There are two perspectives of faith in and relationship with God: God’s and ours. They are both valid, but different. From His (the eternal) perspective I either know Him or I don’t — Either, OR! From the human/temporal perspective, “knowing Him” is a “growth” process. However, participating in the process is NOT about our “performance” in TRYING to be a “good Christian”! That’s RELIGION NOT FAITH!
I shake my head when I hear or read about those who “teach” that I don’t have to “do” anything to be saved but believe, yet talk about “being the best Christian I can be” (whatever that means). Really? How does one do that? The most literal definition of “Christian” is “Christ-like.” So is “trying to be a better Christian” defined by some percentage of my life that is like Christ — versus the “part” of me that is not like Christ? Not from a Biblical basis!
Christ is Christ, wholly, fully, truly. He is PERFECTION! He is the I AM God made known to mankind; the One True and Living God made visible for eternity! Paul said that Christ is the fullness of God, and that all of the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, etc. of God is in Him (Colossians 1&2). No part of Christ is less than all that He was, is, and will be. IF the “goal” of my faith is to be “Christ-like,” then how do I determine to what degree I have “achieved” that goal? I can’t! It is impossible to be truly “like Christ”!
Furthermore, “TRYING” to be a “good Christian” IS actually SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE! Why? How else am I going to find out, confront, and finally truthfully confess that in me, that is in my flesh dwells NO GOOD THING? (Romans 7:18). From that perspective then, FAILURE is my “friend” — but ONLY IF it brings me to the complete end of myself and my “goodness,” so that I will finally cast myself FULLY upon JESUS and confess that “without” Him, I can do NOTHING! (John 15:5)
Therefore, according to Paul, the “goal” of our faith is NOT to be “like” Christ at all! Faith’s Biblical “goal” for us is to completely DIE out to ourselves and allow Christ Himself to be fully Who and What He is IN and THROUGH us!
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; YET NOT I, BUT CHRIST [HIMSELF] LIVETH IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
NO LONGER MY LIFE, BUT HIS LIFE!
I am NOT supposed to “TRY” to be more like Christ! I am supposed to DIE — to myself, my flesh, my will, my likes and dislikes, my opinions, etc., etc., etc. By doing THAT, Christ Himself can then live IN me and fully be Himself THROUGH ME! Nothing else is “enough.” NOTHING! This is God’s perspective.
Jesus said it this way in Luke 9:23-24, “If any man will come after me [“be my disciple”], let him deny [Greek = “disavow ownership of”] himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
However, very few “believers” have actually arrived at that place — YET! Until then, we walk with Him daily; we humbly confess our failures daily; we communicate with Him daily (that’s called “prayer”); and we acknowledge that we are NOT fully what His Word declares for us to be, BUT that by His Love, Word, Spirit, Name, Blood, power, etc. working in us daily, we are progressing towards the day that we can trust Him to trust us to be truly crucified with Him!
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 FOR IT IS GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE.
Philippians 2:13 (Amplified Version)
13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
As long as I don’t “SETTLE” for being less than fully given over to Christ, The Father in His Love, Grace and Mercy will continue to be longsuffering and patient with me as I “grow in grace and in the knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”! (2 Peter 3:18).
We are called to “surrender” to Christ NOT “surrender” to our flesh. We may sometimes “fail” in our faith at times during our day and have to face afresh and anew that we are not fully surrendered or submitted to Christ (the WORD made flesh – John 1:1,14) — inside and/or in our actions — and we will then need to confess and repent of our sins — AGAIN. However, we must never forget that the availability of forgiveness does NOT justify/excuse us giving ourselves over to habitual sinning.
It is a tragedy — both here and in eternity — for preachers to “give” people a “license to sin.” Paul emphatically declared in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? GOD FORBID. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
In continuing this thought, Paul clearly taught that we believers should not/must not give ourselves over to sin (and to a “life-style” of sin). Why? Because we are DEAD (through Christ) to sin through salvation.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THIS IS THE WORK OF GRACE IN US! This is what Christ did for us and made available to us. This is the “goal” of our faith. The fact that We are not yet consistently living our daily lives by walking according to these spiritual principles NEVER excuses us when we “settle” for less than what they have proclaimed to us. NEVER!
BIBLICAL MERCY AND GRACE IS THIS: IT IS NEVER OK TO SIN — NEVER — BUT GOD’S LOVE NEVER GIVES UP ON US AS LONG AS WE DON’T SETTLE FOR LIVING THE SAME LIFE/LIFE-STYLE OF THE UNBELIEVER AND FALSELY CALLING IT “SALVATION”!
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
I don’t know the original author of this statement, but I close with it here:
GOD LOVES US LIKE WE ARE, BUT HE LOVES US TOO MUCH TO LEAVE US LIKE WE ARE! AMEN!