If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. Phillipians 3:4-7 NIV
Brace yourself… there is no perfect Christian*. Sadly, when we accepted Christ into our hearts we weren’t made “perfect” – we were made righteous and there is a BIG difference between PERFECT and RIGHTEOUS.
Those who are looking for perfection are typically those who make a practice of judging the outer appearance and seeking validation based on status or other prominent position. To these people, a “perfect” score is 100%, a “perfect” car is brand new and has never been driven, a “perfect” pet is one with pedigree etc, etc, etc.
Righteousness on the other hand has absolutely nothing to do with perfection, and has everything to do with FAITH…
Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Romans 4:20-24
While perfection is something we may choose to aspire to, righteousness has been freely given to ALL who believe in God and that he raised Jesus from the dead. Our faith in God and our belief in the resurrection of Christ, has made us righteous.
THE DARKNESS … perfection isn’t enough
The author of Philippians was a man once named Saul. Saul prided himself on living his life as a staunch and perfect practicing Jew. He did everything perfect. He followed the Mosaic Law to the tee. As a matter of fact in his own words, he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews”. While being a Pharisee was in Saul’s original plan for his life, God had different plans for him and as Saul was on his way to persecute more Christians, he was blinded on the road to Damascus. (Don’t loose hope for your family! Saul didn’t choose the God way of life, the God way of life chose him!)
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”…
Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. Acts 9:3-4, 8-9
Saul remained blind for three days and ate nothing. He was lead by the Lord deep into a darkness soul and body, in which only the light of the salvation of Christ could penetrate. Whereas most people are found “in the dark” metaphorically before finding Christ, Saul was literally in a dark place. The Benson Commentary states: “And when his eyes were open, he saw no man — He was incapable of discerning objects; for his nerves had been so affected with the glory of that light which had shone from the body of Jesus, that he had lost the power of sight”.
Can you imagine finding yourself stumbling around in a darkness SO dark you are incapable of discerning objects? It’s hard to imagine!
CHRIST’S PENETRATING SALVATION
As soon as Saul is prayed for and receives the Holy Spirit he is immediately restored.
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Acts 9:17-19
I find it interesting this grown man who hasn’t eaten for three days chooses as his first act of salvation to get baptized! Go Saul! If more churches would grab ahold of this! Forget the baptizing classes and the appointment setting schedules, get those hungry souls water baptized as soon as possible! Eventually the Lord changes Saul’s name to Paul, and as a result of Paul’s conversion and his commitment to Christ he has written between at least 13 books out of the 66 books in the Bible!
Paul is an excellent example of a believer becoming a new creation. In yesterday’s blog I wrote how as new creations in Christ the old ways of living under a low-lying cloud are gone. In Paul’s experience his belief in Christ made him righteous the SECOND he believed. Just like with you and me! The salvation of Christ PERMANENTLY penetrated the darkness of a lost and hurting
PUT the PURSUIT of PERFECTION in the PAST
“Perfection” is completely subject to personal opinion. Is a Mercedes the perfect car? Is BMW, Audi, or Toyota? Does a man need to have a beard to be a perfect specimen of a man? Does a woman need to be a size 4,6,8 … + in order to be perfect? The reality is there IS NO perfect this or that. What we as Christians must focus on is righteousness. Are we righteous? In God’s eyes… YES! There is nothing else for us. Just listen to Paul when he writes “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”
- A perfect score PLUS Christ is no greater than our righteousness in Christ alone.
- A perfect body PLUS Christ is no greater than our righteousness in Christ alone.
- A perfect bank account PLUS Christ is no greater than our righteousness in Christ alone.
- A perfect wardrobe PLUS Christ is no greater than our righteousness in Christ alone.
- A perfect family PLUS Christ is no greater than our righteousness in Christ alone.
Our righteousness in Christ is ALL we have, and our righteousness in Christ is ALL we need.
Jessica and her husband Jeff have been married for 21 years and currently live in the Silicon Valley with their seven children. We at WHM encourage you to share this message if it has blessed you. Wholeness is for everyone! You can also check out our new category tabs on our site www.wholeheartedministries.com for more subjects such as Salvation 101, Marriage 101, Salvation 101, Money 101, Parenting 101, and Minute Motivations. We are working tirelessly to update our site, thank you for being patient with us as we work through this time of transition! You can subscribe to our daily blog here.
*(I actually believe we are Christ followers, since being “Christian” sounds more like a religion than a practice). I also found myself proof-reading this post and when I was finished I said to myself “perfect”… old habits dye hard. 😉