification is for the believer a lifelong process of transformation into Christlike character, most purely expressed in voluntary, self-giving love.
Victory over sin is never complete and the believer this side of heaven is never free of temptation, but Christians can live in relative freedom from sin.
Sanctification is a cooperative activity of both God and believer, the outworking of divine grace and human effort.
The Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer primarily by making God more attractive and sin less so. The third member of the Trinity both warns against sin and directs eyes to the beauty of Jesus Christ.
The Bible is alive with the power to cleanse from sin and promote growth.
Sanctification involves not a contest between two natures (old man versus new man), but rather a life lived in alignment with the Christian’s true identity—a born-again child of God with a new heart from which springs the desire to obey God.
Passivity is a form of self-sabotage. The believer must commit to a ruthless assault on sin and enforce the word of God in one’s life.
Positive conquers negative in the biblical conception of the sanctified life. Walking by the Spirit overcomes deeds of the flesh, virtues replace vices, love for Jesus deflates love for the world, and service to others negates self-centered introspection.
These principles are the themes of this book, and now that you hold it in your hands I invite you to read on and discover the power of biblical reckoning. Learn what God thinks of you as a result of what he has done for you.
Once you see yourself as God sees you, I am convinced by God’s authoritative word that you will turn increasingly away from sin and fall more passionately in love with the Father and Jesus the Son.
“The most powerful of all spiritual forces is man’s view of himself, the way in which he understands his nature and his destiny, indeed it is the one force which determines all the others which influence human life.”
—Emil Brunner, Swiss Theologian