An Encouraging Word...
One struggle that every Christian faces is our ongoing battle with sin. Although I’ve been a Christian for nearly half a century, I find that I still face temptations daily. What is worse, I give into these temptations far more often than I would want you to know. So when Jesus says, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect,” does God really expect me to be perfect? How good does God really expect us to be?
As I wrestled personally with this question some years ago, I read an excellent book entitled the Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I found this book helpful in my own personal struggle for holiness. Bridges writes,
The Apostle John said, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin” (I John 2:1). The whole purpose of John’s letter, he says, is that we not sin. One day as I was studying this chapter I realized that my personal life’s objective regarding holiness was less than that of John’s. He was saying, in effect, “Make it your aim not to sin.” As I thought about this, I realized that deep within my heart my real aim was not to sin very much. I found it difficult to say, “Yes, Lord, from here on I will make it my aim not to sin.” I realized God was calling me that day to a deeper level of commitment to holiness than I had previously been willing to make.
Can you imagine a soldier going into battle with the aim of “not getting hit very much”? The very suggestion is ridiculous. His aim is not to get hit at all! Yet if we have not made a commitment to holiness without exception, we are like a soldier going into battle with the aim of not getting hit very much. We can be sure if that is our aim, we will be hit – not with bullets, but with temptation over and over again.
God hasn’t called us to be good. He has called us to be perfect. But we’ve failed too many times to believe we can actually be perfect. Still, God’s Word tells us to make it our aim not to sin. Are you willing to do that? Jonathan Edwards, one of the great preachers of American History, made a personal resolution that recognized his own struggle with sin. I encourage each of us to daily make Edward’s resolution our own. “Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”