2002-02-12 - It Is All Over With Me
1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
"It is all over with me, I shall never paint again, I am a ruined man," said a great painter to his wife, with tears in his eyes, after he had finished a painting. She asked, "Why?" "Because," he said, "that painting contents and satisfies me; it realizes my idea of what a painting should be and therefore I am sure my power is gone, for that power lies in having ideals which I cannot reach, something yet beyond me which I am striving after."
Such sentiments the Christian can never have regarding their faith and practice. We are always striving to grow and always seeking to become more and more like Christ who was perfect as God the Father is. Matthew 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect," is not the great suggestion. It is our goal. It is what we strive for.
"For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" 2 Corinthians 5:14,15. This is much of our motivation for striving forward towards the goal of Christlikeness; it is because of what Christ has done for us. Because of this we no longer live for ourselves, but rather we live for Christ and His love controls.
The frustration is that we never reach perfection as the painter above did. We are always striving and if you ever feel you have reached perfection, ask someone who knows you if you have "arrived." Unlike the painter who had nothing to compare perfection too, we have Christ and his admonition to us, "learn from Me" Matthew 11:29. We have perfection set before us so we know what we are striving after. We know what perfection looks like. And the end of Matthew 11:29 can be a great comfort to us also because it contains a promise. The promise is this: as we learn from Christ, "You shall find rest for your souls."
There is a clear battle between our flesh and spirit in this life. This is the struggle we have putting to death our sin and living our faith in holiness. It is illustrated well in a parable giving by John Bunyan where the horse is our sin nature; holding us back, and we are the man on the horse, the Christian, striving to go forward. The man on the horse has been asked by his master to get somewhere very fast, but the horse is a sorry horse. It wont hardly go. Bunyan says, "But if his master sees that the man on the horse's back is whipping and spurring, and pulling the bridle, and struggling with all his might, he judges that the man would go if he could." That is not unlike our struggle. We have been given the task of holiness, our sin is holding us back, but we ought to kicking and struggling and spurring all we can towards the goal of perfection. Spur on!
Soli Deo Gloria,