Tag Archives: the gospel

The Fight for Your Identity

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What kind of tree am I anyway?

Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.

          This is an amazing formula for faith, and a great example of the faith principle in Romans 4 of “calling things that are not as though they were.”

Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

          The quotation in Romans 4:17 refers to Genesis 17:5. God spoke this over Abram when He was 99 years old and childless. At the same time God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. In changing the names, God forced them to say the same thing about themselves that He had just said about them. Abraham means, (“Father of a multitude,” Sarah means, “Mother of nations.”) In the name change, God was showing Abraham and all who would follow after him, the principle of faith that God Himself operates by. He speaks things into existence.

          Let’s apply this to the good and bad tree.

          If you see a tree that has apples and avocados growing on it, what would you call it? An apple tree? An avocado tree? A hybrid? Would you just make up a name? The truth is, you wouldn’t know what to call it.

         The Bible says in Isaiah 61:3 that we are “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.”

          When we look at ourselves and behold the fruit of our lives, we see our mistakes, our bad habits, our inconsistencies, our failures, our secret sins, and we think “I must be a bad tree.” But then we look closer and say, “Wait a minute, not all the fruit in my life is bad. I help people, I am faithful to my church family, I serve in different areas in the ministry, I love people, I am generous with my time and resources, so not all the fruit in my life is bad. I am confused! What kind of tree am I?”

          We see the good and bad fruit in our lives and gravitate towards walking by sight and living by feelings. The Bible says that we are NOT to live our lives this way.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

          We cannot allow our physical senses to dictate our identity. We must set ourselves in agreement with what God has spoken about us and not be moved by our feelings and our fallen experience. What we see, feel and experience must never be a consideration in light of what God has said about us. Abraham, the father of faith, has set the example for us.

Romans 4:19-22 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

          Abraham refused to consider the weakness in his flesh, but was fully convinced that what God said about him, God would bring to pass.

          So the question is: What has God said about us?

Romans 5:17  For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

          God says that He has made us righteous, holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. Although we may not look like that in our sight we must not consider what we see and believe what He said about us is true.

          How we refer to ourselves, the words we say about ourselves should align in agreement with what God says about us. When we begin to speak what God says about us, the grace of God is released in our lives to transform us into what He has spoken. When we align our words with His words, the fruit of what He said will start growing in our life. This is how we make our tree good. This is how we fight the good fight of faith. This is what produces transformation in our life.

          The Old Testament is full of stories about natural battles. We must look at those physical battles and learn how to apply them spiritually to our lives. For the most part, we see two ways that God calls his people to battle.

  1. He gives His people specific instruction on what, when and how to conquer the enemy. When Gods people follow the instruction, He is with them in battle and the victory comes easy.
  2. He tells His people to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He fights the battle for us and the victory is ours.

         When fighting to be free from our sin nature, to live righteous and holy, we tend to try and do this by our own works. We struggle against our sin, our bad habits, wrong thinking and destructive cycles of failure and disappointment. This type of behavior will only produce a sin consciousness that insures failure. The Old Testament has already proved that no one can become righteous by works.

          Submitting to the authority of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us places us in a powerful position to be transformed and overcome the sin nature. We must call ourselves righteous and holy, believing that He is at work in us to bring that to pass. We follow Abraham’s example and call things that are not manifest as though they were.

           Confess that you are righteous, confess that you are holy. Thank God for freeing you from sin and transforming you into His image. And if you stumble and fall, run to God and say “I am sorry Father that is not me! That is certainly not You in me! I thank You for the Spirit of grace that is transforming me and shaping me into Your image, removing that junk from my life and molding me into everything You have created me to be. Thank You for fathering me! Thank you for loving me, for believing in me, for being patient with me. Thank you for completing the work that you began in me. Where would I be if You didn’t father me.”   

 hold fast         This is a good example of biblical confession. This type of confession sets you in agreement with His work and His plan for your life. This will produce the fruit of righteousness and holiness in your life.

          In the battle for our identity we are supposed to follow the example of our father Abraham and set ourselves in agreement with His word, letting the Spirit of grace shape us and mold us into His image. We are not to consider the weakness of our flesh, but stand strong in faith, trusting that God is able to bring His word to pass in our lives.

So hold fast to the confession of who you are in Him and trust that He will complete the work that he began in your life.

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Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

The Importance of Prayer

        It has always been God’s plan to operate through man when dealing with the affairs of the earth. The earth is owned by God, and always has been. But, He gave man control over the earth for a season, to govern and take dominion. God gave man authority over the earth. Man gave away this authority to the devil, bringing sin and death to creation, separating us from God, and cutting us off from our birthright as sons of God.

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        Jesus Christ has abolished the things that separate us from God, restored our birthright, our authority on the earth, and our ability to take dominion over the power of darkness and destroy the works of the devil. We have a responsibility to exercise and execute this restored authority so that God’s plans and purposes for the earth can be fulfilled.

