Lately, Christians have been on the receiving end of sharp criticism, because apparently, we hold ourselves up as perfect Christians, and we are not living up to our claim. I think it is important to recognize, true Christians do not hold themselves up as perfect people. As a matter of fact, the more you read your Bible and grow closer to the Lord; you realize what a wretched human being you really are.
The Bible says, … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23). We have all fallen short of the glory of God, and we all deserve to go to hell, but there is good news. Paul did not end with this verse. He went on to say:
being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:24-26).
There is not a single perfect Christian in this world. There was once a Man who walked on this earth and He was perfect. His name is Jesus and through Him and His sacrifice on the Cross, we have been set free from the penalty of sin. We have been redeemed by His blood. His righteousness has been put on our account, so when God looks at us, He does not see our sinfulness but Christ’s righteousness.
That is Christianity in a nutshell—the perfection of Christ, our Redeemer. There has never been a single Christian who could enter heaven for eternity outside of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Not a single follower of Christ has lived a sinless life. Not one person has earned salvation. Since Adam and Eve, humanity has been heading for hell, because we are ALL sinners and need a Redeemer.
As a new believer, I really did not fully understand my need for a redeemer. I was a straight “A” student, valedictorian of my class in high school and I followed the law. I was not a rebellious teen; as I was too busy raising my younger siblings, while my single mother worked. Even when I gave my life to the Lord in college, I thought I was pretty good. I did not recognize the magnitude of my sinful nature and the power of the lust of my flesh.
When I began to read and study my Bible, I realized what a sinner I really am. I read about Paul the Apostle, who suffered great persecution to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was a true Bible hero, and yet he said: O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)
He told Timothy: This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (1 Timothy 1:15).
Paul was one of the most faithful servants of the Lord, and yet he recognized his sinfulness. He called himself the chief of sinners. No matter how much he served Jesus, he could not earn his way into heaven. He could not do enough good works to balance out the wickedness of his own heart and his own actions.
Paul’s life and example are the truth of Christianity. There are no perfect Christians, just followers of Christ who have been perfected in Him: But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him (1 John 2:5).
I honestly believe true Christians know they are sinners saved by grace, and they do not try to put on a show to pretend they are perfect. The real source behind the lie of Christian perfection comes from non-believers and atheists. Because we hold the teachings of Christ in the Bible as the standard we must attain, we must think we are perfect. That is their logic or reasoning. The problem with their logic is the absence of Christ.
Without full knowledge of Christ and His Word, you cannot understand the standard. As Christians, we are called to be ‘like Christ”. That is what the word Christian means. While we are called to be like Christ, every Christian knows they fall short. They know they can never achieve His perfection, but we can live our lives better as we try to be more like Him than like the world. We can have victory in Christ when we deny the lusts of the flesh and the temptations of world, but the victory is only in Christ. Without Him, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23).