All the introspection, analyzing, and agonizing over your weaknesses, failures, and faults are merely works of the flesh that will have to be repeated next week. Battles never cease! “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
If you’re trying to attain a state of sinless perfection, you’re doomed to disappointment. You’ll never make it! Not even the apostle Paul counted himself to have attained (Philippians 3:12). He kept making mistakes for the rest of his life and committed a classic blunder by trying to please the conservative religious leaders of his day. That permanently cost him his freedom, and ultimately his head (Acts chapter 21). Nevertheless, he was a good apostle and faithful evangelist who did a tremendous job in spite of all his shortcomings, failures, sins, and mistakes.
If you think the time’s coming when you’ll no longer have to fight sin and the “old self” (Ephesians 4:22), you’re mistaken. I’m still at it. How about you? That’s why we have so many victories: We have so many battles, and so much to fight against—mostly our own stinking selves! God knows we should be growing, passing a few tests, surviving a few trials, and having a few triumphs and testimonies, but if you think you’re ever going to become some sort of “sinless saint,” I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed!
Remember, love never fails. I have a hard time correcting other people for the same mistakes that I’m guilty of myself, and of which most of us are guilty—and sometimes even worse. So about all I can do is bawl them out momentarily, confess what a horrible mess I have made along the same line, cry a little, pray a little and sympathize a little; then we hug each other, forgive each other, and try again.
“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).—And, let’s face it, you’ve got plenty of them! I think you are going to find out sooner or later that the “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) that God is going to use to keep you humble is some besetting sin which will take a lot of the grace of God for you to keep overcoming, and you’ll probably keep battling it for the rest of your days. This is what helps keep us in shape spiritually. As I’ve often said, “There’s no triumph without a trial, no testimony without a test, no victory without a battle—so keep fighting!”
You’re bound to win sometimes, and when you lose, it will keep you humble and help others to know you’re only human—and it will help you to give God all the glory! I do not believe in the doctrines of eradication of sin or mere suppression of sin and temptation that some people teach, but rather in the good old Bible doctrine of habitation: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Jesus declared, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He even said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do” (John 5:19). And Paul later wrote of Him, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The “holiness” doctrine of eradication is all too often a vain show of self-righteous, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou hypocrisy!
You might as well face it: You can’t get the victory! It’s impossible for you to get the victory! Only Christ can. Let go and let God! You can’t do it yourself. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Only God can give salvation. You can’t earn it, work for it, work it up, pray it down, pray it through, or become so wholly sanctified that you’re some kind of sinless saint!
You haven’t got anybody’s righteousness except Christ’s, and He’s the only One who can give it to you. Your own righteousness stinks! It’s “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). So quit trying so hard in your own strength! Let God do it. Let the light in, and the darkness will flee of itself.
Get so full of the Spirit and the Word that you don’t have time to worry about your own stinking self or how bad you are. Of course you’re bad! So are all the rest of us! Only Jesus is good! I gave up on myself a long time ago, like Paul did when he said, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:17-25). Hallelujah! He’s the only One who can do it!
You’re glorifying Satan when you talk about your sins. You’re glorifying self when you talk about your faults, because you’re talking about yourself instead of Jesus.
You just can’t possibly tell people how bad you are, so quit trying. Let’s talk about Jesus! And let’s avoid being harsh on others for poor little blunders of the mind rather than sins of the heart. Let’s forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).
We all need to apply to ourselves what Jesus said to the self-righteous hypocrites: “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13). So for God’s sake, let’s remember that only Jesus can do it. Let’s quit trying to legislate righteousness. It’s a gift of God! Let God do it! Love never fails! Jesus never fails! What everybody needs is love. If they’re not going to find it with Jesus and amongst His followers, you and me, where are they going to find it?
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