Lessons from the present: The way it is
Looking at the above title from the outside as a non Christian, I would probably say, “Great, another one of those self absorbed Christians who think they know something.” Frankly, most Christians arn’t really offering much substance these days, and believe it or not your average unbeliever knows the difference.
Most unbelievers could care less about “getting saved” or discovering and living an obedient life unto a God they quickly reject. They have no desire nor inclination to stop living selfishly and relinquish control of their lives. They are perfectly content living in their sins with this one interesting exception: almost all men ponder and consider their original origin and their final destiny. This is more than just a basic curiosity about life, it is the result of God “placing eternity in men hearts.”
As Christians, we rarely give those who don’t share our faith nearly enough credit. These are not ignorant people, but those like ourselves who also have questions and who are looking for answers. They live in the same world we do, they see and experience the same problems that affect us as individuals and as a united humanity. On some fronts, they do more for the needy than many who claim to have “faith.”
Torn between two worlds
It’s understandable when any person seeks out answers to the difficulties each face in life, and those without Christ have lots of answers that they claim to have found and which they promote. Of course these answers are not a testimony to God nor what He has done but rather, to the ingenuity of men and what they themselves have supposedly discovered. Despite these answers which often include a particular view of the origin of humanity such as evolution, their remains a fascination concerning death and what comes after. It is here many unbelievers have an interest, not just because of the troubled times and the obvious ongoing conflicts between men and nations, but because of something deeper……that uneasiness, that uncertainty, that fear of the unknown that God placed within their hearts. It is the one thing God prevents them from discovering outside of Him.
There is no reason why a unbeliever would invest in eternity for they know not about such things. The work of eternity is in the hands of God’s people, and despite what we may think, the unbelievers are well aware of this. Many of them, although still in their sins, are fairly familiar with what the Bible says and even the manner God requires His people to live in this world. Granted, they don’t understand grace, though they are aware of the attitudes and actions which God requires. The claim by those without faith that professing “Christians are hypocrites” is absolutely true about many people and is often based upon what these people know about the Bible. If that surprises you it shouldn’t. There looking and watching much more than we might think they are.
In a very real sense the unbeliever has a legitimate reason for living it up in this world- they’re simply enjoying the only option they know- they are propelled by a nature that cannot do otherwise. Unlike them, the Christian who is called to invest in eternity has no excuse. If he or she does otherwise that is hypocritical, that is the opposite of what God commands and the antithesis of all that the Bible reveals as having true faith. This is even more puzzling in light of another significant truth: a real Christian has the Holy Spirit living in them Who grants them revelation to “see the kingdom of God” and how that operates among the family of God. Furthermore, He also grants a glimpse of eternity from both perspectives as they come to realize God as the author of life in creation as well as the author of resurrection after physical death. Thus the uneasiness, uncertainty and fear that was once present is now removed for the future is sure for those trusting in Him.
All of the above is some background information for what I want to share now.
God’s ultimate aim for us is perfection: the absence of sin
I’ve always been a rather passionate chap, I was the guy who never wanted the Bible study nor the prayer meeting to ever end. I could never understand the people that wanted to get right through this stuff so they could go the movies or pursue something else. For most of the people I knew, something or someone else always seemed to take precedence over what I thought God had showed me mattered most. Anytime I tried to speak my mind or challenge what I thought was wrong I kept hearing people says things like, “We’re all sinners,” “Everybody does it,” and “Nobody’s Perfect.” I would think to myself, “But aren’t we supposed to be perfect.”
Throughout the Bible we find verse after verse that denotes this process of growth from beginning to end. Every time I read these verses they never seem to fall short of God’s intent- perfection for individual believers. In every instance the culmination is always this, nothing short of perfection.
“May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” [Romans 6:2]
“…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so we would no longer be slaves to sin…[Romans 6:6]
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable and perfect” [Romans 12:2]
“…who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 1:8]
‘Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” [2 Corinthians 7:1]
“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” [Ephesians 1:4]
“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” [Ephesians 4:13]
“…that He might present to Himself the ekklesia in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” [Ephesians 5:27]
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” [Philippians 1:6]
“…who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” [Philippians 3:21]
“…yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach…[Colossians 1:22]
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” [Colossians 1:28]
“…so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” [1 Thessalonians 3:13]
…and many, many more.
