Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Christian Perfection - by Vicki Hong

I read this reply to a post about a book by John Crowder called Mystical Union.  It seemed the post author misunderstood some things in the book, like Christian perfection, sanctification, and Christians not having a sinful nature.  This reply was given to address those confusions and I thought the reply was so amazing!   Vicki gives us some wonderful insights into the finished work of Christ and how we are perfect now as new creations in Christ!

When we speak of perfection we talk about it the way that is defined as “excellence; without any flaws; no defects; no shortcomings; exact; correct, etc.” Aka, never missing the mark and never sinning because sinning is breaking some code of conduct. Aka, moral perfection. But according the Thayer’s Lexicon, the word perfect means “to be complete, lacking nothing from purpose, finished.”

This makes sense because the goal of a Christian life isn’t moral perfection. It isn’t trying to become more like Christ. Why is it so hard? Because it was never meant to be our job. We thought it was. And mankind tried. But we only failed and always will fail. What you think as moral or as “perfect” even misses the standard. And that’s why He came. We couldn’t do it right to save our lives. Literally. We were ruled by sin. Sin isn’t just the dirty act you do. Sin was a governing entity, a master that ruled from the inside of us (you can look it up.) But that’s why Christ came. He came not only to forgive you, but to set us free from sin. He did that by making us NEW in Him by allowing us to die with Him and to rise again with Him inside of us. Now that’s good news. His life became my life. And my life is Him living through me. If I died with Him, then every part of me that was ruled by sin is now gone, and now I am free to live by His Spirit because now I am a completely new creation. And all of this is not something I did unto myself, but what Christ did for me. SO now, by faith, by His grace, by my dependence on what HE did, I am now free. Now that He lives in me, I am righteous, I am perfect, I am good, I am holy, I am free. So now the real definition is true. I am lacking nothing in Him because my faith has made it so. He made me complete when I couldn’t do it on my own. And now, as the Bible would support, we are transformed into His image by the work of His Spirit, not by our own efforts.

Recap: Christian perfection is dependence and faith in Jesus, the one with whom we were made one on the Cross. He ran the race we couldn’t run and won it for us when we weren’t even looking. Why? Because we could never achieve it on our own. Never could. Never have. Never will. 

Sanctification is a person. 1 Cor 1:30 says that He became to us righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. That’s why we can only boast in Him. Because it was all by grace. It was a gift. God Himself was the gift given to us. It was never about what we could do, what we did, or what we didn’t do. And so it remains that way. And now He lives inside us.

So what is our role? Christ did it all and now do we sit back and do nothing? We can do whatever the heck we want? No. Paul addresses this. People are afraid that grace allows people to sin. But it is quite the opposite. Grace is what gave us freedom and keeps us from sinning. Actually, it has made me not want to sin any longer! Why would I want to? 

Now just because I believe in this and have faith in Him it doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. It doesn’t mean I don’t need to grow either. But those mistakes aren’t what disqualifies me anymore because nothing can separate me from His love. My feelings of acceptance and closeness and of His presence aren’t dependent on me anymore, but on Him. Because it was never about me in the first place. Knowing that it isn’t about my performance, sets me free.

This gives you freedom. Freedom to know that you’ve been made new. Made good. Freedom to trust your heart and your imaginations and your creativity. Freedom to believe, to dream, to be pure, to be righteous. Sure, I will stay away from the things that I know are “sins” as much as I can, not because I don’t want to sin, but because I don’t need to anymore. I’ve found something that satisfies, something that lasts, something more real, something I can trust with my whole life. Because if you think about it, sin isn’t a rule you break and it’s not just disobedience from a list of “don’t's”. Sin is ultimately all a form of DISTRUST. Faith is what pleases Him. Faith is what qualifies us. Faith is what makes us righteous. Not our moral excellence.
Believing in a certain doctrine, or not believing in one, isn’t going to make all your problems go away or explain your imperfect actions. But I think if you really know what Jesus did for you on the cross and accept His gift, you’ll see that it is easier than you ever dreamed to truly be free. 

I think all that Crowder was saying is that if you believe yourself to be a sinner, never to be truly free, you’ll behave that way, but if you believe that there is greater reality – that Christ truly made you new, that He didn’t just forgive you and then gave you second chance with the old self, but gave you His very life to life, then you’d live by this reality. That’s all that faith really is. Seeing the real reality. 

It might seem to easy. It might seem dumb, even. But I believe there is a greater reality. A better one. A true one. The Christian life has to be more than fighting and wrestling with sin, trying to control our thoughts and actions, analyzing ourselves so we can fix ourselves, feeling good ‘cuz we read our Bibles and prayed and then feeling crappy because we didn’t, doing things because we know it’s right, and trying to be “good” so that God will be pleased, and so we can feel close to Him. It’s gotto be more than calling down fire from heaven and crying out for revival, too. What if really the Christian life is about enjoying our lives and what God has done for us? Because He has already made Himself one with us? What if everything we ever needed to do and be fulfilled was done through Christ, and now all we have to do ENJOY it and live in His love, expressing His goodness on this planet? What if God truly did set you free and made you holy? What if God is really that good? What if Him saving us meant a living a life so much better than what we thought? Wouldn’t being a Christian be more FUN?! What if Christians were actually happy about being Christians because it’s the best thing in the world?!

Wahoooo! I dunno, but I’m having fun!

                                                                                                                    Vicki Hong

No comments:

Post a Comment

May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14