Email to a young Christian named Caitlyn,
Christians can only trust in the imputed perfection that Christ reckons to us. This is where our sinless perfection is, in Christ. We all have besetting tendencies to sin. Ones sinful inclinations and faults may be in a different area than another, but we all have to admit our faults to one another. None of us have ever met a sinless Christian. We are all wrestling with our old sinful natures. We are all struggling to overcome in the power of the Spirit. NONE of us are the people that we SHOULD be, but thanks be to God we are NOT the people we were in the past. As we grow in grace and a knowledge of Christ, maturity DOES take place eventhough we may barely notice it.
As one looks back on ones past since becoming a Christian, all must frequently say to ourselves, "how could I have been so hard-hearted and unkind. How could I have committed all that sin?" Even after becoming a repentant believing Christian all have said and done things of which we are totally ashamed. and of which we reproach ourselves.
Christians will always groan within themselves as the Spirit opens our eyes and ears to see the sin in our lives. The older we get, the more our praise to God increases for His marvelous mercy and goodness to the "chief of sinners" that we all feel ourselves to be. When believers get to heaven, all will cast their crowns at His feet and sing the song of Moses that He ALONE is worthy, for He alone is good and perfectly righteous. We are always debtors, not to the holy Law of God, but rather to His infinite unmerited grace and forgiving love for His faltering fumbling children.
The fact is, Caitlyn, that even after we overcome one besetting sin, the Spirit reveals more and more of our carnal nature. There never is a point in our lives where we will be able to feel that we have "arrived" to the perfection to which we are called. Higher than our thoughts can even reach is God's ideal for His children. But the Spirit comforts us in our infirmities and points us to the cross of Christ so that we never despair of eternal life which is by unmerited grace ALONE.
You ask "am I overlooking something?" I don't think that you are "overlooking" something, but just like all of us, we all need to be trusting more in the finished atoning work of Christ and find more and more of our peaceful rest in His imputed perfection. The more that we trust in His "imputed" righteousness, the more we will be filled with the Spirit and walk in His "imparted" righteousness. The more that we walk in His imparted righteousness, the more we will trust ONLY in His imputed righteousness.
Bill Diehl, editor