Words are powerful. Nothing else has the power to destroy or heal, to build or tear down, to mend or rip apart. In fact, just two words have powerfully changed my life.
I would guess that you’ve heard some of those yourself. Even now, just reading the words on the screen, those two little words bring a flood of emotion and memory. You remember where you were standing, what you were wearing, what day it was when you heard them.
A mere two words can have a powerful effect on who we are and who we become. They can shape our destiny by calling us to greatness or destroy our lives by shaking us to the core.
When we read the New Testament there are two words that summarize all of the Christian life. Within these two words is the power to change the direction and shape of our destiny. These words look back on our lives before we knew Jesus, look in the mirror at our lives with Jesus now and look ahead to our eternal life with Jesus.
Throughout the New Testament these two words are used seven times, calling us to celebrate the ending of the war at the hands of our Savior but urging us to continue fighting battles until the very end.
Christian, without these two words your life wouldn’t be changed. You wouldn’t be saved. You wouldn’t have cause to celebrate or any eternity to look forward to. We would all be dead on arrival were it not for these two words.
Seven times in the New Testament these two words describe all that Christ has done for you and what your new life with him looks like. They tell you who you are in Christ.
You are Welcomed
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:10
You were once standing outside the door, miserable, cold and lonely. Then you knocked, and the door opened. There stood Jesus, not with a look of disapproval but holding a towel welcoming you in. You were once outside, BUT NOW you’re welcomed in.
You are Alive
21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:21-23
Once you accepted his invitation and came in, there was so much more. In place of your wet rags, you were given fresh clothes. The mud was washed from you and your hair was dried. You were once covered head to toe in dirt, BUT NOW you’re clean and warm and safe on the inside. You’re alive.
You are Righteous
20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:20-22
After getting cleaned up, the mess is just a memory. You left a trail of muddy footprints down the hall when you entered, but then you were washed and your wet, dirty rags were destroyed. You used to be separated from God because of the way you lived, BUT NOW God only sees you through the blood of his son Jesus. You aren’t a sinner. You are righteous.
You are Free
While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. Romans 7:6
Maybe you’ve seen the extravagance of being cleaned over and over and over. Maybe you’ve felt embarrassed that you just can’t seem to follow all the rules right. This new place you’re in, it’s full of every good thing you need, but the outside world still calls you. You used to respond to it, hearing the call and going along, BUT NOW instead of the outside world clinging to you like mud, no dirt can stick. You’re Teflon. You’re impervious. You’re Free.
You are Adopted
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—Ephesians 5:8
You never had a family like this. You grew up hurt and forgotten. You made your way on your own or followed people who led you into dark places. You used to be alone, BUT NOW Instead of being a dirty rugrat ignored and forgotten, you’re the beautiful, cleaned up child. You are adopted, a child of the King.
You are Reconciled
12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13
When you were on the outside, maybe you knew about God. You just weren’t sure you would be allowed in. You used to think you should get cleaned up before knocking. So you disqualified and discounted yourself not understanding God, BUT NOW you’re inside his house and God wants a relationship with you. It’s not enough that he’s brought you in, but he wants to have a relationship with you. You used to be distant, BUT NOW you’re embraced. You are reconciled.
You are Exonerated
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian. Galatians 3:23-25
From now on when God looks at you, he doesn’t see “sinner”. He only sees his son Jesus who died for you. You were once guilty, BUT NOW and forever you are innocent of all charges. You’re released from the eternal jail cell your sin earned. You’re free from the Jailer who wants you dead. You’re free from the Prosecutor who calls you guilty. You stand before the Judge, knowing full well all the accusations against you. The gavel comes down.
“Innocent of all charges!”
But now. Let the power of those words sink in. Let them nourish your souls and salve your wounds. Let the power of those words change how you see yourself. You are a precious child of the living God, a son or daughter of the King.
We have been bought at a price. The free gift of life we get through the blood of the Lord Jesus turns the “back then” of our sin into the “but now” of grace. There are no more powerful, life-changing words than the “but now” of a life in Christ.
How different is your life with Jesus from your life without him? Mine is radically different. Please comment below with your thoughts on the “but now” of your life.