“God doesn’t expect you to be perfect.”
Many Christians say this, however is it true? Their intentions are good. We wish to encourage fellow saints who’re waging warfare with sin. We wish to acknowledge sin’s actuality relatively than hiding behind a fastidiously curated façade. We additionally wish to defuse rigidity as we discuss to unbelievers about our religion, nuancing our method to keep away from a legalistic message.
However after we decrease God’s expectations for his individuals, and de-emphasize the seriousness of his command for holiness, we truly cheapen his grace and lose sight of his spectacular promise.
In his first letter, Peter writes to believers struggling persecution for following Jesus. He addresses them as “elect exiles of the dispersion,” emphasizing how their non permanent world, together with all its trials, will give technique to an “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4).
He particulars the magnificence of God’s mercy in regenerating them (v. 3), and the safety of God’s energy to protect them (v. 5). His phrases overflow with the truth of divine grace.
However then, relatively than assuring us that this gracious God doesn’t count on us to be good, Peter challenges us:
As he who known as you is holy, you even be holy in all of your conduct, since it’s written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (vv. 15–16)
That is severe. Peter permits no wiggle-room right here. We are able to’t interpret the verse in a halfhearted method. Holiness defines God’s essence, and since God calls his individuals to be like him, holiness isn’t elective for us. The Holy One instructions his chosen ones to be holy. No exceptions.
And if we’ve got any doubts concerning the seriousness of Peter’s command, we must always learn Jesus’s equally severe phrases: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Certainly “perfect” means “Just try your best,” proper? Not in line with Paul: “For it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them’” (Gal. 3:10).
God truly does demand perfection. There is no such thing as a room in these instructions for snapping at your children in the course of the Monday-morning rush. There is no such thing as a exception for grumbling concerning the climate. There is no such thing as a loophole for a second’s lustful look. There is no such thing as a leeway for failing to worship. We are able to’t get round God’s requirement; the command is severe.
But inside the command itself is a spectacular promise: “You shall be holy.” God is saying, You’ll develop in holiness. You can be conformed into my picture. I’ll see to it. The holy Lord who ransoms a individuals who have been as soon as slaves to sin now calls us “obedient children” (1 Pet. 1:14) and empowers us to be holy as we traverse the earth as exiles. He’ll do it, and his promise is as true because the blood of Jesus is treasured (v. 19).
God instructions holiness, and so he gave us Jesus.
Does this promise reduce the seriousness of the command? No, the promise upholds it. The seriousness of God’s command means it’s unattainable for us to satisfy—however his promise means the unattainable is now doable due to Jesus. Within the phrases of Augustine, God offers us what he instructions of us. What does he give, precisely? For believers in Christ, his spectacular promise is three-fold:
- You might be holy. You might be lined in Christ’s righteousness and declared righteous—justified—in God’s sight, now recognized as holy and beloved youngsters.
- You might be being made holy. You might be turning into extra like Christ—sanctified—as his Spirit powerfully works obedience inside you.
- You can be made holy. Once you exit this earth and enter heaven, beholding Jesus’s glory, you can be made like him, absolutely and completely holy as he’s—glorified.
God instructions holiness, and so he gave us Jesus. He made good on his spectacular promise to ship a Redeemer, to save lots of his individuals from their sins (Isa. 53:11). He makes good on his promise to present his individuals new hearts and put his Spirit inside them (Ezek. 36:26). And he will make good on his promise to finish the great work he started in us on the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6).
As we watch for that day, we wait as justified youngsters of God. We wait with the sanctifying Spirit at work inside us. We wait with a brand new energy to obey.
Earlier than God put new hearts inside us, our wishes weren’t for him however for ourselves. We beloved our sin and have been mastered by it. We didn’t need fellowship with our Creator or the holiness that brings him glory.
In our eyes, God’s instructions revealed him as an uptight dictator holding out on us, simply as Eve thought God was holding out on her. Even after we tried to obey, we discovered we couldn’t. Our failure to be holy triggered us to throw up our palms in defeat.
However isn’t this the purpose? Grace is most stunning to individuals who know they don’t deserve it and might’t earn it. Jesus got here to our rescue by way of his good obedience, as a result of we couldn’t probably rescue ourselves.
And when he saved us by his grace—dying on the cross because the holy, sinless sacrifice for unholy, disobedient sinners—he freed us from sin’s grip and gave us new hearts. He renewed our wishes. Now we love him, and now we love what he loves, so we pursue holiness by way of his Spirit, who upholds us with all the ability we’d like.
When the temptation arises to snap at your partner, or when a click on of the mouse brings a possibility for lust, keep in mind God’s name to perfection. He isn’t detached to your sin. He doesn’t make an exception for it. As an alternative, he offers you every thing it’s worthwhile to battle it.
God expects you to be good, sure. However not as a result of you could be—as a result of Jesus has been, is, and at all times shall be good. He imputes his holiness to you as a beloved little one of God. He offers you his Spirit, who works obedience inside you to deliver Christ glory. And he’ll see to it that you just make it to heaven, the place his spectacular promise of good holiness shall be accomplished inside you.