1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

        Prayer is simply man exercising his legal authority on earth to invite God’s influence on the planet. Because God will not violate man’s will or His own word, God waits for man to pray so that he can act on our behalf. Prayer is not optional. It is essential for the fulfillment of God’s purpose on the earth. Prayer gives God the right to intervene in man’s affairs.

        In the Garden, Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. This is our model for prayer, walking with God. Getting to know Him, discussing man’s mission, his stewardship, his fruitfulness, his potential. Man gets in trouble when he’s not there to meet with God and pray. Adam’s sin, and his new felt shame, guilt, and condemnation made him run and hide from God. This is the response of a sin conscious mind. Though Jesus has restored us all, like Adam, many are still silent and hiding.

        The greatest aspect of prayer is our ability to be with Him. He is our Father and we must know Him as such. Let nothing keep us from approaching Him in prayer. If we want God to act on our behalf we must pray.

JC

The Gift of Righteousness

  giftof right        How do we become righteous, holy and blameless in His sight? The simple answer is “by faith,” but what does that look like? How do I exercise faith to become what God says about me?

        Salvation, grace, righteousness. These are all gifts. Not something we deserve, not something we work towards. These are gifts, they cannot be earned, they must be received.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

        We don’t seem to have a problem believing that Christ has made us all these thing positionally, we have a hard time believing that we ARE these things ACTUALLY.

        God said He made us righteous. This is not just a declaration of our position in the Kingdom of God and our right standing with the King, but also a promise to become righteous in thought and deed. We tend to follow Abram and try to help God out by trying to do good, behave better, sin less, etc. and in doing so, we become so aware of sin and conscious of our own shortcomings and our ability fail, that we walk around with a sin consciousness and actually war against the grace of God that is meant to change us.

We must believe that God has made us righteous, not just in theory, not just positionally, but actually righteous in behavior and thought, even in the face recent, or even ongoing sin.

        By believing this, we are actually laying ourselves down on the great Potter’s wheel so that grace can mold us and shape us into that very image. This is not a denial of sin, nor does it accommodate sin.

 Romans 5:17  For if by the one man’s  offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

        God’s word contains the creative power within itself to become a reality if we will set ourselves in agreement with it. This takes the stewardship of our thoughts and words, speaking only faith and refusing to speak words of doubt and unbelief.

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        Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is not biblical grace. God’s grace never encourages us to live in sin; nor does it make room for us to stay the same, on the contrary, it empowers us to change so we can say no to sin and yes to truth.

 

Faith To Become What Jesus Paid For

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          What are you using your faith for? To receive a blessing, or obtain your healing? To lead your family to Christ? To build a business? To get out of debt, or prosper financially? These things are all well and good but they must not be the main focus and predominant use of your faith.

          Falling into the trap of believing for “stuff” is a common occurrence in the body of Christ. We get so caught up in applying faith principles to all areas of our life that we forget, the primary role of faith is to be used in our relationship with our creator. More specifically, we should be exercising our faith to become what He paid for us to be.

We should be exercising our faith to become what He paid for us to be.”

          The primary use of the phrases, “the faith, or the gospel,” in the New Testament always refers to your imputed righteousness, and the good news that you are now free from the curse of the Law and free from sin.

           “The Gospel,” refers to the good news that Peace has been made between God and man. We can now come before God without guilt, condemnation, or shame.

          “The Faith,” refers to our belief that we are righteous sons, regardless of our past or present performance. When we present ourselves to God as holy by faith , it produces the fruit righteousness and holiness in our lives with the help of Holy Spirit. It opens us up to divine influence (grace) that causes transformation. It places us on the potters wheel so He can shape us into what He paid for.

           The Church has reduced “The Gospel,” to meaning, “good news that we don’t have to be sick or poor any more,” and “The Faith,” has been redefined as a method of getting our barns and vats full.

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

          Not understanding what “The Gospel” is, and believing that faith is a vehicle to get the things we need from God, is a subtle deception of the enemy to keep us focused on who we were, and not on becoming what He paid for us to be.

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Don’t get too busy dwelling on who you were

and miss believing to become what He paid for.

 

 

JC

 

 

 

The Word was God!

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THE WORD WAS GOD!

Just take that in for a minute…..

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

         So, “in the beginning was the word,…”

          What is a word? Why was Jesus called “The Word?” Why are words so powerful? Why, according to Proverbs 18:21, is death and life in the power of the tongue? We see in this first portion of John the incredible creative power that the word possesses.

WORD def:

“A word is a physical expression (by verbal, written, or other actions) that carries ideas and “CREATES IMAGES” The very nature of the word shapes the image that it produces.”

GOD def: Merriam Webster,

the supreme or ultimate reality: such as

1) the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.

