“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” ~Romans 12:2
“What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” ~ Romans 6:1-2
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
We are only human. I hear that all the time. We try, we fail, we get up and fall again. We sin. We are only human. But lately I’ve been really feeling like this isn’t a valid excuse. Like we’re selling ourselves short somehow by chalking our mistakes up to our humanity. Like we’re selling God short somehow.
When it comes down to it, we were delivered from sin. We were delivered and are now asked to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). I’ve never thought much about this verse before. I always just figured ‘we are inherently imperfect’ and left it at that. But God brought it to my attention yesterday. Would He have asked it of us if it was completely unachievable? I get it; we’re sinners. But we were also delivered. With the death of Jesus came the deliverance of us. Not only that, but when Jesus ascended to heaven, in his stead came the Holy Spirit. Jesus called it the Counselor and the Advocate, to reside inside of us and guide our choices. Here’s where we get a little theological. Depending on your denomination, you might view the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God as more separate entities comprising the Holy Trinity, or you may literally see them as interchangeable. Either way, everyone agrees to a point that all three parts of the trinity are God in various forms.
I personally view them as pretty much the same, but for purposes of this post, the difference is this: Jesus walked among us, and sacrificed for us. The Holy Spirit resides inside of us. Yet both are God. Which means that God is inside of us. All of the love and compassion and righteousness that was Jesus Christ on this earth, is now alive and well and here. It’s within us. We were given this precious gift, a gift we could never possibly hope to earn. Why? So that we can sit here and say “well, I’m only human…..”. Somehow, I don’t think that was quite the idea. I think we were meant to embrace this gift, to overcome our humanity (so to speak) and be a true vessel of this perfect righteousness we were given. It’s the classic ‘less of me, more of You’ desire. We humans are imperfect, inherently sinners. The Holy Spirit is perfect and righteous. One is inside the other, and we have do control over which one prevails.
I have a friend who has recently returned back from a missions trip to Africa. Her life was changed forever as she saw how open people were there to spiritual experiences and how freely God was allowed to move. Her facebook status the other day was “Jesus, how you’ve wounded me for anything less than You”. It exactly summed up my feelings lately.
I want a heart that truly knows the bright light and beauty of Jesus. I know that He outshines anything I see here on earth. I want a heart that is so attuned to Him, that knows my savior so well, that even the most beautiful and tantalizing temptations of this earth appear to be nothing more than trash on the side of the street when compared to His glory. I want a heart that desires, truly desires, the things that God desires – not the things that the world offers. I want a heart that is so passionate for Christ, that is so led by the Holy Spirit within me, that I don’t give those earthly temptations a second glance, because they just don’t look appealing. I want a heart that will settle for nothing less than Jesus.
But I’m only human….imperfect…so can I get my heart to be in that place? The more I looked into it, the more I realized that yes I can. We all can. We don’t have to settle for the human condition. God gave us salvation for eternity, but he also gave us a way to overcome the flesh now. We can do it. Maybe it’s moment to moment. Maybe we won’t be always perfect from here on out for the rest of our lives – but in theory, we could be. In the sacrifice of Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, God gave us the tools we need to live by His righteousness. All of it.
In fact, it’s asked of us. God specifically tells us to be perfect. To not continue sinning. To live righteously. I’ve even heard it preached that because God poured out His righteousness into us, and then gave us free will, that God is only as righteous as the human vessel. I think that statement is something of a misrepresentation, but I agree with the sentiment. We were made into vessels. We were given this gift. It’s up to us to allow God to move, both within us and around us.
And if we do it right, it shouldn’t be “I’m only human”. It shouldn’t be “this is so hard to ignore” or “I want ____ but I know I really shouldn’t.” Instead, it should be “I have Jesus; why would I want ____?” It should be a heart that literally settles for nothing less than the fullness of Christ Himself.
Jesus, help me to stop masking You with my humanity. Help me to stop getting in the way of the Holy Spirit and blaming it on the fact that I’m inherently a sinner. Give me a heart that is fully focused and centered on You and You alone, and is so in love with You that nothing on this earth even comes close to fulfilling my heart’s desire. Show me how to get to the place where you are my true desire. Show me how to shed myself on an even deeper level, so that all is left in me is You. Show me how to abide in You and walk with You in a way that makes me not even visible to the world anymore, but instead lets your light shine out of me. Help me to seek nothing less than You. I love you with everything I have and all that I am.
I know this might be a kind of controversial post. I haven’t completely worked through it all yet I don’t think. It’s just what I’ve been feeling lately, and what I feel like God is telling me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too, either in a comment or privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.