When I’m not at the office, I like to spend my time building things. Currently, I have multiple building projects going on and each one is vastly different. I enjoy each project and I get excited when I begin to enter the final stages of a project because I’m able to admire the work and move on to the next job.
While I get to enjoy this luxury [finishing projects] in my workshop, I do not enjoy this luxury in my walk with Jesus—and neither do you. I often find myself annoyed that I am not yet perfect. Now, I am not talking about perfectionism. No, no. Rather, I am talking about the struggle with sin. It is a continual battle that hardly ever relents! I walk with Jesus and yet I still sin. I walk with Jesus and yet still say and do dumb things. I seek to walk in humility and then stumble into pride without noticing. And my list (and yours) goes on.
As I have thought about this, I have realized a few things, and a few things that I hope will be an encouragement:
I am not who I was.
In 1 Cor. 6.9b-11, Paul wrote this: “Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Notice what Paul said: “Some of you used to be like this [drunkards, adulterers, sexually immoral, etc.]” But, for some of his readers, his preceding list of unrighteous people no longer applied to them. Why? Simply put: Jesus. They surrendered to Jesus and were changed. No longer were they enslaved to sin but were now at war with sin. Understand this: Sinners do not war with sin—only Saints do (Col. 3.1-17).
When I look at my life and my ongoing sanctification process, I often get annoyed and discouraged. However, by God’s grace, I am reminded that I am not who I was and that I am a new creation in Christ.
I am a new creation in Christ.
Talking about the new life in Christ, Paul wrote “the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5.17). In Christ, I am new and I am free. I am free to do that which I ought to do and am no longer captive to sin and darkness. What does this look like? Well, for starters, I also have a new mind—the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16). I can understand spiritual things and I can know God and be known by God (Gal. 4.9). I also have an eternal hope because Jesus is hope and is eternal (John 1.1; 1 Pt. 1.3). Therefore, I can walk the disciple’s journey regardless of how difficult it may become because he is the one who leads (Ps. 23).
I am not who I will be.
And this is the reminder I often give myself when I’m discouraged by the battle: I am not who I will be. Yes, I am a new creation in Christ, and nothing can ever change that. However, I have yet to fully realize the extent to which I am a new creation—that will come in the next life. Even so, here’s the hope: Because I have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God (2 Cor. 6.11), and am a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5.17), with the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16), I am now, “with [an] unveiled face, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and am being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3.18). And in the words of John: “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is” (1 John 3.2).
Maturing in Christ is a process you and it will be in until we die or the Lord comes back. May we look to him to find our strength for today and the power to keep pursuing him. May we all commit to the pursuit of God and make it our life’s mission to “know him and the power of his resurrection from among the dead” (Phil. 3.11).
On the journey,