"With one sacrifice he made perfect forever those who are being made holy."
I love this verse because it is a verse that actually mentions salvation and growth in the same sentence. Satan loves for us to be focused only on one aspect of our salvation at a time. When we focus only on the initial salvation--being saved from the penalty from our sin--we can be content in our sin knowing Christ paid for it. On the other hand, when we focus only on sanctification process of growth, we live in fear and don't enjoy our relationship with the Lord. Some even keep trying to earn salvation and never enjoy the peace that is available because of the finished work of Christ. When we forget about the future promise of being free from the presence of sin in our lives and in the lives of others we can end up feeling despair.
First, let's focus on the first part of the verse. With Christ’s death He made us perfect forever. Do we really believe that? Do we believe that Jesus took all of our sin in His body suffered God's wrath for our sin? John 1:29 says, "…the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." These verses indicate God is not waiting for us to mess up so that He can write it in a book to hold over our heads. He is not keeping score. The truth is He has taken our sin away forever--never to use it against us. That is an amazing truth! Scripture talks about us being clothed in righteousness. A King has adopted us and when we arrived in His Kingdom we were given a new set of clothes befitting the King's kids. It would not make sense for us to have put these new clothes on top of our old dirty smelly rags. The king totally took our clothes of unrighteousness away! God totally takes our sin and clothes us in His righteousness. That is grace and mercy all rolled up in one.
What we do with the knowledge of His grace and mercy is crucial. Shouldn’t we become better
people? I would suggest that the answer to that questions is a resounding, “Yes!” But, it is not to secure or prove our salvation, it is a response of love to His radical love. Becoming better people won’t make us any more saved or anymore loved. When we trusted Christ, we were adopted and became His children. We were sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of Redemption. Nothing we do will ever add to that and nothing we do can diminish that. We can have complete and perfect peace with God, because there is now no condemnation for those in Christ.
However, He has left us here on earth to glorify Him and to reflect our Father's nature to those in
the world. God could have instantly transformed us or taken us to heaven, but He chose not to. It is as we serve each other out of love that He is glorified. It is as our bitterness is transformed into forgiveness that He is glorified. It is as our anger is turned to peace, as our fear gives way to courage, as our selfishness is replaced by gratefulness that we will glorify Him. It is as our judgmental attitude is replaced with graciousness, as our condoning sin is replaced by speaking His Truth in love, and our hatred is replaced with sacrificial love that He is glorified. It is growth, not human perfectionism or remaining in sin that glorifies Him. It is as we are changed and molded into His likeness so that we reflect His character to the world around us that He is glorified.
God did all of the work for our salvation on the cross and is simply drawing us to Himself. He has instructed us to renew our minds with His word and instructed us to love each other. He has exhorted us to serve each other and to examine our hearts so that we can rid ourselves of the sins that entangle us. Is that too much for Him to ask, in light of what He has done for us? Sometimes we mistakenly think it is. We need to remember there is no shame in being human because Christ created us, He knows we are but dust. He knew we were born in a fallen state and we would sin every day and He still chose to die for every sin. Yet, He asks us to pursue Him, His kingdom, and His righteousness so men will see our good deeds and glorify Him. What is the benefit of it all? It is through a day-by-day, moment-by-moment walk with Him that allows us to become more holy and develop a deep intimacy with Him and it is through the intimacy that we experience His love and His power. Too often we forget the most important benefit of knowing God, is God Himself.
Are we basking in His sacrifice, but taking advantage of His grace? Or have we forgotten that His sacrifice was once and for all and trying to earn His "favor" through our lives, depriving ourselves of His peace? Hopefully, our pursuit of holiness is born out of a heart that is truly at peace with its Creator. Hopefully, our pursuit of holiness is born out of a desire to express love for Him and a desire to abide in the presence of His love. Hopefully, our pursuit of holiness is born out of a desire to make Him known through a lifestyle that reflects a heart forever changed by Love. We have been made perfect and we are being made holy; are we fighting the process or joining it?
Prayer: Lord, You are so gracious to have made us perfect forever. You are also gracious in making that holiness a practical reality in this life. Help us to keep our eyes focused on Christ and to never grow tired of growing. Help us to live in such ways that You are glorified in all that we do or say. Amen.