2) a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically: one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality.

         If the Word is God, then God is the Word, then both definitions should accurately describe both the Word and God. If these definitions are not interchangeable in our minds, then our understanding of God and His Word are lacking.

The Gospel? ~poem~

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What is the gospel and what does it mean?

Have we made the good news into something obscene?

Is it good news of blessing, prosperity, and healing?

This candy-coated gospel seems very appealing.

 

We’ve abandoned the message that our Lord has conceived

And embraced a gospel that has left us deceived!

Where did we miss it, was it one certain sin?

Or did we allow a little leaven to creep in?

 

It didn’t take much to stray from what is true,

A self-serving gospel has perverted our view.

Repentance is the answer, it’s the only decision

That will help us restore God’s original vision.

 

The gospel is the message that Christ did conceive,

Our sin for His righteousness, if we’ll only believe!

Accept what He’s done, and believe what He said,

Let Christ live in you, and your old man be dead.

JC

Here is a link to more poetry on this site. Enjoy!

The Righteousness of God – pt.3

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Righteousness has a Voice

Romans 10:6-13 (NKJV) But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say?The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

          Righteousness has a voice, a specific way of speaking. There are laws that govern the way righteousness is expressed verbally. If we adhere to these laws it builds a stronghold of faith and we become established in righteousness. This, in turn, produces the fruit of holiness in our lives.

          Notice in the above passage that the first thing righteousness does… is to NOT SAY in your heart. Words are not used in this instance but our thoughts and actions tell what we are saying in our heart.

          When we act like sin still has a hold on us, that it still has a stain, a voice, a judgment, and an impact, we act as if the sacrifice Jesus made was not enough. This is garden variety unbelief. It stops the grace of God from molding and shaping us into His image. Notice, this is done without speaking a word, simply thinking we are less than what God paid for, saying in our heart that we are not worthy,(condemnation) believing we are still sinners, (shame) thinking we are worthy of judgment (guilt). This is the very definition of having a sin consciousness. This is the same consciousness of sin they had in the Old Testament because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away their sins.

Hebrews 10:2-4 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

          The good news is that the blood of Christ CAN take away our sins, and HAS taken away our sins. Past, present and future! Glory to God! He took our sins to the grave AND LEFT THEM THERE! We should do the same, becoming dead indeed to sin, leaving our old man buried with Christ.

Romans 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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          To “reckon” means to think, or imagine. How we think about ourselves determines how we act and how we speak. When our actions and words speak against righteousness, it produces a sin consciousness and is an affront to the work of the cross.

          When it comes to operating in faith, it is just as important to know what NOT to say, as knowing what we SHOULD SAY. Faith always has a voice, a specific language. When we align our speech with the language of faith it makes our faith active, alive and fruitful. It activates grace and all of its transforming power in our life.

          The importance of our words are stressed throughout the entire bible. We have the same type of creative ability that God has. In fact, we are co-creators with Him. He has given us the building blocks, the raw material if you will, of His word. When we put His word in our mouth we release creative power.

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         The righteousness of faith only speaks what God has said about us. It only speaks of our Son-ship, our righteousness, our position as an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ. It speaks of us being holy and blameless children of the King. It doesn’t even acknowledge the old dead man. Not with our thoughts, not with our actions, and certainly not with our words. Look at this passage a little closer;

Romans 10:8-12 But what does it say?The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

          What does the righteousness of faith say? …THE WORD! Specifically, THE WORD OF FAITH.

          We have made Romans 10:9,10 the “go to” scriptures that we share with people when we are convincing them to give their life to the Lord. Unfortunately, we have reduced this to just praying a prayer to go to heaven someday. When we read the entire passage, we see that it is not talking about saving us from hell, but saving us from the law of sin and death. Its emphasis is more about living a transformed life than it is going to heaven. Look at verse 10 again.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.

          We are capable of believing ourselves into actually living righteous and holy. Not by doing, and not doing, not by works, and struggling to live right, but by submitting to the finished work of Christ.

“We must start where He finished and believe Him to produce the fruit of holiness in our lives, even in the face of sin.”

          If we really believe that what God said is true, we will confess that it is true, and this leads to salvation. Salvation from what? From sin and death, from the carnal nature!

          Yes, we are saved from hell, but the entire book of Romans is about living unto righteousness and being free from sin and its effects. It is about being alive to God and embracing the work of the cross. It’s about us becoming who God created us to be. It’s about us being transformed into His image.

          How does this transformation take place? How do we die to sin and come alive to righteousness? By speaking righteousness, by the spirit of faith, and with the power of words!

Before we learn how to speak, think about this:

          What is a word? Why are words so powerful? Why, according to Proverbs 18:21, is death and life in the power of the tongue?

“A word is a verbal or written expression that carries ideas and creates IMAGES. The very nature of the word shapes the image that it produces.”

