Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nobody's Perfect

What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’
Romans 3:9-10

Years ago almost every circus had a knife throwing act. The point of course was to miss...but only by very little. If you got too close you ended up hitting the beautiful assistant, and then you no longer had an act. But if you stayed too far away, it wasn't death defying enough to draw a crowd. So you had to try to land your knives as close to your assistant as possible without actually hitting her. It was an art of missing the mark by acceptable amounts. Why anybody would take this kind of risk is beyond me, but many of us take a similar approach to our walk with God.

In the above passage, Paul quotes from Psalm 14:1-3 saying "There is no one righteous; not even one." This is an indictment against all mankind. We have all sinned against God and deserve His wrath. None of us have the right to look down our noses at those who grew up outside of the church or those who appear to have participated in more sin and think that we are somehow better. We all stand guilty before God of the same charge: rebelling against His authority and living in sin. But I have often heard Christians reflect on a passage like Romans 3:10 by saying, “I’m not perfect and I’m never gonna be perfect.” This is a true statement, but most of the time what they really mean is, “I’m not perfect and I’m never gonna be perfect. So why try? It’s okay if I sin a little here and there. God will forgive me.”

A few weeks ago I mentioned Leviticus 11:44-45 to you which says, “Be holy because I am holy.” To be holy means to be set apart for God and untainted by sin. Ephesians 4:22-24 says that we are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 5:1 commands us to be imitators of God. In I Thessalonians 2:12, Paul urges us to live a life “worthy of God.” I’m sure that you get the point, so I won’t beat a dead horse. Here’s the deal: Scripture calls us to be holy, set apart for God’s use. Yet, many of us consciously decide to aim just below this mark. Instead of aiming to be like God, we give ourselves a little leeway. We aim to get close. We aim to be better than most, or maybe to be equally as good as everyone else. Like the knife thrower, our goal is to miss by an “acceptable amount.” But this is not honoring to God and it isn't the Christian life that we have been called to.

I implore you; don’t play this game, because it is as dangerous as the real knife throwing act. Sin is as deadly as a sharp blade. No matter how "small" the sins you choose to indulge in, they too will lead to death (Romans 6:23) and they are not God's best for you. Will we attain perfection in this world? No. We will all continue to fall short of that mark, but please do not use this truth as an excuse to test God's patience. Instead marvel at God 's wonderful grace. How awesome that he would chose to love wretched sinners like you and me.

For further reading this week…
   - I Peter 1:13-25- Be holy because you were redeemed by the precious
     blood of Christ.
   - Ephesians 4:22-24 and 5:1-21- Living in the light.
   - Romans 6:1-14 and 12:1-2- Dead to sin but alive to God.
   - Colossians 3:1-17- Set your hearts on things above.

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