Be Perfect, By Grace.

As disciples of any teacher we have decided who we want to follow, who we want to become like and who we want to learn from. As Christians we have chosen to be the disciples of Jesus. In practical terms of living out our faith there are three bible passages that I refer to daily to help me to bring a practical measure, to that which, at times seems to be unmeasurable.


The first comes directly out of the mouth of Jesus during the "Sermon on the Mount".


Matthew 5:48 "You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect."


The second is from 2 Peter, a wonderfully short and practical book on Christian living. It expresses what the author really wanted to communicate before, what he believed to be his, soon to come death.


2 Peter 1:5-8 "In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ".


And finally the third is a description of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We are called to live by the spirit and in Matthew 7:16 we're told that "you will know them by their fruit". This text therefor gives us a measurement to see how much we are walking by spirit or by our flesh (to which we must die)


Galatians 5:22-26 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.


I believe that these three texts are all inextricably linked. It is my understanding that to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit is truly the walk to perfection. The pathway to fulfilling all Gods purposes and plans in our life, the ONLY way. God chose to give himself to us individually, personally the Holy Spirit! The indwelling God in us to help us in our lives of faith and God has also told us what that looks like!

Ignoring growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness and gentleness would be the GREATEST error in the life of one who wants to live according to and obedient to Christ Jesus. The two greatest commandments, to LOVE God and to LOVE others are itself a fruit of the Holy Spirit.


In 2 Peter we are instructed that we must make every effort implying that there IS something we must be committed and disciplined to practicing in our walk of faith. We're even instructed that doing so will protect us from being ineffective in our faith.


In Summary Jesus calls us to be perfect! (Matthew 5:48)

We are instructed to make disciplined decisions to grow in Godly character (2 Peter 1)

The fulfilment of which can only be realised as we walk by the spirit and He bears his fruit through us (Galatians 5)


IS PERFECTION EVEN POSSIBLE?

What is so striking about the commandments of God is that there was never any room for varying degrees. Trying was never added to a command of God. God's commands were instructions for being. BE perfect. Love your enemies.


WHY? He knows if we were to rely on our own strength or ability to be perfect there would be no hope! (in fact that's why Jesus had to come to save us, because based on the law, of works, all failed and were condemned) It is impossible.


PERFECTION IS ONLY POSSIBLE THROUGH GRACE

The requirements of the New Testament are all based on the grace of God. Grace that we receive through Jesus Christ.


"Grace begins where human ability ends." Derek Prince.


When we can do something in our own understanding, strength or wisdom we don't need Gods grace.

But when we come to the end of our best efforts we enter into the beginnings of grace. Recognising and submitting to this reality is humility. One can not please God without humility.


But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” James 4:6


God says, in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient".


Grace is not only the undeserved gift of salvation through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Grace is the continual, ongoing means of transformation for the disciple of Jesus.


Gods grace is sufficient, but we as believers need to partake of that grace through humility.


God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4: 6-8,10.


A humble, growing Christian is:


Not proud and submits to God. We believe in Gods word as given to us in simplicity. It says what it means and it means what is says. Humility submits to that and obeys it is humility because we are not greater in our understanding than God. This also will leads us to repentance regularly because we recognise sin as pride and rebellion against God.


Resists the devil: we do this because we do not want to dishonour God. "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons." 1 Corinthians 10:21


Draws near to God: we continually draw near to God through prayer, worship, reading his word, fellowship of believers, communion. We do this because in our humility we recognise god as being the only source of life we have. It says "God without you I am nothing". I need you. Gods response, as a loving Father is to draw near to us.


Our growth and transformation as disciples is by grace alone.


Let's go through and look more closely at what this means, the process and the elemental building blocks of 2 Peter and the Fruit of the Spirit over the coming weeks.




APPLICATION POINTS:

As we continue can I encourage you to begin each day coming to God in humility and through prayer ask for his grace to transform you by his spirit to - be perfect - so that in all you do you may honour Jesus.


Reflect upon you day / daily interactions in light of these texts. Ask yourself in what areas did your lack of humility resist the grace of God so that you could grow in likeness to Christ.


Be conscious of these areas when in them in the future and prayerfully allow God to guide you and show you what he wants to do in those interactions.


God bless



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