You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
God explains in His Word that we are continually growing in Christ, that the Christian life was begun when we trusted in Christ as our Savior and are now indwelt by His Spirit, who constantly pours His life into our lives. Our only goal or standard must be the perfect and flawless character of Christ being reproduced in us through the Spirit.
Yet if we think we become perfect in this life we are deceived. Perfectionism is the concept that through God’s act of redemption we have already become in our personality all that Christ was and is. Some who hold to this idea insist that in the redemption, since we have taken Christ as our own, that if we are truly saved that we should now be entirely dominated by Christ, and, therefore, be able to say that we now live a flawless life. Since Christ indwells, this idea assumes, then all the Christian’s thoughts and acts are those of Christ himself. Therefore, the Christian is not to think or act at all but only Christ in Him, so he needs no Bible, no church, no community, and no ordinances.
Another view of this idea is that due to the Spirit’s work within us, that we are perfected. We are like a lump of gold freed from its impurities by the refiner and therefore we are complete within ourselves. And, therefore, we need no church, no Bible, no community, etc. – only the Spirit. Both of these perspectives are unbiblical and come from human pride, that still wants to claim some independence from God and take credit for the work that God alone can perform.
The New Testament rejects these concepts of perfectionism and instead uses the principle of constant growth into Christlikeness. The Spirit is within us, but we need Him in a constant supply, and He leads us also to receive this transformation by the Word of God, through the fellowship of believers, and through worship and devotion. The mark of one who has the Spirit is that the Spirit is constantly leading and enabling Him.
We, in our selves, never become perfect in this age, rather we are to learn to lean constantly on Him. If you have entertained the thought that you would become sinless at some point along your Christian life, you were simply wrong and are probably disappointed now, because you surely have not become perfect. All of the power and goodness for our transformation is in God and not in us. Christ taught us to abide constantly in Him, as a branch does in the vine, and this is the great secret of our transformation. When we are disappointed with our selves, that is the time to confess our failures, and forsake our pride, and invest our hopes in the living Spirit of God’s constant work within. Any life committed to Him and in communication with His Spirit, will experience the constant flowing of His Spirit in the inner life.
Lord, teach us to lean constantly on You, and to abide in Your Spirit. Amen.