The Perfect Christian

Is there such a thing? Of course not. That’s why Jesus came:

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father… Gal. 1:3, 4. NKJV

The world doesn’t get that. It wants to crucify you as well, when you come up short. They want to see you fall. One of the ways that they do that, is by trying to dilute your faith:

…there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Gal. 1:7 NASB

In fact, no one, on their own, is perfect in anything. So, we needn’t be perturbed by the opinions of the ignorant, with regards to of our spirituality. We know that we can become a perfect Christian in God’s eyes because of the cloak of righteousness that Jesus provides to all His followers. We also know that on this earth, we are humans who make mistakes. Thank God that we aren’t judged by them (because we are made immune to His wrath through our continued faith in Christ, and our continuing practice of confession and repentance:

…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ… Gal. 2:15 ESV

There isn’t anyone who could live in perfect obedience to all of the Mosaic laws. We slip and fall – repeatedly. So, we do our best to obey those that we can, and humble ourselves before Christ for the ones we can’t:

For through the Law I died to the Law and its demands on me [because salvation is provided through the death and resurrection of Christ], so that I might [from now on] live to God. Gal. 2:19 AMP

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Gal. 2:20, 21. NASB

The apostle Paul speaks of the ‘curse’ of the Mosaic Law – because its function was to bring an awareness of one’s sinful nature. (Gal. 3:10) Yet, in and of itself, the Law offered no solution for overcoming our tendency to indulge our flesh. Instead, it showed us where we were helpless, and our need for divine intervention to achieve the righteousness required for entering the kingdom of God.

That same righteousness is offered to all people, who place their faith in the saving power of the blood of Jesus. Indeed, the ultimate purpose of the Mosaic Law was to point us towards that necessity:

It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made… Gal. 3:19

The seed was Christ – who brought the Mosaic Law to its final evolution. The original law was given so that people would know what constituted ‘transgressions’ against God, and that having such knowledge would place some restraint upon the would-be perpetrator.

The Law itself was not bad. How could it be? It is the word of God. But its relationship to God’s children changed with the advent of Christ:

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer in need of a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized have put on Christ. Gal. 3:24 – 27. ESV

No one can be justified by the impossible task of obeying every letter of the Law. So, as a follower of Christ, we let that insurmountable task ‘die’ in us and accept what Jesus did – how He filled that gap from what we are, to what we can ultimately become: a righteous child of God. We are justified by faith – period. How so?

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Gal. 3:6 NASB

Faith.

There is a spiritual transformation that takes place upon salvation, and it does not require that the recipient perfect their flesh. Can’t be done. It’s like this: we do our best to live by God’s laws, and Christ will free us from the curse of the law when we stumble in it. He stands between God and His child and says, “It’s okay, I’ve paid the price for this one.”

Even during this life, sends us help to minimize those stumbles:

…walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. Gal. 5:16 AMP

…if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal. 5:18 NASB

So, next time someone tries to find fault with you for your imperfections, explain why you’re covered. After all, what a great opening for evangelizing, yes?

Goodnight and God bless.

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Two-Sided Salvation – part 7

On the one side, the unsaved side, we are mercilessly buffeted by temptations that attempt to entice us to transgress against God. These temptations are not some kind of God test:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). James 1:13 ,14. AMP

Temptation is what Satan beguiles you with, hoping that you will fulfill the desires of your flesh:

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 Jn. 3:8 NKJV

The devil speaks, many times we listen and then make the free-will decision to act upon his suggestions. Ultimately, it’s our own fault.

