It is a common thing among Christians to think less of themselves than they should. By this I mean that many Christians seem to be constantly aware of sin and sinning and a great many live in guilt and self-condemnation.
But here we see an interesting comment from Paul that shows a very different mindset than we see today.
And it is not easy to pick out because even the Bible translators have either missed it, not believed it or chosen to soften the truth of this verse, for they have modified the true meaning of the Greek word into something less than what Paul was talking about: Perfection.
Paul boasts in this section of scripture. But his boasts are not like the boasts of most men.
Here we see Paul boasting of his weaknesses and failings, not his strengths or achievements, as most men would do. Paul understood that all of the things he did well, all of his learning and the work he had done in the name of Jesus, were not really his work. The work he did and the things he achieved were done through the power of the Lord and by the working of the Holy Spirit in him.
And so if all the strong things, the good things and the achievements he made were done by the Lord, then all that is left are the weaknesses, the failures, the mistakes and the frailties. It is these he boasted of, not because he was proud of them, but rather because the Lord had shown him that, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
There are many people in the church today who suffer needlessly. They believe that they are sinners and could never be acceptable to God, and so they live lives of gulit and self-condemnation.
I am aware also of some churches that preach a similar dogma, stating that it is virtually impossible to be perfect. Some teach that the only people who will be saved will be the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation. Others claim that you cannot be baptised in water until you have cleansed all sin from your bodies, and are virtually perfect. As such only a few of their members are baptised.
Such teaching is wrong and such thinking is destructive. In Christ we were and are accepted for who we are and what we are. We do not have to be perfect to come to Him because the work of the New Covenant and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what brings us to perfection. We come in weakness and are transformed into perfection as the Holy Spirit works in and with us as individuals.
Many times I have written that the purpose of the Christian faith is aimed at making believers perfect. In Christ we have the ability to become perfect, and we are told by Jesus Christ that we MUST become perfect if we are to stand before God.
Jesus made tis comment as one of the teachings in the sermon on the mount, saying, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Perfection was not indicated as a suggestion for us. He did not say it would be nice if we could be perfect. Jesus told us clearly that you MUST be perfect.
So given that this was a command of the Lord, we need to seek and find the way that this can be done. We are fortunate that the work of perfection is not ours alone, but we still need to seek how this is to be done in Jesus Christ, and to understand what this perfection is. The verse in 2 Corinthians 7:1 gives us some clues.
It's not blind faith. Being a Christian is not about wandering aimlessly about wondering where you are going and what's coming next.
We as Christians have a specific goal we are aiming at. We have a specified path we must follow. We are being led by the Holy Spirit to the goal that is to be ours at the end of this journey with Christ.
And we know what the goal is and how we are to achieve it. So we do not run aimlessly and without a purpose like an athlete who is in a race but does not know the way to the finish line. We know the way. Jesus is the Way, and the truth and the life. We follow Him and He leads us to the goal, which is eternal life in the kingdom of God with Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Most of this section of scripture talks about the unmarried being able to remain in control of their natural desires of a man for a woman, and it says that if they cannot be in control they should marry.
But there is a principle that is snuck into the end of this section that is worth investigating for it pertains to how we are set free from the law by the death of Jesus Christ. The verse I am referring to is:
A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. – (1 Corinthians 7:39)
In this section of scripture we see Paul telling the people to imitate him.
Now you may think that to be an imitation is to be a fake, as often we see imitations of products made on the cheap and that are not very good quality.
But that is not the meaning of what Paul was saying here. It is often said that imitation is the greatest form of praise, and while this is not exactly what Paul was calling for it approaches what he wanted the people to do.
If we look at the Greek word that is translated as “imitate” we get a further insight into what this imitation thing is all about.
The most significant change that took place after the death of Jesus was the change in the mode of worship.
Prior to Jesus dying the only place a person could go and worship the one true God was in the temple at Jerusalem. This was the place where God's law was taught and managed by the Levitical priesthood and was where the holy place and the holy of holies stood.
But when Jesus came and died He became a priest of God, not descended from Levi and thus not entitled to serve in the temple at Jerusalem. Instead Jesus, who was a descendant of David from Judah in the flesh, which was the tribe of the kings, became a priest of the order of Melchizedek as we are told in Hebrews 5:6. And this change in the priesthood changes everything, including the modes, place, methods and forms of worship.
Who can understand the depths of God? Who even thinks it is possible to do so? Surely to think so would be madness and the height of foolishness!
No man can possibly understand the depths of God. Even in all that has been created, man is still only scratching the surface of what God has done. And that applies only to those things that can be determined through scientific methods, which deal solely with what can be measured by physical means.
But God is not physical. God is spirit and man cannot measure the spiritual realm with the dimensions, tools and measures of man. So to even think a man could ever measure or know the depths of God is utter foolishness. Or is it?
The gospel that was to come through Jesus Christ and the teachings of the new covenant were a mystery to all those who lived before His first coming. But no longer. The mystery has been revealed.
These are the final words Paul wrote to the Roman church as he finished this most informative and significant letter, which God saw fit to provide in His bible for us down to this day.
Nowhere else in the bible is this mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ so clearly and concisely revealed. The book of Romans lays out step by step how we are to progress in the new covenant as we walk the path to life in Jesus Christ.