It's Already Yours
It's Already Yours
My maternal grandparents lived in a small fishing village in Pittenweem near Edinburgh in Scotland. They owned a house there. In 1939, at the start of World War II, they let their home to tenants. When the war ended, they wanted to return to their home but they were unable to. The law at the time allowed the tenants to remain in the house for as long as they lived, at approximately the same rent (with no adjustment for inflation!).
For fifty years my grandparents were unable to get possession of the house they owned. My uncle inherited the house from my grandparents. By the time he got possession, the condition of the house had deteriorated greatly. He sold it for a very small sum.
Although my family owned this house in Pittenweem, they never took possession of it. There is a big difference between ownership and possession.
The people of Israel had been given ownership of Canaan, the Promised Land. Now Joshua says to the Israelites, ‘How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land…?’ (Joshua 18:3). The New Testament presents the ‘land’ as a picture of the Christian life (Hebrews 4). You need to understand what is already yours in Christ and then take possession of it.
1. The gift of righteousnessProverbs 10:31-11:8
Do you realise that God has given to you the gift of righteousness? Have you taken possession of this gift?
The writer of Proverbs contrasts ‘the wicked’ with ‘the righteous’. Wickedness will lead to destruction – ‘the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity… the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness’ (11:3b,5b). Most significantly of all, wickedness is undone by death: ‘When the wicked die, their hope perishes; all they expected from their power comes to nothing’ (v.7).
On the other hand, ‘righteousness delivers from death’ (v.4b). This is one of the arguments the apostle Peter uses about Jesus on the Day of Pentecost – righteousness cannot rot: ‘It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him’ (Acts 2:24).
No one is totally righteous except Jesus. Righteousness means right relationships, both with God and with other people. We receive this righteousness from God as a gift by faith (Romans 3:22; Philippians 3:9) but we have to take possession of it. We have to live it out.
In this passage we see some examples of what this means.
‘A good person’s mouth is a clear fountain of wisdom; a foul mouth is a stagnant swamp. The speech of a good person clears the air; the words of the wicked pollute it’ (Proverbs 10:31a,32a, MSG).
‘The stuck-up fall flat on their faces, but down-to-earth people stand firm’ (11:2, MSG).
‘The integrity of the honest keeps them on track... a principled life can stand up to the worst’ (v.3a,4b, MSG).
‘Moral character makes for smooth travelling... Good character is the best insurance’ (v.5a,6a, MSG).
Lord, I take possession of your gift of righteousness by faith. Help me to live a life of wisdom, humility, integrity and faithfulness.
2. The gift of the Holy SpiritJohn 1:29-51
Are you enjoying everything Jesus has made possible for you? Or are you still feeling guilty and powerless? Jesus came to bring forgiveness, new life and the power of the Holy Spirit to you. Make sure you take possession of what is already yours, today.
In this passage we see a remarkable sequence of the titles given to Jesus. We have looked at a number of them before. Jesus is the ‘Son of God’ (vv.34,49), ‘Rabbi’ (v.38), ‘Messiah (that is, the Christ)’ (v.41), ‘the one whom Moses... and about whom the prophets also wrote’ (v.45), ‘King of Israel’ (v.49) and ‘Son of Man’ (v.51).
I want to focus particularly on two titles in this passage that describe the ministry of Jesus.
- Lamb of God
The blood of the lamb saved the Israelites from slavery and allowed them to walk in freedom to the promised land (Exodus 11–15). John says of Jesus, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). As you come to Jesus, he takes away your sins. Claim, trust, believe in the forgiveness bought for you. Actively reject feelings of guilt, shame or unworthiness. It is a proactive, practical, daily choice to take possession of the forgiveness that Jesus has made possible for you.
- Spirit baptiser
John the Baptist describes Jesus as ‘the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit’ (v.33). Jesus fills you with his Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus has made possible for you. However, you have to take possession of the gift that God has made available for you.
Jesus invited Philip, ‘follow me’ (v.43). The Greek word for ‘to follow’ means not only ‘to walk in the footsteps’ but also to accompany, to be with. Jesus invites you, too, to a deep, personal friendship with him.
Jesus also gives you the opportunity to do what John the Baptist did – to point others to him. Of course, God does not need a human agent. Jesus could continue his ministry without our help. However, we see in this passage how God uses people. Here it is not only Jesus who calls others directly, but his disciples.
They bring their friends to Jesus: John the Baptist introduces Andrew (vv.35–36); Andrew introduces Peter (v.41) and Philip introduces Nathanael (v.45). Nathanael was suspicious at first, but then he came and immediately found that Jesus really was the Son of God (v.49).
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, wrote a commentary on John’s Gospel. When he came to the words ‘and he [Andrew] brought him [Simon Peter] to Jesus’ (v.42a), Temple wrote a short but momentous sentence: ‘The greatest service that one man can render another.’
Simon Peter went on to be one of the most significant influences in the history of Christianity. You may not be able to do what Peter did, but you can do what his brother Andrew did – you can bring someone to Jesus.
Or, just like Philip, you can say ‘come and see’ (v.46) to your friends, family and work colleagues. You can be a part of God’s plan for people to hear about and respond to Jesus as you invite them to ‘come and see’.
I have found that there is nothing more exciting in life than being involved in the ministry of Jesus. It is so gracious of God to involve us, imperfect human beings, in his perfect plan.
Lord, help me today to enjoy this gift of forgiveness and the fullness of life in the Holy Spirit. Help me also to introduce others to you – to invite people to ‘come and see’ (v.46).
3. The gift of your inheritanceJoshua 17:1-18:28
Is there some area of your life where you are still not enjoying your inheritance in Christ?
The land was the inheritance of the people of God (17:4,7; 18:7,20,27). ‘Joshua addressed the People of Israel: “How long are you going to sit around on your hands, putting off taking possession of the land that God, the God of your ancestors, has given you?”’ (18:3, MSG).
Here, once again, we see the great difference between ownership and possession and enjoyment of the land. Israel was given the ownership of the land before they took possession and enjoyment.
When you follow Jesus you become his friend. You receive forgiveness, justification, the righteousness of God and the Holy Spirit. You become a child of God. You have power over sin and access to God. You have victory over demonic powers. You have peace with God. You have authority over evil in your life and the lives of others. All the promises of God belong to you. This is your inheritance in Christ.
But you may not always, necessarily, take possession and fully enjoy the blessing of all these things in your life. Here God says, in effect, to his people: ‘Don’t you realise I have given all of this to you? What are you waiting for?’
You may have given your life to Jesus, but have you allowed him to possess every aspect of how you live – your finances, work, prayer life, friends and family. In my experience this is a lifetime task.
St Paul writes that you need to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). In some areas the victory may be immediate. In others it may be more gradual. You have to drive out even the little pockets of resistance.
As Israel received the land as a gift from the Lord (Joshua 18:3), so you and I have received, in Jesus, every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). The question is, ‘How long will you wait before you begin to take possession’ of these gifts? (Joshua 18:3).
Lord, thank you that you have blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Help me today to take possession of what is already mine by faith through Jesus.
‘“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.”’
Jesus sees you wherever you are and whatever you are doing. You are known by him.
William Temple, Readings in St. John’s Gospel, (MacMillan, 1952).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
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