And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven – Colossians 1:21-23a.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy – Jude 24.
To whom are these promises made? Are they for some super spiritual Christian who does everything right, and never fails? Are they, and like promises, meant only for those who keep His commandments flawlessly? What about if one sins, are they thereby excluded from the possibility of being presented before His Presence faultless? God forbid.
These promises are intended, not for those described above who perform flawlessly, but toward those who continue in faith, and are grounded and settled in the hope of the gospel. It says nothing qualifying the recipients as having to be perfect in and of themselves, and certainly not those as having in some way rendered themselves righteous through their own works…
Now these things are not said so as to present some cheapened version of grace, whereby God doesn’t care about our behavior, character, or whether or not we grow and go on unto perfection- God forbid. As will be presented, God’s grace is such that, Yes- All our sins are forgiven, and we’re considered righteous before Him, apart from works, apart from our performance (Rom 3:21; 4:6). And yet it is precisely through this same grace by which we overcome our sins practically, find complete victory in Him, and attain unto that perfection commanded of us by Christ (Mt 5:48).
Note above that Paul says, …in your mind. That is really where the battle is, isn’t it? The book by Joyce Meyers, Battlefield of the Mind, is still a national best seller because it’s premise is so true. All our acts- right or wrong, begin in the mind. And the first sermons preached by both John the Baptist and Jesus begin with, Repent…(Mt 3:2; 4:17), the word being in the Greek, μετανοέω– metanoeo, meaning to change one’s mind. We need to change our minds in regards to the opinion we have about personal sins, but also the very mind itself needs to be changed, to be transformed.
In the text above, Paul says to the Colossians that we were once alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works. That is, based on our behaviors, we were alienated from God, and enemies of God in our minds. Now this was true when we were careless sinners prior to our conversion. But how about now? How do we feel if we have a moral lapse or failure? What goes on in our mind if we should be easily beset about with that particular weakness which presents us with such a challenge? What if we’re in a long-standing battle, a seemingly endless fight against a particular bondage or addiction? How is it for us mentally when for the 100th time, we’re praying about the same thing?
Now we know of the carnal and unrenewed mind that it is written,
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. – Rom 8:7.
The teaching of Paul in Romans and elsewhere is that, whether one sets out to do good or evil, their flesh and carnal mind are incapable of pleasing God. Even if one sets their mind with all their might, to obey the commandments of God, it will be seen by God as an affront, as an offensive thing- why? Wouldn’t God be pleased with our noblest efforts to please Him?
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. – Rom 8:3-6;
…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Mt 26:41b.
The flesh is too weak to fulfill the righteous demands of the law, so God came about it through another way- even through His Son Jesus Christ. So, the movements of the flesh, even in it’s attempts to please God (noble as they may be) are an exercise, not only in futility, but are also an act of enmity against God! How? Because it’s us, in ourselves, in our own strength assaying to do right, to be right with God- as if we didn’t need a Savior, as if we could atone for our own sins, and bridge the chasm between us and God by our own works. This is human pride, and is highly offensive to God.
…for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. – 1Pet 5:5b.
When we come to God utterly bankrupt in ourselves, completely helpless (even like children), God is ready to receive us- but to come to God able, cabable of doing good, being good, and saying that our good works are sufficient to atone for our sins, and to render us right with God, well, that’s just pride, and God resists it.
On the other hand, God has made provision for us, has made atonement for us through the death of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross. We are reconciled to Him, with the intent of presenting us to the Father holy, unblameable, and unreprovable- in fact, faultless before Him. Again, is this through the works of the carnal man- particularly, his good works? Is it through our self-effort, our righteous deeds, our ability to perform? No. Because if it were, we’d have somewhat to boast of, which is pride (Eph 2:9), and if by works, then salvation becomes based on a debt- and then grace ceases to be grace (Rom 11:6).
If then, our salvation is based on grace and not works, on faith in His promises, and not on the law (nor obedience thereto), what happens if we fail?