God is perfect, and so are His ways
Throughout God’s dealings with man we can easily see that God’s standard is perfection. That perfection began with God’s own character (Deuteronomy 32:3, 4), extended through His law (Psalm 19:7)(Romans 7:12), and was fulfilled by Jesus so He could become the author of our salvation. (Hebrews 5:9, 10) God has a perfect plan and a perfect will (Romans 12:2)- the consummation of which will be perfect children in a perfect paradise.
Eternity in their hearts
Try as we might, all men long to understand the “beginnings and ends” of their existence and yet that eludes them all. For the sinner, he places his hope in this world and what he can make of it and in it. He foregoes what his heart really longs for, hindered by an ongoing unbelief in the only one capable of giving Him sight. Even when he might look to those supposedly representing God for answers, he or she finds they are just as inept of living free from the very same things that bind them, whether they be natural or spiritual.
The poor professing Christian might be worse off. Supposedly endowed with the very Spirit they claim enables them to triumph over all, they claim God’s knowledge and power to triumph over sin only to be caught in the same quagmire as the world around them. Despite their spouting the triumphs of Jesus, their lives rarely if ever reflect His life on earth or the tremendous promises that He says can raise His own above both death and destruction. They too have relinquished God’s best, preferring to spout out their weak faith using the same excuses the world does like, “Nobody’s perfect.” That pretty much sums up where most of these folks focus is doesn’t it?
The Holy Spirit- the seed of perfection
Believe it. Both the Christian and the unbeliever are desirous of the very same thing whether they realize this or not- and so are you. Think about it. When you go shopping, when you eat, when you buy a car, a computer or a hundred other things. When you long for a mate, when you have children and when you participate in any function that demands your attention. What is it you are looking for, that’s right- perfection!
You can call this selfish, it most certainly is, but that’s only because Adam’s nature has corrupted what God gave as a perfect longing to all of mankind- a longing that can only lead to a perfect place, to the perfect God, to Him. You see, our longings aren’t really for things, rather it’s for answers to questions like, “Why was I born,” “Why am I here” and yes, even, “What is my purpose?” Things are merely the substitutes that attempt to temper the void that the unbeliever pretends doesn’t exist and the average professing Christian neglects and hides from. Even when men attempt to answer these questions for us or them, it’s never sufficient, for only the revelation of Christ will bring assurance of the truth. All must seek God for themselves.
As an unbeliever no one has hope. But those who possess the Holy Spirit have in their possession perfection itself, literally living within them. What is it that God desires most from us as a result? Our time, our money, even our best?
“He jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us” [James 4:5]
Noting the varying translations of this verse, God has placed initially a human spirit (at birth) and the Holy spirit (when we were spiritually regenerated) within the bodies of Christians. We are called to live our lives by the Spirit of God in many passages, the Spirit that testifies with our human spirit that we are the children of God. It is only as a result of living such that our lives will be fruitful and lived within the perfection of God. That doesn’t mean we are perfect now or free of sin (conditionally that is) but having the Holy Spirit living in us guarantees God’s aim in redemption- the blameless, holy, perfect instruments He’s after.
What we’ve forgotten
God set in motion the guarantee of our perfection the very day He called us unto Himself. Although that perfection is guaranteed by God, there is a practical working out of that “perfect will” that we are responsible for and it does not include making excuses and settling for far less than God’s best in and through us. Every single thing that was necessary for our redemption as well as a lifetime of fruitful service was provided in the past. It is merely our failure to recognize this and live in it, combined with our own ingenuity and human resources that hinder the perfection of God from becoming reality- now.
STOP MAKING EXCUSES.
If Jesus says in Matthew 5:48;
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”
He is more than adequate, more than capable, more than willing.
-continued in: Lessons from the future: The way it can be