Coming to grips with some of the deeper truths of Scripture can be life-changing… to say the least. For example, when Paul, Peter, James and John pen their letters to believers striving for faithfulness in their day, some statements stand out as, not only difficult, but impossible if placed against the backdrop of the entirety of God’s Word.
We hear statements like, “be holy as God is holy,” and “be perfect,” and let’s not overlook verses that proclaim, “those who abide in Him do not sin (1 John 3:6).”
What the believer must first do is come to a realistic admission of sin in their own life. Yes, even as a believer. Our problem is we do not recognize our own sin. Oh, we see other’s sin easily, but not our own. As Jesus unfolded the deeper truths of God’s Law, He made it clear that we don’t understand the depth of God’s Holiness and Righteousness. If we did, we could do no more in this life than fall to our knees in awe as Isaiah, and proclaim, “Woe is me!”
Jesus gave us a glimpse of this Holiness, as He unfolded the truth of the Law regarding adultery and murder (Matthew 5). But He meant for us to understand these truths to extend and open our minds and hearts to the absolute unachievable perfection of God’s righteousness.
To those who inquired of the most important of commandments, Jesus made it clear. Love God with your absolute everything. And running right along beside it, love your neighbor as yourself. Does anyone out there reading this really claim they keep these commandments? If so, I’m afraid, you have completely missed the message of the gospel. We do not meet the requirements of God’s standard!
Paul was so sure of this that he penned his seventh chapter to the Romans, and scolded the church at Galatia for thinking they had arrived at some special place of privilege in God’s eyes (Galatians 3). John said, if we proclaim to have no sin, we are just plain liars (1 John 1:8).
So what do we make of those verses that seem to vision us as people with no sin? Exactly what they say. Friends, in Christ, we have no sin. He paid our sin debt… past, present, and future. But that doesn’t mean our flesh (the old man) isn’t pleading and begging day and night for our attention. And it doesn’t mean we will never again sin. If Paul could be honest enough in the seventh chapter of his letter to the believers at Rome to acknowledge he still gave in to the old man and committed sins, then aren’t we being very arrogant to insinuate to anyone that we have mastered something that even the apostles themselves couldn’t?
Please understand that I am not insinuating in any shape or form that a person who has been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ can simply live in a blatant lifestyle of sin. They cannot. The struggle between the new creation and the flesh is a very important evidence of the new birth. We live as a people who have been declared victorious over sin and death (Romans 6). We are more than conquerors!
But only in Christ Jesus! He is the only perfect One. We can’t be holy… but He is. We can’t be perfect… but He is. We can’t be sinless… but He is! We place our faith in His finished work, and we have no confidence in ourselves… none! And when we fail (and we will), if we are resting entirely in His grace, we love and appreciate our Lord even more as we realize our hopelessness without Him.