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Keeping in Step with the Spirit Part 20: No Plan B

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 (NIV)

God had only one plan for salvation—Jesus and the cross. There is no Plan B. As Jesus gave up his life, he announced, “It is finished!”—Not “Is it finished?” When humans ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and declared independence from God’s reign, they acquired a penalty, a bill of death. That bill was now paid. Nothing more would ever be required of anyone. Jesus finished what we call the work of salvation.

‘No Plan B’ is not just about being saved from the penalty of sin. It also includes being saved right now from the power of sin, and someday being saved from the very presence of sin. The scope of all that is Paul’s point for the Galatian church. It is finished. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24 NIV)

In other words, we have no other pathway to righteousness. There is no plan where the flesh can be relied on for back up. It’s dead. The flesh—our human effort—died with Jesus on the cross. It is finished.

Paul explained this is greater detail in Romans 6:1-7 (NIV). What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

When we put our faith in Jesus, we died to our old life. Paul explains it as believers actually joining in the act of Jesus’ crucifixion. Our baptism put us in the grave with him in the same way that Jesus’ resurrection delivered us into a new life. The flesh had to die because otherwise it would pull us back into death.

The flesh did die. It was crucified. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are set free. It is finished.

Nothing is worse than living a lie, even if it is a pretty lie. The gospel is never Jesus plus anything. The gospel does not equal the requirements of a previous covenant that God made with Israel. God declares that in Jeremiah 31:32. The gospel has no external laws—only laws which God Himself is writing on our hearts and minds.

It is not good for believers to live in confusion about what God has done for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is not good to place limits on God’s salvation as if it only gets us through the door into Jesus’ kingdom and then we have to fight to stay in there by our best efforts. We do not even have a snowball’s chance in Death Valley if that is what salvation is all about.

This brings us back to keeping in step with the Spirit. We have only Plan A going forward—surrendering to the Spirit’s leading. Paying attention to his direction and leaning into his power. There is no Plan B because God put His Spirit in us to take charge. It is not up to us to bull our way forward in some holy kind of way. The part of ourselves that we depended on for that is finished.

If you have been confused about this, ask God to clear up your mind. It is the Spirit’s job to lead you to all truth (John 16:13). Trust God’s Plan A over the best substitute any religious leader ever offers up to you as a replacement.

-Steve Smith