To be sure, what isn’t being presented here is any condoning of sin, nor of licentiousness- which is a sinning with impunity, or lawlessness. Sin itself is a destructive force, which has ruined many lives, and has introduced untold evil in the world. At least one thing that proponents of the law and of grace can agree on is that sin is the enemy here. The question is- how does one approach the sin-issue so as to eradicate it out of one’s life? The answer to the above question then becomes of paramount importance to the one serious about holiness, and being pleasing to God:
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. – Heb 11:6.
Being pleasing to God, however, is not a matter of behavior, nor of performance as believers. This must be completely understood. If we’re trying to read more of the Bible, pray more, or attend more church services in order to ‘please God’- know that you’re placing yourself under the law. But, if we believe that because Christ’s death on the cross has atoned for ALL our sins, and has rendered us righteous (in right-standing with God), then we merely continue to believe this, even in the face of failure. In fact, that is a very real challenge to our faith, the outward circumstances of our moral imperfection.
Yet, what is it? Do we view that God’s relation to us is as up-and-down as our performance may be sometimes? Or is it true what it says about God,
…he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.– 1Jn 1:9b.
Do we view God as an ever constant and unchanging Person in our lives?
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. – Mal 3:6
Did you hear that? He does not change, and He Himself states that as being a reason that we (as sons of Jacob) are not consumed. He is not looking to disown us, nor to condemn us.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. – Rom 8:1-2 ASV.
This place of no-condemnation includes even the times when we fall, or fail morally in our struggles with sin. And included in the text above is the very secret by which we can, not only go on with God even after a stumble, but also on how to overcome our sins, bad-habits and addictions. It’s in the very fact that there is no condemnation for us in Christ, ever. We’re now answerable to a ‘higher law’, a law that transcends the law of Moses, and it’s hybrid law of sin-and-death, that arises from self-effort. Because now it’s in the very Person of Jesus Christ, the law of the Spirit of life within Him, by which we are now set free from sin.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. – Rom 6:14.
This is it, how not only we can be presented blameless, faultless, unreprovable, and holy- but also how to be kept from falling, sanctified, and holy in a practical sense. This is how we can be overcomers, and be victorious over our most challenging sins, addictions or character defects.
Usually we’re too busy beating ourselves up over our latest failure, or struggle. Maybe we’re too active, condemning ourselves, and perhaps doubt that connection with God, His love for us, His acceptance of us. “Well, you don’t understand what I’ve done, what I struggle with…”- No. But God does, and He’s already made provision for that sin. Christ has already been judged for that sin, and God’s already forgiven you, and considers you as righteous- justified (which means- just if I’d never sinned).
The only one keeping us out of the blessings of God, and the peace that is rightfully ours in Him, is us- because of how we’re viewing our failings, our faulty believing has caused us to doubt our standing with God, and to basically set us up for the next failure. This doesn’t even factor in the enemy, the ‘accuser of the brethren’- because sometimes, we’re our own worse enemy.
Dare to believe today that we must default to faultlessness, believing what Christ has done for us in His perfect sacrifice- when He said from the cross, It is finished – Jn 19:30. See that it was all our guilt, all our shame, and sin itself that was finished with Him on the cross. This isn’t some fancy way to sweep our faults under the rug, but the very antidote for our sins- past, present and future. When we look to the cross, as the children of Israel once did when bit by the fiery serpents (see Num 21:6-9; Jn 3:14-15), we’re cured, and healed of our moral malady.
When we truly believe that we’re made the very righteousness of God in Him (2Cor 5:21), we’ll begin to manifest that righteous behavior. We’ll no longer be so sin-conscious, because we’ll have received our inner cleansing, and we’ll be in agreement with what He says concerning our identity in Christ.
Though we may gravitate toward self-condemnation- though we may not easily see that we’re His righteousness, and holy in His sight, we need to default to that place of faultlessness, as afforded us on the cross. How else can we be free to truly believe all that He has promised about us in Him, as made in the divine Image? It’s easy to believe when all is going well and we’re on top of the world, but when the fog of war is upon our minds, we need to arm ourselves with the ‘reset button’ of faith, and see ourselves afresh as having been crucified with Him, and our sins as having been thoroughly judged thereat. We need to see with new eyes who we are in Christ- holy, pure, and unblameable in His sight.
Be blessed in Him.
Amen.Invite Leon to Speak