Are You Suffering from Gospel Amnesia?
As believers, it is possible to live our lives from a wrong perspective brought on by gospel amnesia. If Christians do not understand or misunderstand what it means to be a child of God and operate from the premise that they are at best only forgiven sinners whose primary desires are still toward self and sin, then they will be forever baffled and beaten by problems and pressured into conformity to the world’s system.
John Piper observes, "In Paul's thirteen letters he almost always begins by telling us who he is in relation to God and who we are in relation to God. This is quite different from what you see on television. Automobile commercials want you to think of your life in relation to things you have. Beer commercials want you to think of your life in relation to the brotherhood at the pub. Life insurance commercials want you to think of your life in relation to your family with touching scenes of childhood and graduation and marriage and first home and first child. And a hundred soaps and deodorants and shampoos and foods want you to think of your life in relation to your body.
"But the Bible is relentless in this one thing: it calls us back again and again, not to deny the existence of things like cars, or friends at the cafe, or families, or our own bodies, but to give these things their true meaning in relation to God. The Bible defines everything in relation to God. Everything has its true significance or insignificance in relation to God."
The Truth of Our Identity as Believers
Paul uses this phrase “do you not know” 6 times in chapter 6 and 8 times in 1 Corinthians. (1 Cors. 6:2,3,8,15,16,19). In the first 3 uses in chapter 6, Paul is asking, “Have you forgotten who you are?” In 6:15,16,19. Paul is asking, “Have you forgotten whose you are?”
What Paul Knew About Himself because of the gospel - 1:1 - "Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus." Paul knows who he is - He's Paul, with his thorn in the flesh, with his Romans 7 failures, with his persecutions and sleepless nights, and with his undaunted faith in the Son of God who loved him and gave himself for him. He knows why he is here - to be an apostle of Christ Jesus - one sent off on a designated mission for the King of glory - a spokesman with inspired authority. And he knows how he got here - by the will of God.
He knows where his identity comes from - from a God whose will governs the world and guides the affairs of men. He knows where he is going - to speak the truth for the King of kings and call men to submit to his lordship over every area of life and then dwell in the Father's Presence forever.
What God Wants for All His Children - 1:2a, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” The good news of the gospel is that the same kind of solid, strong, clear self-understanding that Paul possessed is available to every believer.
A tremendous stability comes into your life when you let the Bible define who you are in relation to God rather than letting the world define who you are in relation to things, groups, denominations, political parties, and your body. To know where I've come from in relation to God, and where I'm heading in relation to God, and where I stand now in relation to God, will set me free to be the unique me I was created to be. It will liberate me to life and from being the slave of fads, fashions, or finances.
Virtually every one of the first nine verses of 1 Corinthians chapter one is intended to help us know who we are in relation to God. Paul looks back to the past to define where these Christians came from. He looks at the present to see what their experience is as Christians. And he looks to the future to see what they can be sure of as Christians.
How do you get over gospel amnesia?
Realize Our Former Status as Sinners has been Replaced With that of Saints! – 1 Cors. 6:9-11, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
When we lapse in our true identity as a saint of God, the answer is not to learn a new one, but to recall and relearn and get realigned with the new and forever one provided in the gospel. Our identity is not ours to form; it has already been formed for us and given to us as a grace gift in Christ!
But you were washed, sanctified, justified: God’s great work for us in Jesus Christ is described in three terms.
- 1. You were washed: We are washed clean from sin by the mercy of God (Tit_3:5). We can have our sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord (Act_22:16). We are washed by the work of Jesus on the cross for us (Rev_1:5) and by the Word of God (Eph_5:26).
- 2. You were sanctified: We are set apart, away from the world and unto God, by the work of Jesus on the cross (Heb_10:10), by God’s Word (Joh_17:19), by faith in Jesus (Act_26:18), and by the Holy Spirit (Rom_15:16).
- 3. You were justified: We are declared “just” before the court of God; not merely “not guilty,” but declared to be “just” before Him. We are justified by God’s grace through the work of Jesus on the cross (Rom_3:24), by faith and not by our own deeds (Rom_3:28).
In line with the gospel, suffering wrong and being defrauded by another believer is not supreme! WHY?
Because Christ bore the ultimate injustice in our place. He endured the wrong that we ought to have endured. He was defrauded of what was rightfully His to give us what we could never earn or deserve. If He took our sin debt, absorbed all our attacks and rejection, then when others do the same to us, we get an opportunity to practice the gospel’s grace and truth. This is the essence of forgiveness and reconciliation.
As a Christian, and in relationship to other Christians, I am to go on believing and relying upon the Gospel. I am to daily and consistently believe that the Holy Spirit will enable me – a sinful person – to be repenting of my sinful, selfish ways and treasuring God in Christ continuously! When I fail to do this, I devalue the Gospel. If my life is dull and drab, defeated, depressed, and distressed, without joy and peace, I betray the value of the Gospel. How? Because the essence of the gospel - the kingdom of God - is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Roms 14:17).