Sunday, February 26, 2017
Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
One of the biggest pitfalls in the life of a believer is the perceived need to appear perfect all the time. Another big danger comes when we begin to think we have attained some level of spirituality that makes us, somehow, better than most. I am flawed, I sin, and I will always have the propensity to sin BIG. Pretending that I am not helps no one and being real opens the door to relational discipleship.
This does not excuse my sin, nor does it negate my pursuit of holiness, it merely recognizes my need to avoid self righteousness. Clearly, Scripture calls me to pursue perfection.
Pretending to be perfect not only harms my witness, it also harms others around me. The ultimate goal for myself and any believer is consistency in what I say and do. If I claim to love God and others, my actions must indicate the same. Blatant hypocrisy and double mindedness are one of the greatest hindrances to the Great Commission.
The Scriptural call to perfection is not a call to a destination but a call to a lifetime pursuit. Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Part of the Holy Spirit's ministry in the life of the believer is transformation.
Perfection comes when Christ calls us home, whether that should be at life's end or the rapture of the church. Until perfection comes, we are called to be real. Real with others and ourselves. Pretending to be holier or more perfected than I actually am is dangerous as it gives the enemy an opportunity to expose me as a fraud and ruins whatever testimony I may have had.
We certainly need to strive for holiness while being honest about our walk with God. Being honest about our struggles does not mean accepting our sin and excusing it by simply saying, "that's who I am." Being honest means admitting a problem and submitting to the will and transforming power of God. Being honest also means trusting someone to whom we can be accountable. We are not meant to walk this life alone, God made us for community and gave us each a unique role in the Body of Christ. Someone is relying on me to do my part as I am relying on others to do theirs.
The call to perfection does not require, nor expect us, to attain in this life. The call to perfection is a call to a life fully submitted to the will of God. Do not pretend to be better than you are and, at the same time, do not settle for a life of sin and struggle. Remember, though a righteous man falls seven times, he gets back up!
Monday, February 20, 2017
One of the most mishandled aspects of church life is dealing with sin in the camp. Sin is either ignored and allowed to fester or it is hastily and harshly confronted. Sin ignored can lead to spiritual irrelevancy as seen in many mainstream denominations which have chosen the liberal path of "tolerance". Sin dealt with harshly or hastily often leads to legalistic self righteousness which can strangle the message of love, grace and redemption found at the cross. Ignoring sin and legalistic campaigns against sin are two sides of the same coin, a coin that renders the Gospel powerless. Scripture gives very clear guidelines when it comes to dealing with sin in the church, and, as in every case when believers stray from the clear dictates of God's word, ignoring God's instruction leads to destruction.
Mat 7:1-5 "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Most everyone is familiar with Jesus' teaching on specks and beams when it comes to addressing sin. Jesus gave this example for a very specific reason, not everything perceived as sin in a person's life is sin. Sin in one person's life can often lead to perceiving sin in others. If a man is a liar, he may assume everyone else is a liar as well. If am woman is a thief, she may assume everyone around her is a thief also. Perceiving sin in others will affect interaction. Distrust will always hinder intimacy and healthy relationship building.
Jesus was a carpenter, by trade, therefore, the concept of specks of sawdust and wooden beams or logs would have been very familiar to Him. Jesus knew sin in a person's life could skew perception of others, for this reason, Jesus made it clear, sin must be dealt with personally before it could be dealt with corporately. This is a very important lesson for the modern church, as we often excuse sin in our own lives while holding others to a higher standard than which we hold ourselves. If I am torn up with sin, how can I accurately discern sin in the life of another?