The Love of Christ is the end-all and be-all of our Christian lives. We can never live without it. We can never express Christ without experiencing Him in us. This intimate union we have with Christ through the Person of the Holy Spirit is the flow we live by. God's love stretches beyond our limited minds and His acceptance of us as we are and not as we should be, becomes the driving force of our service to Him. His love compels us, and we are never to move from this Reality. A Reality beyond what the physical world can conceive. A Reality that Transcends our weaknesses and causes us to live in the Spontaneity of Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).
I have often seen in the Christian world the fleshly need to try and please God out of our own feeble humanity. We get up one morning and we've determined in our minds that we're going to perform well for the day spiritually. Maybe thinking, "Today, I'm going to make St. Francis of Assissi look like a piker." And when we fail for the day, we often think to ourselves, "I'm a failure. I'm condemned. I keep doing the same garbage over and over again. I keep sinning. I can't stop. Oh, wretched man that I am...I'm not like Paul Washer, I'm not like Leonard Ravenhill, I'm not like all these amazing preachers on SermonIndex who are so holy." And therein lies our faulty reasoning. We think we need to be at a certain level before God can love us. We think that if we get our act together, pull up our bootstraps, and do everything in the flesh that somehow God will finally "notice me." "See God, I ain't so bad, right?" It becomes a life of comparison rather than eating from the Tree of Life (John 17:3, Genesis 2:9, Revelation 22:2).
The performance trap is a deadly one. It makes us believe that our salvation is dependent upon "what I do for God, what I've earned from God through my works." When we have a good day, we pat ourselves in the back and gloat in our self-righteousness. But, if it's a downpour, we hate and berate ourselves thinking that we've completely blown it. The constant looking at our performance leads us to fluctuate. And the sad part is that when we live in condemnation, the shame and guilt actually fuels us to sin even more because our addictions seem to make us feel a little better inside temporarily. It is as if our worth hangs on what we do. We've really put the cart before the horse when doing comes before belonging (being). And that being is "In Christ."
We see God as holy, and RIGHTLY SO! But, to think that we can achieve His holiness apart from His Life in us and acceptance of us is clearly absurd. The Gospel calls us into an intimate being with Christ. It calls us to recognize that our acceptance is ultimately found in His Person, His acceptance, His love, His righteousness, and His life for us (1 Corinthians 1:30). We can't live the Christian life. It is impossible for man to do so (Luke 18:27). But, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" can make that possible in us (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:27, Philippians 4:13). The Gospel also calls us to rest in His keeping power (Philippians 1:6, 2:13, Jude 24-25, 1 Peter 1:5, Jeremiah 32:40). When we entrust our souls for God to keep, we ultimately realize that we don't maintain our salvation. He does! Apart from His keeping power, the fall into sin is inevitable. New Covenant Christianity tells us that God swears by Himself to not only keep His end of the bargain, but ours as well (Ezekiel 36:25-27, Jeremiah 31:31-34). In the Book of Acts, the first martyr of the Church was Stephen. It was noted in Acts 7:55 that Stephen was "full of the Holy Spirit" when he was stoned to death. The only reason why Stephen was able and willing to embrace death was because of the Spontaneity of the Holy Spirit within. He knew that through Christ he belonged to God and that the law of the Spirit of Life was what carried him unto the end. In the end, it had nothing to do with Stephen and everything to do with God.
Dear Christian, when you find yourself in your failures, look up...and see what Christ says to you about you. You are not defined by what you've done, you are defined by who Christ is and His love for you as you are and not as you should be. When you believe yourself to be God's child through Christ's work, the power of sin has no hold on you because you are no longer under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). The law and self-effort empowers sin (Romans 7, 1 Corinthians 15:56, but the enjoyment of His grace (The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus) sets us free (Romans 8:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:57). It is not, "I'll change so that God will love me." God flips that around and says to you, "I love you, so that you will change." (1 John 4:19) As you rest in His acceptance of you and surrender yourself to His keeping power, you will notice how you transcend your sin, your flesh, and the world spontaneously in His Spirit. Because it's not you doing it, it's Him! He lives that life in you, not you. You can't be like Jesus, only Jesus can be Himself in you. You will experience a peace that does not rest on the whims of our performance (up and down). Rather, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3) There's is not an ounce of performance one can contribute to salvation. Spurgeon called it "All of Grace." Watchman Nee called it "The Normal Christian Life." He carries us to the end and we will get no glory out of it! The glory belongs to Christ! Hallelujah! This is the Overcoming Life! The question now is do we choose to have faith in the devil's words or in Christ's words?
Satan: "I'm a failure. I'm condemned. God can't love me. I failed, I'm going to hell. Saved by Fruit, I am not righteous. I am worthless. I am a sinner. I don't belong to God. I need to try harder. I am going to fall. God can't forgive me. I'm weak. I'm not doing enough. I'm not good enough for God. I can't."
Christ: "I am accepted in Christ. There is no condemnation, Nothing shall separate me. Secured in Him, not in works. Saved by the Root - Christ. Through Christ I am righteous. I'm purchased - full of worth. I'm a Saint in Christ. I belong to God. I rest in His grace and power. He carries me till the end. He has forgiven me. I am weak, but He is strong in me. It's Done, It is Finished! He makes me good enough. He can!"
"The greatest miracle is that God can take an unholy man from an unholy world, make that man holy, put him back into an unholy world, and KEEP him holy." -Leonard Ravenhill
Look away from yourself and look to Christ! Do not try to keep yourself, but rest in the God who keeps you! He loves you dearly and He likes you too (Zephaniah 3:17). Question the lies of Satan and embrace the truths of our Heavenly Father revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord through the Power of His Holy Spirit.