Everyone must have a real encounter with sin, recognizing what it is, not just a “bad thing” but an offense against God.
Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8
). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person’s conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person’s relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God— “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight . . .” (Psalm 51:4
). Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes— a reflex action caused by self-disgust.
The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man’s respectable “goodness.” Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person’s life (see Galatians 4:19
). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.
We are here for a purpose. To be useful, we need to be set aside for that purpose. Salvation and sanctification have to do with that setting aside. Satan doesn’t want us to fulfill our purpose; one of his great gambits is to keep us focused on the salvation and sanctification so that we never move on to fulfilling a purpose. It is that gambit that keeps us sitting in pews wanting to hear yet again that we are saved; contemplating further this mystery of sanctification. He keeps us in a vicious cycle of recognizing our sinful nature, knowing we need a savior and turning to Christ. I know folks who have “gone forward” to accept salvation numerous times, but have never taken a single step to further the Kingdom past themselves. They become obsessed with “losing” their salvation or “becoming more holy.” As righteous as that sounds; it is completely SELF righteous; for it is completely focused on self.
To be holy doesn’t mean to be good, it means to be set aside for a purpose. To have a purpose, you have to do something.
Have you EVER told anyone about Jesus? Have you lifted a hand to help one widow or orphan or prisoner? Do you delight in the belief that “God is still working on me” and that one day you will do something that will give your life eternal meaning? Or does it have meaning now?
The grace of God is absolute and limitless, and the work of salvation through Jesus is complete and finished forever. I am not being saved— I am saved. Salvation is as eternal as God’s throne, but I must put to work or use what God has placed within me. To “work out [my] own salvation” (Philippians 2:12
) means that I am responsible for using what He has given me. He has given me talents and resources. What have a done today to use these gifts for His glory?
Tomorrow is Sunday and it will be great to attend service; but it would be so much better to bring someone, to help someone, to DO something.
Aren’t you tired of being useless?
As I work on this devotional I am listening to a high school football play off. It’s a war. If we experience life we learn early that much about life is a war, a continuing struggle. This is true in the natural, physical, mental and spiritual. Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm. It is a fact that there is a continuing struggle in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual areas of life.
Health is the balance between the physical parts of my body and all the things and forces surrounding me. To maintain good health I must have sufficient internal strength to fight off the things that are external. Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead. If I have enough inner strength to fight, I help to produce the balance needed for health. The same is true of the mental life. If I want to maintain a strong and active mental life, I have to fight. This struggle produces the mental balance called thought.
Morally it is the same. Anything that does not strengthen me morally is the enemy of virtue within me. Whether I overcome, thereby producing virtue, depends on the level of moral excellence in my life. But we must fight to be moral. Morality does not happen by accident; moral virtue is acquired.
And spiritually it is also the same. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation . . .” (John 16:33
). This means that anything which is not spiritual leads to my downfall. Jesus went on to say, “. . . but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” I must learn to fight against and overcome the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness. Then it becomes a delight to meet opposition.
We are in a war, multiple wars actually. Be He has already won; but the struggle goes on.
It is a difficult, but crucial point, to recognize that God doesn’t want to make us perfect — God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him.
But doesn’t Christ say to be perfect even as the Heavenly Father is Perfect? When you start talking about perfection, people immediately become very uncomfortable. None of us are perfect, as in flawless. We all make mistakes, we all do and say things we are sorry for. So what is the perfection our LORD is referring to in the above verse? We see the translation for perfect is: complete, of full age. How do we come to completion? How do we arrive at full age, or maturity? We grow up in Christ. We die to our flesh, our carnal thinking and reasoning, and learn to live totally under the guidance of the Spirit of God. That is why Christ gave His life for us. He paid the price for mankind to have the opportunity to become fully reconciled to the Father. When we think of perfection as an unattainable goal, we are rejecting the truth of what Jesus’ sacrifice bought and paid for.
Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.