Monday, November 11, 2013

Made Perfect by the Flesh?

“Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
Galatians 3:3

“For the just shall live by faith.”Galatians 3:11b

I have been thinking about how Christians down through the ages have slipped into the thinking that somehow, even though we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ, we need to continue in the flesh to be justified before Him.

I believe some born-again Christians slip into it with the idea that they can “lose” their salvation if they forsake their faith or sin a sin that can remove their salvation in Christ. (I may be oversimplifying here for the sake of brevity. Forgive me. I mean no disrespect to my brothers and sisters in Christ that hold this view. I only mean to illustrate how I believe this is one way, in my opinion based on what I read from Scripture, we can slip into a justified-by-the-flesh mentality.)

I also believe Biblical fundamentalists of all kinds can get caught up in the trap of believing that separation from the world proves they are justified before God. What I mean is someone can have the conviction that the ladies in their family should wear skirts. In so doing, the flesh has a tendency to view others who do not share in that conviction as somehow less justified in God’s eyes. And vice versa. Those who do not hold that conviction can look down on those who do. Both are wrong, in my view, and I believe an application of Romans 14 fits here. (Again, I am oversimplifying for the sake of brevity. I believe there are those who have that particular conviction but do not have the belief that they are better than another, as well I believe there are those who do not have that conviction but who are kind and respectful to those that do.)

For me, I have a tendency (which is just a bad habit) of looking on the outward choices of an individual and then making harsh and critical judgments about his or her walk with God. One such example is the way I look down on those who do not have a commitment to attending the Lord’s house regularly. I believe they are backslidden and not walking with the Lord, which may be the case, but unfortunately, I don't stop there. I condemn them for their “deficiency” in their walk with God, which is not spiritual at all, and judge them harshly, even sometimes getting angry toward them. This is so wrong, and I can see that it is wrong when I read 2 Timothy 2:24-26, the passage on being a gentle servant.

When I step back and look at the whole person, whom I condemned, I feel so ashamed because I can see they are more advanced (for lack of a better word) in other areas of the Christian life, areas that I am continuing to work on, such as my temper, for the sake of honest disclosure.

There are so many examples I can go into. Suffice it to say, I think what I am learning is that none of us is perfect and none of us can be made perfect by following “law” or rules for our flesh. While some of these self-prescribed rules are beneficial and rest on Scriptural principles and personal convictions God has directed us to, we are not made perfect in them and we are not justified by them. I think the Lord is trying to tell me that I need to understand that to walk with Him is to Walk in the Spirit, not the flesh, period. Principles of separation and principles toward holiness are the result, but they should never be the goal for my own justification.

God has justified me already. I do not have to do one thing to keep it, to earn it, and to prove it.

Dear Lord, help me to learn more about what it means to Walk in the Spirit and to be justified by faith, and let the fruits of my walk be as they should be, from the heart in obedience to what You show me on my journey.

Luang Prahbang, Laos. (2000)

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