Developing A Proper Prayer Life, Part VII
Matthew 6:9-13 – “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
The above heading tells us that we are constantly coming up short of the glory of God. We are flawed creatures, born into a state of sin and shame, with the black heart of failure and in need of forgiveness. When we experience forgiveness by God regarding salvation, that doesn’t mean that we will never have to undergo forgiveness for the rest of our lives; actually, it will be the opposite. In this journey called life, especially regarding the life of the believer, we will miss the mark at times, and we will come up short of the His glory (Rom. 3:23). Because we are flawed, and we have not yet been glorified, we have to have His forgiveness, and we cannot survive one day without it.
ALL HAVE SINNED
Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Sin here means to “miss the mark,” or “to fail at obeying the law.” God has set a standard by which we are to live, and no matter how much we try to live by that standard, we will continuously come up short and fail to meet God’s standard of righteousness. There has only been one who ever lived up to God’s standard of righteousness, and that person is Jesus Christ. Since He was able to do it, He became the perfect sacrifice to redeem man from his sin.
In this passage of Scripture, the word debts has nothing to do with money, but rather sin. It speaks of trespasses, which has to do with going beyond the limits of what is considered right.
God, as stated, has set out before us the way that is right, and man, no matter how much he tries in his own strength and ability, constantly goes beyond the limits of what is right, and thereby is displeasing to God. This is not something that is done one time, but rather we constantly go beyond the limits of what is right. I hate to break it to you today, but there are no perfect Christians, only a perfect God. As believers, even the best and godliest of us are flawed, both morally and spiritually.
We still live in a physical house that is flawed by the corruption of sin, defective because of the fall of Adam in the garden, and warped by the very nature of sin that is now upon us. Because of that, we need the forgiveness of God every single day of our lives, for daily do we miss the mark and daily do we go beyond the limits of that which is right. We must have His divine forgiveness, which means that God cannot overlook sin in the slightest bit, for He is Holy. But His forgiveness is a divine act of God, and He deals not only with our guilt, but also with our sins. In forgiveness, God removes the sins and guilt of the individual through His grace.
The basis by which any person can receive forgiveness is through the means of the finished work of Christ. Through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, we now have the means of atonement provided to us by the ultimate sacrifice, and by simple faith in that finished work—the atonement—we can experience God’s forgiveness for ourselves.
No man can undergo forgiveness from God by any other means, no matter how sincere that person may be. If a person tries to earn forgiveness by the means of accomplishing something, then that person will never experience God’s forgiveness. It’s all through grace and faith, not of works. No one can earn this forgiveness, nor can anyone attain His forgiveness, it’s all a free gift.
DOES THE BIBLE TEACH SINLESS PERFECTION?
We must understand that the Bible doesn’t teach “sinless perfection,” but it does teach that sin will not have dominion over us (Rom. 6:14). There are no perfect Christians, and I have personally never met a perfect Christian. If anyone claims to be perfect, then they have just broken the commandment of God by lying. There are no perfect Christians, only a perfect Christ, who leads us to a perfect salvation through faith in the perfect Christ and His death on Calvary’s Cross.
I think it’s pretty clear in Scripture that the Bible does not teach sinless perfection, for Paul would say: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14).
However, most Christians, through a lack of proper teaching, are living far beneath what God intends for us to live. Too many believers have no idea what it means to be victorious over the world, flesh, and the Devil. All they know is struggle, and it’s not God’s will that we struggle with sin. It is God’s will for us to live in victory over sin, but that does not mean sinless perfection. We are going to fail God at times, but we are not to be dominated by sin. When we sin, not if we sin, the Bible tells us that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and all we have to do is to come to Him and ask for His forgiveness, and He will be faithful and just to forgive us our sin (I John 1:9; I John 2:1-2).
WHY DOES THE LORD ALLOW THE SIN NATURE TO CONTINUE TO RESIDE IN THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER?
If the Bible does not teach sinless perfection, then why does the Lord continue to allow the sin nature to remain in our lives? He does so for disciplinary purposes, and as well to teach us to trust and depend upon Him, and to learn God’s prescribed order of victory. If the Lord were to remove the sin nature from our lives, then we would become sinless and perfect, and we know that none of us are in that state. He allows the sin nature to remain in our lives to teach us to trust Him and depend upon Him, and to keep us on our knees before Him. The sin nature is not something that is physical nor is it an object, but it is the propensity to sin, and God has allowed the sin nature to remain in the life of the believer to show its danger and the potential for danger.
It doesn’t take much for the believer to begin looking unto self and not Christ. And, because of that, we have something that forces us to lean upon the Lord Jesus Christ, which allows the Holy Spirit the ability to work in our lives to bring about the victory that is so desperately needed by the believer.
The Holy Spirit strives to draw us and bring us closer and closer to Christ, which is His ultimate goal for our lives. If He is given an opportunity to work in the life of the believer—and that’s a big if—then He will not fail to bring that person into a more abundant life, that is, if our faith is right. Our faith must ever be anchored in Christ and the Cross, which gives Him the ability and latitude to work. Outside of that, He cannot and will not be able to do what He so desires to do. If our faith is in anything else, then we will continue to live a life that is subpar as a Christian, and our lives will be dominated by sin.
To live a life of constant victory, one must place his faith exclusively in Christ and what He did at the Cross for us, which means that everything that we receive from the Lord has been paid for by Christ through His finished work at Calvary. As well, because of the Cross, we can always come before Him and ask Him to forgive us from all sin, and we have been guaranteed that He will.
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