Perfection In Christ Jesus | Christianity Quotes
Perfection in christ jesus
Perfection In Christ Jesus

Perfection In Christ Jesus: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14 KJV

Some time ago, I had an encounter with an Agnostic (someone who neither denies nor acknowledges the existence of God); they said,

“If you continue to sin after you believed and accepted everything, how is that heart any different than the unrepentant sinner?  The deeds are still sinful in both scenarios, thus if the works show the heart, then the repentant sinner’s heart is the same as the unrepentant.”

Now then, this person was essentially arguing that because Christians sin they’re no better off than unbelievers who also do immoral things at times.  Therefore neither one is different from the other.  Hence both sides must be equally saved or lost as both are guilty of sin.

Such a conclusion may sound reasonable to some who think of us as foolish because we don’t see it this way; however, what these people are failing to understand is that even though Christians do fall into sin at times, the motives behind their sin and their response to it are not the same as that of an unbeliever.  For where sin was once treasured by us it is now abhorred; where it was once our beloved master, it is now seen as nothing more than waste.

Growth in Christ is Holiness

Of course, that doesn’t mean sin is any less offensive because it has been committed by a believer.  What I’m saying is that the drive behind it identifies where the heart stands in relation to God, as those who give their hearts to Jesus Christ will not continue to behave in an ungodly way without restraint.  Instead, they will grow in His righteousness, that is, they will move away from their desire to sin more and more as they continue to draw closer to God.

This, of course, is a process identified in the Bible as ‘sanctification’, which essentially has to do with being set apart for holiness.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight – Colossians 1:21-22 KJV

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified
Hebrews 10:14 KJV

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. – Romans 12:1-2 KJV

It’s important to note that being set apart for holiness doesn’t remove the possibility to sin from our lives.  There’s no doubt that God wants us to stop sinning as He desires that we would move on to perfection.  However, such an objective is not something that happens in a single moment.  I know this to be true because just as there are sins that I no longer commit that I used to enjoy before I gave my life to Christ, I still struggle at times in other areas.

Nevertheless, growth in Christ’s righteousness is what separates those who are of the world from those who merely live in it but belong to Jesus Christ.  In other words, if we aren’t growing in Christ’s righteousness then we aren’t following Christ, because there is always room for growth in Him.  And if this is the case, then it would certainly be fair to say that we are no better off than those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ.  After all, if we aren’t moving away from and changing the way we think about sin, then we aren’t growing in faith; rather, we are ‘lukewarm’, which means we aren’t standing with God. (see Rev. 3:16)

Saved Not by Sinlessness but by Grace

It’s important to understand that we aren’t saved because we are sinless or have reached the peak of perfection in works.  People are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8), and are therefore regarded as ‘sanctified’ simply because they believe and abide in Him, not because they have ‘arrived’, and supposedly can’t sin anymore. (1Corinthians 6:11)

Indeed, we are set apart as ‘holy’ because we belong to God, but that doesn’t mean we are free to sin with impunity, or that we are free from all temptation to sin.  How we choose to respond to temptation will determine where we stand in relation to God, and what we choose to do with sin ‘after the fact’ will determine what the condition of our hearts is, as the manner by which believers testify to the validity of their faith in Jesus Christ will be manifested in their obedience to and desire for His righteous way.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” – John 14:15 KJV

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” – 1 John 5:3 KJV

Repentance is the result of God’s Work

Repentance is not only the result of God’s work, it is a response to God.  But not all who repent are truly responding to God in a favorable way. In other words, some who repent really mean what they say, while others think that they can fool God.  But God can’t be fooled; He can read the heart as an open book.  He knows the wheat from the tares, and can, therefore, distinguish the difference between those who truly love righteousness and those who love their sin more than Jesus Christ.

What this all comes down to, then, is that it’s a matter of how a person responds to God after he has become aware of the fact that he has sinned against Him.  That makes all the difference between those who love sin and those who hate it and those who desire to live for Jesus Christ and those who merely want to use His name as an excuse to live in sin with impunity.  For our response to turn away from sin in order to answer to the high calling of God to be holy distinguishes us from hypocrites and liars who merely remain where they are in their sins and thus reject Him.

Walking in the Spirit

Having said that; even though both believers and unbelievers sin at times, there is a fundamental difference between us, and that difference lies in both the motive behind our sinning against God and what we choose to do after sin has been committed.

Please keep something in mind:  since believers are in Christ Jesus their guilt is covered by His righteousness.  As a result of this, we will not fall under condemnation.  Nevertheless, unbelievers will face the wrath of God because they do not have the power to save themselves from their guilt and have ultimately rejected the only one who could save them from their sins. That is, they have rejected Jesus Christ.

The question that remains then is this: Will unbelievers see us as being just like them or will they see something in us that’s worth taking a closer look at?  The presence of the Holy Spirit in the heart or the lack thereof could surely be the deciding factor here.  After all, we can’t be a light to the world if we look just like the world, but we will be a light to the world when we walk even as Jesus walked.

“Now he which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” – 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 KJV

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:16-25 KJV

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