Monday, March 28

A Higher Standard

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.—Ephesians 1:4

Be holy and blameless—sounds easy, right? Wrong! I don’t know about you, but I am a far cry from being holy and blameless. (Just ask my husband.) Can any of us hope to live up to the standard of perfection that God decrees?

Because of our humanity, each of us is naturally sinful. Left to our own devices, we cannot possibly make the right decisions or keep our wits about us when the pressure is on to live a life that is pure and blameless. Whether we like it or not, most of the time we make the wrong decision and push ourselves farther away from living a perfect life as God intended. Is there any hope for us? Are we just doomed to keep messing up and making bad choices? Despite our multitudes of imperfections and failures, our situation is not hopeless. God offers us hope in today’s verse.

He chose us. He saw us in our state of self-serving sinfulness even before we were capable of speech. He examined us carefully, including our flaws and imperfections, and decided to pluck us off the shelf anyway. In choosing us, he gives us the opportunity to become far greater than we were in our original state. God chose us to be holy and blameless. Knowing that God sees such incredible potential in me is a very affirming thought! What’s even better is the knowledge that I don’t have to rely on my own abilities in order to become holy and blameless.

God will not leave us on our own for awhile and then come back to check that we've been doing well at living blameless, pure and holy lives. God chose us to be his children in spite of the fact that we sin constantly. He knows and sees every stupid thing we've ever done, and every stupid thing we will do...and he loves us anyway. The next few verses of the first chapter of Ephesians tell about how he sent Jesus to pay for our sins because he loves us so much.

When Jesus died on the cross, he took upon himself all of the ugly sins committed by all of mankind throughout history. He took on the punishment that should have been ours. He took on the punishment that should have been mine. To me, that is a sobering reality. I find it nearly incomprehensible that all I have to do to be made into a completely new person is believe in Christ's death and resurrection. That is the life to which God has called us, the life for which he chose us. God has designed us in his image.

Does my faith in Christ make me perfect, holy or blameless? Hardly! I will still do stupid things and I will still sin on a daily basis. I can’t change the fact that I am human and have Adam’s original sin built into my DNA. The change that happens is in the way that God sees me. By taking on Christ’s righteousness, I become clothed in the garment of his perfection. When I repent of my sins, God gives me a clean slate each time.

God chose us to be holy and blameless. We cannot do that without the saving power of the cross. God sent his son Jesus, and he sent the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to convict us when we sin. Living blameless, pure, holy lives without focusing on God is impossible. Make him real in your life. Ask him to give you strength to avoid situations where you know you're going to falter. Even when you are overcome by your own sinful tendencies, be assured that God still loves you and is standing ready to offer a second, third, fourth...ten thousandth chance. He has chosen us to live by a higher standard, and enables us to live up to it.

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