Working Towards Perfection
Imagine yourself very different from the person you are now. Imagine yourself without a flaw.
Sounds impossible, doesn't it? You know yourself all too well. You know your shortcomings and imperfections.
Yet if you are a Christian, God looks at you and sees a totally new you. Just grab a Bible. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:17, and read:
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"/
God looks at you and doesn't see a sinful loser. In fact, in his eyes, you're a real winner. Why? Because when he looks your way, he sees his very own goodness! And he declares you: "Righteous! Holy!" (Check out Romans 3:21-24, 1 Peter 2:9.)
And this "new you" has nothing to do with anything you've done. In fact, it has everything to do with what Christ did when he died on the cross for your sins—for your unrighteousness:
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God"/ (1 Peter 3:18).
When you became a Christian, you admitted all of this—you confessed you were a sinner and you asked God to take control of your life (Romans 10:9-10). And guess what? He did. He made you a whole new person.
But there's still a problem.
In Romans 7 and 8, Paul says there's a literal battle going on inside you, and this battle is between two "natures." As a Christian, you have God's Spirit within you. And God's Spirit has given you a whole new holy identity. But you still have your old "sinful nature" within you, pushing you to do wrong, wanting you to go against what is right and good.
So there's this spiritual tug-of-war within you. Your new, good nature pulling one way, and your old, sinful nature pulling the other. Who wins? Ultimately, God's Spirit will. After all, your old sinful nature is no match for the all-powerful God of the universe.
But God does give you a choice. When you became a Christian, you didn't become a spiritual zombie—a lifeless lump of flesh forced to do exactly what you were told. No, because God loves you, he's given you a choice. You can choose to let the Holy Spirit control you, or you can choose to let your old sinful nature be in charge of your life.
Think of it: You actually have a choice! Before you were a Christian you didn't have any options. You had no choice. As it says in Ephesians 2:1, you were "dead in your transgressions and sins." Your old nature had complete control over you. And this nature would only bring you death—ultimately, eternal death.
Then, when you became a Christian, you received a brand new life—an eternal life that started the very moment you made your decision to follow Christ. Because of this brand new life—this brand new nature—you can begin to live better:
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. … But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self. … Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:1-2, 8-10, 12).