As professing born-again Christians, we claim to cling to the cross of Jesus, or the gospel, as our source of deliverance from sin. But we often compartmentalize God’s deliverance/salvation thinking that the gospel saves me from the penalty of sin (eternal judgment in hell) providing me a secured future in heaven (often thought of as some kind of Christian nirvana), but in order to be truly delivered from the power of sin in this life I need another source. Most professing Christians would not suggest that the Gospel or cross is powerless. However, when a person clings to anything other than the cross of Jesus Christ and redemption through God’s grace alone not only for their eternal salvation, but also for their temporal deliverance (salvation) from temptation, habits, thoughts, and behaviors, he is stripping the gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of the cross of any real or lasting power. That may seem strong and so maybe that last statement should be qualified. I am suggesting that the professing Christian is intentionally attacking the gospel, but any pattern of thinking that diminishes any aspect of the power of the cross is indeed defying the work of Christ in full redemption.
This way of thinking is conformed to this age, this way of thinking says, “I need the gospel for eternity, but I also need my therapist, my counselor, my pastor, my breathing techniques, etc…” you get the idea. In essence this pattern of thinking is void of true rest in the cross as my sole means of deliverance from all of my sin–the penalty, power, and eventual presence of sin. Romans 12:2 shows us how we deal with the habits, temptations and struggles of this life in a cross-centered way. “I urge you brothers, be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you might prove the good, well-pleasing, and complete will of God.” When we were regenerated by God’s grace, our souls, minds, and hearts were bathed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We looked to the cross for our deliverance. We rested in Christ, our Sabbath, as our only means for deliverance, salvation, from our sin. But as this world seeks to squeeze us into our former way of thinking (that thinking that believes that we need God plus something to be delivered), we will only grow in grace, being continually transformed in our minds and subsequently increasingly conformed to the likeness of the character of Jesus Christ, which is making us fit for heaven as our minds are being continually renewed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Or to put it a little less verbose. When we continually meditate day and night on the cross of Christ, the theology of the Gospel, the mysteries of redemption, ever increasing our delight in God by training our minds to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly being filled with the Spirit of Truth we are being refreshed in the cross that delivers us from sin and we will be gaining personal victory with the thoughts and habits that are godless. There is a means of sanctifying grace in the earnest pursuit of God through the Word of God, especially the New Covenant truths of the Gospel.
We cannot be saved from the eternal penalty of sin through earthly means, strong willed commitment and moral fortitude. But neither can we be saved from our temporal habits, addictions, temptations, and sinful behaviors through the tools of this age and the pattern of thinking of this world. Our justification, our sanctification, and the certainty of our glorification is found in renewing our minds, conforming our pattern of thinking to the gospel. This is cross-centered deliverance. So consider this, Christian, what we put into our minds, what we think upon, and how we align our thinking has a profound effect in living a life of victory in a God-hostile world. One reason we don’t orient our thinking in this way, is that we want immediate deliverance from the struggles of the flesh. But if we will genuinely meditate and immerse ourselves in the realities of the Gospel, think Divine thoughts concerning redemption, sin, salvation. If we meditate upon the atonement of Christ, the promise, and the covenants, we will find ourselves delighting in the greatness and absolute perfect deliverance of our sovereign God, and this will gradually transform our minds to God’s way of thinking.