“All I want to do is be holy just like Jesus, but when I look at myself all I see are my faults and failures.”
Have you ever felt like that in your pursuit of holiness? You are not alone. When we look at the lives of the early church fathers and the great men and women of God who lived down through the centuries, we see this same lament. Each one expressed frustrations about living a holy life.
What is the answer to this dilemma that affects so many believers? It may surprise you, but the answer is simple: If you desire to live a more holy life, take your eyes off of yourself and focus on the Lord and His holiness.
When we look at ourselves, the only things we may see are the faults and the mistakes we have made in the past. Too often we struggle to fix our old man, not realizing that aspect of us is dead. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 NKJV, emphasis mine.)
Who is that “old man?” It is the person you used to be before you came to Christ. It was governed by the desires of the flesh and responded to everything that appealed to the physical senses. We could refer to it as our old nature.
Sadly, we often spend a lot of time trying to fix the old man with its fleshly desires, not realizing that Jesus took care of that person when He died upon the cross. Our old self was crucified with Him! God will not help you fix your old self because He now considers it to be dead. Realizing this, we can now live in the knowledge that we have been freed from all of our past sins. They are under the blood of Jesus!
When you received Christ, you became a new creation. That is who the new man is and that is who you are. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV, emphasis mine.)
This means that we have to discard the ways of the old self and act according to ways of the new self, who has been created in the image of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote:
“That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts. (Ephesians 4:22 NKJV, emphasis mine.)
Then he wrote:
And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24 NKJV, emphasis mine.)
Do you see what the Holy Spirit is saying about you? Your new man (self) was created in righteousness and holiness. That is who you are in Christ!
This is why we cannot set our eyes upon ourselves. God wants us to see who we are in Christ. He wants us to focus on the righteousness and holiness we have because we are in Christ. Does that make sense to you?
Religion seeks to please God by doing certain works. God has called us up to a higher level: He has called us into a relationship with Himself. Therefore, we are not saved by our works – we are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the same way, we do not become righteous or holy by our works, but by faith in Christ. When we accepted Christ, we were clothed with His righteousness, and we became holy in Him. God wants us to forget all of our past sins and mistakes because He no longer remembers them. The writer of Hebrews wrote:
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12 NKJV, emphasis mine.)
If God doesn’t remember our past sins and failures, then why should we?
Our heavenly Father wants us to continually walk in the newness of life that we have in Christ. He wants us to keep our eyes firmly focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and who we are in Him. It is only then that we will see ourselves for who we really are. By focusing on the Lord Jesus, we will find it is much easier to live a holy life because we will think, talk and act just like Him.
You are holy, dear saint!
Have you discovered that it is easier to live a holy life when you focus on the holiness of the Lord, instead of yourself? Let me know in the comments below!
[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]