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          If I say; “Black Labrador Retriever with a red collar,” I just put a specific image in your head. You took what I said, you processed it through your memory and experience, and it produced a specific thought/picture in your mind. It produced an image!

          We must have a preconceived image already present in our thinking for images to form. Unfortunately, we have so much memory and experience of our fallen, carnal nature that these images tend to dominate our thought life and make up our minds in advance that this is who we really are. Jesus didn’t die for us to remain the same and someday go to heaven, He died so that we could be transformed into His IMAGE, so that God’s original purpose for mankind could be restored in you.

          If we read the Bible, keep it before our eyes and in our thoughts, we will have a good idea of what the image of God is because Jesus was the express image of God.

The whole reason He was able to redeem man from sin was that He was the Image of God.

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

          We see in this verse that Jesus was not only the express image of God, but He upheld all things by His word. This means that, among other things, the image of the Father was upheld in Him by the power of His words. God’s image IN YOU is upheld by the power of His word SPOKEN BY YOU!

          This brings us full circle, back to our original text in Romans 10. We looked at what the righteousness of faith doesn’t say, now let’s look at what the righteousness of faith DOES say.

Choosing a Master

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Romans 6:19-22 (NIV) I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

          We see in this scripture that being a slave to righteousness, in other words, serving the master of righteousness, yields the fruit of holiness without you trying to be holy! Glory to God! This way the Lord gets all the glory, and no one can lay claim to being a “Super Christian.”

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          We are to be DEAD to sin, but ALIVE to righteousness. The one we choose to serve (verse 19), sin or righteousness, causes us to be dead to the other. If we are alive to sin, we are “free” from the control and influence of righteousness. The results are death according to Romans 6:20. However, if we present ourselves as an offering to serve righteousness, we are free from the control of our carnal sin nature (verse 22). This enables the etching tool of God’s grace to mold and shape you into what you are believing….RIGHTEOUSNESS!

          We cast our vote for who will be our master by our confession. Confession means to agree with, to acknowledge, to say the same thing as. We must acknowledge and agree with what the Bible says about us if righteousness is to be our master.

          Righteousness must be appropriated by faith, not by works. The righteousness of the law DOES, but the righteousness of faith SPEAKS. The law is about doing, whereas faith is about believing and speaking.

2 Corinthians 4:13 (NKJV) And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,

          It’s not enough for us to understand the concept of righteousness and mentally agree with it, we must open our mouths and SPEAK IT. LET THE REDEEMED OF THE LORD SAY SO!

Psalm 107:2 (NKJV) Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

          It doesn’t matter how many books we’ve read on righteousness, or how many sermons we have heard. We must believe it and speak it if we want it to become a reality in our lives.

          If we sin and fall short of the glory of God, we must not respond like Adam, hiding and blaming others for our mistakes. Instead, we run to God and say something like; “I thank you Father for exposing that act of sin and helping me to see that it is not who I am. I thank you Father for paying the price for sin and clothing me in your righteousness. I thank you for delivering me out of the kingdom of darkness and translating me into the kingdom of your Son Jesus. I am free from sin and death and I thank You for Your great mercy. Where would I be if you didn’t love me and Father me? I am so thankful that you redeemed me.”

          When we respond to sin like that, God’s grace acts as an etching tool to mold and shape us into His image. We are saying in our heart that we submit to His transforming work of grace and we believe that He is working on us to produce the fruit of holiness in our life, removing even the desire to sin. This is how we become righteous conscious.

           When the righteousness of faith speaks like this; it shuts the door in the enemy’s face and prevents him from seducing us into condemnation, guilt, and shame, producing a sin consciousness.

“Once you know who you are, you can’t be seduced by who you were.”

           Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters. We must be consistent in the confession of who we are in Christ, even in the face of falling short. Habitual declaration of our right standing with God gives no entrance to the enemies deception.

        When we get attacked by the devil, he is never after the NEW man because he is no match for someone who knows who they are IN CHRIST. He is after the “OLD” man (that should be dead) so he can resurrect old things, old habits, and old thoughts, to disturb the new man, and trick him into giving up his dominion, keeping him from flourishing and producing the fruit of holiness. This is what happened to Adam.

        Don’t let a moment of weakness, or a misstep, or a hundred missteps, break the habit of your declaration of righteousness. Hold fast to your confessionn and God is faithful to continue and complete His transforming work in you. Your confession of righteousness keeps the potter’s wheel spinning, and His shaping hand of grace on your life.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

           In conclusion: God has forever removed the barrier of sin. He has, through the offering of His Son Jesus, gained us access to His transforming power by making us the Righteousness of God IN CHRIST. He did this because we are so valuable to Him. He did this so that we may enter the sanctification process and be restored back to our created purpose, His image. He did this because He loves us.

Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.