So, what about when you reach the side of salvation? Unfortunately, the temptations persist. And the patterns can remain the same – in spite of our best intentions. Look at what the apostle Paul (who was Holy Spirit-inspired to write most of the New Testament) had to say about his own struggles:

We know that the Law is spiritual, but I am a creature of the flesh [worldly, self-reliant – carnal and unspiritual], sold into slavery to sin [and serving under its control]. For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness – my sinful capacity]. Rm. 7:14, 15. AMP

Paul is saying that regardless of what he knows to be right spiritually, he still yields to the weakness of his flesh, and sins. Why? When we are saved, our spirit is perfected in our union with God. With regards to our flesh, we are still humans being perfected. (2 Cor. 3;18) Even those who are saved will continue to sin:

“…there is no one who does not sin…” 2 Chr. 6:36

And unrepentant sin leads to death (James 1:15), but those who have received the salvation of God through Christ, are blessed with an entirely different outcome. First, lets return to the struggles of the apostle Paul, knowing that this mighty man of God had to fight the same battles that we do:

Now if I habitually do what I do not want to do, [that means] I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (morally excellent). So now [if that is the case, then] it is no longer I who do it [the disobedient thing which I despise], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness – my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good is present in me, but the doing of good is not. For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. Rm. 7:16 – 20. AMP

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, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Rm. 7:21 – 25. ESV

As we’ve seen, salvation (on this earth) involves the cleansing (sanctification and justification) of our spirits. Our flesh is a burden that we must contend with until the final (heavenly) realization of our deliverance – when our bodies are transformed and transcendent over their former state:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raise in glory. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 44. NKJV

Wow. But until then, we must struggle with our flesh while cultivating our spirit. Cultivating our spirit consists of continually immersing ourselves in the word of God and reminding ourselves of the sacrifice of the Father and of the Son for our salvation and of the magnitude or their love and the changes that it makes in our lives. We honor that by living as Christ lived to the best of our ability.

We were created to be free from the clutches of the world and of the puppeteer (Satan) who is pulling the strings in the shadows of it. In our redemption, we are given an unction to see the world through the eyes of God, knowing the difference between good and evil and the connection between our actions and their consequences.

Our minds must be renewed in Christ daily:

…regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit to your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God you gratitude for your salvation]. Eph. 4:22 – 24. AMP

That way we remain present to our actions, able to guide them as best we can. The holds true for our emotions, embracing them to understand them instead of letting our old unconscious hurts drive our conduct. We understand that our thoughts and actions also affect everyone around us; and when those actions are based in love and compassion there will be less suffering and more joy.

Whatever happened in the past is in the past. God has renewed you in your redemption; given you a new lease on life. There is no one to blame anymore, no grudges to hold, no sorrow to harbor. Let everything go. You have everything you need to be happy right now. Focus on that.

Christ has set you free. (Jn. 8:36) Always be honest with yourself with regards to what you think or do, so that you walk in truth and give up self-condemnation – doing your best to curb your old ways of being:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Rm. 8:1 – 4. NASB

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Rm. 8:10, 11. NASB

God’s love for you never waivers, regardless of what side of salvation you are on. However, once you pray for your redemption, you are now living under God’s gracious approval, crossing the open gate to His presence forever.

Oh, you will still fall down from time to time. That ball and chain that is your flesh can weigh you down at times, and sometimes you’ll give in. But now, you are practicing awareness. Instead of burying these mistakes and have them eat away at you, you can go to your Father on your knees in confession and repentance, and you will have access to the forgiveness of your deliverance.

You can pare down the frequency of these ‘falls,’ by relying on Christ when you feel temptations coming your way:

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to HIs word – He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and[ will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]. 1 Cor. 10:13 AMP

Also, you can evaluate your intended deed against the word of Christ before you leap. As you apply more of Jesus in your life, your desire to partake in worldly behavior will decrease. You become more of your real self and less of that one that took on the ways of the world.

God has already accepted you. You cannot earn your way to redemption. Neither can you lose it unless your sinning becomes chronically and rebelliously willful; but it will never happen because of your human frailty. That’s why God offers you salvation in the first place. You can’t do it on your own. He pardons you with the gift of His love. In Christ, He loves the sinners and reaches out to pluck them from their deathly predicaments:

…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners… 1 Tim. 1:15 NASB

God encourages us to come to Him just as we are, so that we can get all our sin-debts wiped off of His Book of Life, leaving only a Christ-purified signature of permanent membership. When we do that with faith in what the gospel says, absolution is guaranteed.

Salvation is already set up for everyone. Your sins have already been forgiven. God is just waiting for you to bring your faith in that it is done (through Christ), and for you to receive it with thanksgiving…

Goodnight and God bless.