Have you ever found yourself asking God to make you a better person, to help you to gradually become more and more like him? It seems an honorable thought at first blush, and yes, our life as a believer is a journey of ever-growing and maturing in Christ. But God has already provided more.
When Christ rescued us, when he paid the price for our sins on the cross, he redeemed us fully. He didn’t give us a temporary ‘salvation permit’ that we would have to someday convert to a full license to join his kingdom. He gave us his all so we would see ourselves wholly (and holy) redeemed. There is nothing we can do, no effort or achievement we can accomplish that would make us more precious in his sight than we already are. In his eyes we are already presented without blemish. We are perfectly his. Yes, he sees us in our imperfect state, but he doesn’t regard us as such. If so, Christ’s work on the cross would have been incomplete. But it isn’t; we were wholly transformed into a new creation in his eyes. Paul tells us that whoever is in Christ IS now a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come! Our job is to accept that reality and to act as if it is true (because it is). Our job is not to continually strive to become better Christians but to be the children he declares us to already be.
Dan Stone used an illustration in his book, The Rest of the Gospel, that is helpful. Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line from left to right across the middle of the page. Under the line write words that describes how you see yourself, your physical being and your often tumultuous soul: failure, never good enough, always sinning…etc. Now above the line, write words that describe how God sees you and your spirit which is already united with his spirit: His precious child, redeemed, fully his, holy. etc. You see, if you have asked Jesus to live in your heart, he gives you his holy spirit to guide and comfort you and to tell you the truth about who you are in his sight. When you ask the spirit to fill your life and lead you, Jesus sees his spirit at work when he looks at you. Believe it and act on what you believe. You are indeed precious in his sight.
Yes, there is also a transformational process of becoming more and more like him and yes, we won’t fully achieve that until we get to heaven. But learn to see by faith who you are “above the line”. as Paul says, reckon it to be true. Continually lean into him and experience him drawing close to you.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8