PROGRESS . . . NOT PERFECTION

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If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)


I meet far too many Christians who believe that being a “new creation” means they must have the passion of the prophets, the discipline of the disciples, and the strength of Samson. Experience has taught me this is simply not the case. To be sure, sin has been conquered and crushed through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But, as I frequently remind our congregation, we must remember that inasmuch as sin no longer reigns, it still remains. We will battle against sin all the way into glory, just as the Scriptures tell us:

The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:17)

Before we were saved, we were only capable of sinning in the eyes of the Lord. Nothing we did brought honor or glory to His name. Selfish ambition and self-interest ruled our hearts and shaped our lives. But when Jesus showed up, all that changed. As new creations, we have an ability we did not have before we knew Jesus. We now have the ability to resist the devil and flee from the sinful impulses that still reside in the old nature. But if we believe even for a moment that we will reach perfection in this life, we are setting ourselves up for certain, crushing defeat.

The ultimate outcome of the Christian life is perfection; when we cross the Jordan, we will be fully conformed into the image and likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ. But until that day, we will struggle against the sin nature that still resides within us. And yet the orientation of our lives has been radically changed by Christ. Instead of the heart beating for the self, it has begun to beat for our Savior. We desire to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to the One who saved us from sin, Satan, death, and ourselves. When Jesus changes us, He renews our mind, realigns our will, and reorients our heart. At this level of living, because Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20), we begin to make real and measurable progress against sin.

As new creations we have a new identity which cannot be shaken, because it is rooted in the unshakable One. And as new creations we have a new power greater than any power that can come up against us. Let the truth of Whose you are set you free to make forward progress; and when you stumble, fear not! You are unconditionally loved and completely forgiven.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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