Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians while in Ephesus after he heard of some issues plaguing the church. The issues Paul deals with in 1 Corinthians are the same issues we deal with today, which is why this is such a good book for the modern day church to study.
However, before Paul dives into the issues, he reminds the Corinthians, and subsequently us, of who we are in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 1:2 Paul writes:
“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:2)
Based on 1 Corinthians 1:2, the second thing we learn is that:
(2) Those who are in Christ are free from God’s punishment.
If we are going to be God’s people, who are on His mission, something has to have happened so that we are free from God’s punishment because in our natural state we are sinners, who deserve God’s wrath, not His grace and mercy.
What is a Sinner?
I am sure you have heard that word — sinner — all your life if you have been in the church and probably if you haven’t been in the church.
What it simple means to be a sinner is that you have rebelled against God. As our Creator, God has the right to tell us how He wants us to live. We, however, don’t want God to tell us how we are to live. Instead, we want to call the shots, we want to direct our own lives. When we place ourselves in the drivers seat, we are living in rebellion to God. In other words, we are living as a sinner.
Bad News/Good News
The bad news is everyone is born and lives as a sinner, which means we all deserve God’s punishment. The good news, however, is that those who are Christians are free from God’s punishment.
How is that? How are we freed from God’s punishment?
In verse 2, Paul tells the Corinthians that they are
“…sanctified in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:2b)
And then in verse 3, we learn Christians have received God’s
“Grace…and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 1:3)
Finally, in verse 8, Paul says Christians will be:
“guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:8)
These verses come together to tell us Jesus frees us from God’s punishment.
How exactly does Jesus free us from God’s punishment?
You can think of it like this: On March 11th 2014, Glenn Ford was released from Angola State Prison. He had spent the last 30 years on death row, awaiting his day of execution. His day, however, never came. Instead he was set free because the courts realized he was an innocent man, who hadn’t committed the crime of which he was convicted. So instead of facing the death chamber, he walked off death row a free man never having to fear being put to death by the State again.
Christians, like Mr. Ford, have also been set free from death row and no longer live under the threat and fear of God’s punishment. However, unlike Mr. Ford our freedom wasn’t gained because God received new evidence of our innocence. We are and have always been guilty of rebellion against God and deserve His punishment. So we weren’t set free because our innocence was proven. Instead we are set free because Jesus took our seat on death row and died in our place.
What a wonderful thing that is — because of Jesus’ sacrifice we now experience freedom from God’s punishment and we have peace with God.
You Can Experience Freedom and Peace
The way you can enjoy freedom and peace with God is simply by believing you are a sinner who needs a Savior, and Jesus is your Savior. He is the One who died for you to take the punishment you deserve.
When you believe that, when you confess that, and when you repent of your sins to follow Jesus, you will experience the same freedom and peace that all other Christians experience.
So if you haven’t repented of your sins and professed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, do so today. Don’t wait any longer. Experience God’s freedom and peace today. Quit living under the fear of punishment. Quit living under the uncertainty of not knowing if you have done enough to please God. Turn to Him today and experience freedom and peace.
Question for Reflection
- Have you turned to Jesus?
- Do you long for freedom and peace?
- Are you uncertain about your eternal future?
Post adapted from my sermon Who Are We In Christ?