Let’s start with the bad news. You are a sinner, who sins. It’s easier to sin than to do right. And you cannot do anything to save yourself. I’ve used the term before, we are not just insufficient, we are non-sufficient. We are completely incapable of saving ourselves. We can’t even sort of help to save ourselves. We bring such negatives to the field that we move further away from being saved in ourselves.
The good news is really great news. There is a Savior who can completely save us. Christ died to pay for our sins, He took our sins upon himself. He lived a completely righteous life of perfection and that righteousness is imputed to us. Our sin is paid for, and we get the credit of His rightousness. How wonderful is that!
As great as that news is, we are still here in this Fallen world surrounded by the effects of that Fall as others sin, as we continue to sin, and illness and pain fill our lives and those of our loved ones. The goal of this life is not happiness. Living a life of faith in Christ as our Savior is not a one-time victory that we win and then have a life of ease and pleasure for the rest of our days. The goal isn’t complete success and decisive victory here in this life. If that were the goal, that is what God would do in us. But He doesn’t do it that way. He calls us to live out our faith day after day.
James 1:2-4 tells us “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
We also see the concept of being perfect in Hebrews 2:10
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Hebrews 5:8-9 and Hebrews 7:28 also mention this concept of Jesus being made perfect through sufferings. Yet we know Christ was perfect and had no sin in Him. What does perfect mean for Him?According to Merriam Webster perfect is defined as satisfying all requirements – accurate. Lacking in no essential detail – complete. One definition (mentioned as obsolete) said certain, sure, contented, satisfied.
Christ fulfilled His purpose in all that He did and experienced, including suffering and trials. We certainly need to be made perfect in that we need to be changed, transformed to be righteous and conformed to the image of Christ. But we also are made perfect in persevering, trusting God’s promises in all circumstances. We fill our purpose and meet the goal set for us.
How do we do this? How do we meet trials and have our faith tested? We must have faith, and we must have that faith strengthened. Faith in what? In our Savior, Jesus Christ, who then indwells us and strengthens us and grows our faith. The next verse in James shows us how to meet trials, and identifies what we might lack and need to gain to be perfect and complete. James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Wisdom is knowledge of what is proper or reasonable; good sense or judgment. Wisdom is also personified in the Bible and often refers to Jesus himself. Our faith in Christ, reading His Word, meditating on what He teaches us change our perspective, the way we view reality. We need this perspective to understand and remember our purpose, to change how we view trials, and how we view the promises of the sovereign God so when our faith is tested we are steadfast and grow in perseverance. So we can be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
First published in the Fall 2014 Newsletter at HARP.