When you received Jesus, you received a new identity. The old is gone, yet you are still becoming who you already are, awaiting this transformation's fullness. This is a paradox that we can't fully understand. When we think things should be different than they are, we become discouraged. In this episode, I give you six tips for living in the tension of the already but not yet.
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You are listening to The Happiest Lives Podcast with Jill Lillard. Episode #3.
Hello, everyone. Today I want to talk to you about a concept I learned about in my 20s when I was going to seminary working on my counseling degree, and it really stuck with me, I think it's very applicable as we study becoming who we already are. It's the concept of “The Already, But Not Yet.”
In Scripture, the kingdom of God is described as both a realm presently entered and as one entered in the future. What this means is when you accept Jesus, you are immediately transformed. As a Christian, you have already been made new, the old is gone, and you wait in anticipation of that change. You have not yet experienced the fullness of your salvation.
If you want to read about your adoption into God's kingdom, go to Romans 8. It tells us that already the Christian has been adopted into God's kingdom, becoming an heir of Christ. And it tells us that we have not yet been adopted. In fact, we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
In Ephesians 1:7, we learn that in Christ, we are already redeemed, and yet we await the day of redemption when we will be saved.
I Corinthians 1:2 tells us that we are already sanctified in Jesus and set apart. In I Thessalonians 5:23-24, we are not yet sanctified, as we wait for our complete sanctification when Jesus returns.
Ephesians 2:6 tells us we were already raised with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms. And in I Corinthians 15:52, we have not yet been raised, rather, we anticipate that day.
This paradox is so fascinating to me, it reminds me that my concept of time and being is so limited by my human understanding. So just like I can't understand the paradox of Jesus being fully man, and fully God, or that the Trinity is three persons in one, or that God is fully sovereign, and yet I have free will, I cannot truly understand this concept of the already, but not yet.
However, it fills me with excitement, reminding me that our existence is beyond a realm we can fully understand as we serve a supernatural God. So even though you and I have mortal bodies, that means we're moving toward death decay, we are also immortal. Until our flesh dies, we will not step fully into our complete spiritual self. I believe Scripture shows us the more we feed the spirit, the more we will experience the victory of Heaven. The more we deny the flesh, the more we step into the joy of our salvation.
This is not based on our efforts, our works. Rather it is about having a relationship with Jesus and participating with him in our salvation. A relationship is living and dynamic, it is always fresh and relevant. We are already, and we anticipate who we are becoming.
Ephesians 4 tells us to put off our old selves and be made new in the attitude of our hearts as we put on the new self. Galatians 6:7-9 reads, "do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever one sows, that will he also reap, for the one who sews to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. And the one who says to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." What we sow in life matters.
Living in the already but not yet means that believers are called to live in the tension of these two realities. There's the present reality of our salvation and the future hope of its fulfillment. And so, how do we live in this tension?
In practical terms, living in the already but not yet, means that believers are called to hold on to hope, even while suffering, and to live with a sense of expectation for the future. It also means recognizing that they are part of a larger story that began before them and will continue long after them. Ultimately, living in the already but not yet means trusting God's faithfulness and living with a sense of purpose and mission.
So here are some practical ways to live in this tension.
The first one is to embrace the present without becoming attached to the blessings. While we wait for the fulfillment of God's kingdom, we can still experience His love, grace, and presence in the here and now. Cultivate gratitude and joy in your daily life. Consider the relationships and the pleasures of life, the beauty that surrounds us, the beauty of all that God has created, food, he has given us drinks, he has given us, that those are gifts to be enjoyed, without making them idols in your life, enjoy them as a foretaste of heaven, acknowledging their limited ability to satisfy you. Let this remind you that you aren't yet home.
Number two, hold on to the promises. While we may experience suffering and challenges in this life, we can hold on to the promises of what will come. So each wave of sorrow, let that be a bridge to the Lord's love and presence. We can trust in God's goodness, knowing that he is faithful and will never stop being good to us as long as we look to him to satisfy our needs.
Number three, live with purpose. While we wait for the fullness of God's kingdom, we participate in His work of redemption and restoration. We are partners with God. So seek to live with purpose and make a positive impact in the lives of those around you. Live a life of worship, exalting God with all creation, and share with others about his goodness.
Number four, take Declare-Actions reprogramming your brain to live a life worthy of your calling. And in last week's podcast, we talked about taking Declare-Actions despite unwanted emotions. When we are willing to align our thoughts and emotions with his, we will experience greater peace and joy in our lives.
Number five, be defined by Jesus, not your sin. In Romans 7:15-19, which actually I think I'm going all the way through 24 here. We read, "For I do not do what I want. But I do the very thing I hate. It is no longer I who do it. But it is sin living in me that does it. I know that nothing good lives in me that is in my flesh, for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. So I find it to be a law, that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God and my inner being. But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. What a wretched man am I who will deliver me from this body of death?"
Shew. Here we see Paul, laying out the plight of mankind. And he asked a question, why do I do what I do not want to do? And notice in verse 17, that response, "it is not I who does it, but it's sin, living in me." From this, I understand that sin is not who I am. Paul then asks, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" And the answer is Christ. When I see sin in myself, God's kindness leads me to godly sorrow and repentance. Repentance leads me to joy and peace found in a relationship with him.
Because of Christ's love, and our relationship with Him, we are redeemed and made perfect. Sin no longer defines us. Remnants of the flesh are reminders that we still live in this fallen world, the already but not yet, however, the flesh no longer defines us. It's not who we are. I love that. I rejoice that my sin does not define me. And because Jesus defines me, I shift my focus off myself and onto him because sin is not who I am. There is no room for guilt, shame, or condemnation. I love to remind myself that the ways I disappoint, the ways I miss the mark, the ways I don't show up, the ways I sin, those things are not my identity. My identity is so much more than that.
And the last tip I want to give you for living in the already but not yet is to feed the spirit and starve the flesh. I am responsible for feeding the spirit in me. And only when I feed the spirit do I experience the fruit of the Spirit. I must engage to bear the fruit.
Joanna Weaver compares the battle between the flesh and the spirit to the old Cherokee story of the two Wolf's in his story, a father tells his son that two wolves are fighting inside all of us. The first one is evil. The second one is good. The boy asks which wolf will win, to which his daddy answers, "the one you feed."
You can feed your mortal self, your flesh. Or you can feed your immortal self, your spirit. It's up to you. When I feed his spirit, living inside me, I rejoice that I'm forgiven, loved hovered. And from this place of security and freedom, I discover I'm lovable no matter what love and grace are always available. My love for others fall short until I experience that grace for myself, until I received the love God gave me in my lowly estate, I can't experience feeling that same love for others.
When I realize that sin is not who I am, and I step into the spirit, I can also see that sin is not who my husband is or who other people are. My husband is more than that. He, too, is defined by his creator. So whether he steps into that identity or not is his choice. And I cannot choose that for him. But I can love him when I see him as the Lord does. And whatever loving him looks like, love always feels victorious, peaceful, and kind.
So remember living in the tension of the already but not yet, is having a relationship with Jesus. Seek to trust God's promises and cultivate peace and contentment amid life's uncertainties.
Until next time, Consider it all joy, and have a beautiful week.