“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~Jesus
Here is something I heard from a well-known Christian teacher:
“God doesn’t require us to be perfect–He made us, and He knows we’re human and will make mistakes. Our job is to get up each day and do our best to serve God with the gifts He has given us. And when we make mistakes, we must get right with God, receive His forgiveness, and go on.”
Now, at first glance, this statement looks great, doesn’t it? A lot of people would say, “I don’t see anything wrong with it at all.”
For the Type A personality like myself, it actually looks awesome! It gives us goals to strive for, it leaves room for mistakes, and it even says God doesn’t require us to be perfect. For a time in my life, I would have eaten this up with a spoon, stood to my feet, and clapped with all vigor. But–everything about this statement is incorrect when you begin to understand the New Covenant, which is the only Covenant available to the world. With all due respect to this teacher, here’s what’s wrong:
- God does require us to be perfect. We not only have to be perfect, but we have to be perfect on God’s level. Jesus said so: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The problem is, if you don’t understand the New Covenant, you will think Jesus is referring to your actions and attitudes–He’s not. Jesus is talking about your spirit. Your spirit must be perfect like God is perfect. After this happens–once–your actions and attitudes will catch up to your spiritual perfection over the course of your lifetime. Rest assured, you will not reach the finish line of perfect actions and attitudes until you shed this shell of flesh (see Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 15:52). You can only become perfect in spirit by having God kill off your old spirit–by grace through faith–and then at the same time, He gives you a new spirit which is connected to Him forever. When this happens you become a slave to spiritual perfection because your spirit can never be changed once it’s born again; just like your flesh can never be changed once it’s born the first time (see John 3:6-7, Ephesians 1:13, 2:8-9, Romans 6:6-7,18, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Our job is not to serve God, but to enjoy being a member of His family. Again, Jesus debunks this servant/master mentality with the disciples: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business” (see John 15:15). We are on a higher level than servants! We are children of God! (See John 1:12) What kind of good father would call his children servants? Not a good one! Good fathers love their kids and don’t expect them to “serve” them. They expect them to enjoy being their child! They expect them to be confident in their lineage! And yes, I get it, He is Lord–that’s a no brainer. But for us, He’s so much more. He’s Daddy! (See Romans 8:15).
- We are to use our gifts to build up the Body of Christ, not serve. Yes, I’m picking at words here, but the word serve has a connotation of requirement, of “Do this or else!” Jesus served us, and we have a heart to do the same for others because He lives in us. But when we create a law out of servitude, the good news of the gospel goes out the window and duty is created. Religious manipulation is created…resentment is created. Do you see where legislation to serve can lead? Friend, remember, the entire reason Jesus came and went was to give you freedom! (See John 8:36, Galatians 5:1). We don’t have to do anything! What would happen if we didn’t? Punishment? NO! What do you think the Cross was for?! Our punishment! Therefore, use your gifts however you want, whenever you want–and enjoy your life! Yeah, enjoy your life! There’s no pressure on you! The Holy Spirit will lead you into a healthy balance, trust me. You won’t go crazy with this or sit passive.
- We get right with God one time, not each time we make mistakes. What is a mistake according to God? A sin. And what does God require for sin to be paid for? Death (see Romans 6:23). And what did Jesus do at the Cross? He died. By my amazing math calculations we no longer have to pay for our sins. If we do, then God is a liar and the Cross was a waste of time. This subject–getting right with God, once, through faith in the Cross–can be tied into number one on this list. Our spirits are perfect because we get new ones (Hebrews 10:14). They stay perfect because Jesus will never die again (Hebrews 7:25, 10:10). Remember, it’s death that must happen when we sin, and Jesus already died. He isn’t dying again and again for each mistake we make. So when we sin, rather than feel condemned for a week, or work hard to get back into rightness with God, why not do something radical? Have some remorse. Remorse over sin is healthy. Not guilt, not denial, not condemnation, but remorse (see Romans 8:1). Secondly, turn away from it. Ask God for help with it. You can even say sorry if you want to, but you are not getting more righteousness with Him by repenting and apologizing. You are right with Him for good because of who you are! (See 2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 1:22). Begin to separate your who from your do, thank God for His commitment to you, and move on. Form these habits and you’ll be amazed at how much less you sin–not more.
- You have received God’s forgiveness. Every believer has. This is a past-tense event. God is not handing out new forgiveness to you each day. Why? Because forgiveness requires blood. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (see Hebrews 9:22). Is this starting to make sense? Where did the blood come from that you needed for God’s forgiveness? Jesus! Your spotless lamb! It was Jesus’ blood shed at the Cross that forgave you once and for all time! You believed He forgave you and He actually did! You are spiritually perfect and completely forgiven! The only way this can be reversed is if Jesus dies again and that ain’t happening! (See Hebrews 7:25).
A prayer for you: Good morning, Dad! It’s a great day today! I know that every day is a great day because it’s a gift from you, but I’m feeling really good! Thank you for another chance to enjoy life on planet earth! Right now, lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Many of them might be taken back by what I’ve written today, and I understand that. Even I would have been, at one point. But as you’ve taken me deeper into the truth of the New Covenant, you’ve taught me that your Spirit brings rest, unconditional love, and easiness. That was hard for me to grasp! I want something to do! And I want to be the best at it! But all along, you wanted to use this personality of mine to teach people how to strive to rest–but first, I had to learn it for myself. I think I’m doing it. I think I’m using my gifts and calling properly. In this rest, you’ve motivated me the most! It’s a strange paradox what you’ve done! Please begin to teach these dear readers that you motivate us from the heart, organically, without stress! Take them deeper into the knowledge of your grace. Take them deeper into the knowledge of your unconditional love through Jesus. It’s so amazing. Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!