First of all, this book is helping me to realize that I fall short of perfection. In other words, I have room to grow :) Secondly, it's helping me to realize that I will never be "completely" perfect in this world. I'll grow and mature and become more loving, peaceful, joyful, patient, etc, but I'll never be "finished" in my self-perfecting pursuits until the return of my Savior. Those are both pretty humbling thoughts. The saints were familiar with these ideas and remained humbled by them. Just look at what Paul says in Romans 7, especially verses 14-25.
Looking at all that, I was feeling somewhat discouraged. That's a hard teaching! If even Paul struggled, do I even stand a chance at living a holy Christian life?
Actually, I do.
The end of the latest chapter offered a word of advice:
"Do you want to attain holiness? Do you feel this day a real hearty desire to be holy? Would you be a partaker of the divine nature? Then go to Christ. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Linger not. Do not think to make yourself ready..."
Aha! Of course :)
Hebrews 4:16 and Hebrews 7:25
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need...he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."
The one who saved me from the guilt and penalty of my sins is the same one who saves me from the power and dominion of my sins and sinful nature. If I walk with Him, then I will gradually mature and walk closer and closer to Him. If I remain in His presence, His glory will reflect off of me, the same way that Moses' face shone after he talked with God. If I am rooted in the life-giving vine, then I will produce a lot of lovely fruit. The key is that I come to the One who is able to work the change within me and remain with Him.
Ok, well, realistically speaking, how do I "walk with God" and "remain in Christ"?
Firstly, there is prayer. How do I get to know the people around me better? By talking to them.
Secondly, there is Bible study. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." John 17:17
In order for both of these activities to be really productive, I need the wisdom and vision of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, I am welcome to ask for the Spirit anytime! The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and can open our eyes to truth. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God and I ought to respect His work within me and seek to encourage it rather than hinder it.
While I probably won't see God face to face in this life (and while I won't be made perfect in this life), I will be coming closer and closer to Him and be preparing for that day when I will see Him! Now that is something to get excited about! :) The narrow road is not easy, as it requires me to put God and others before myself, but it is the path that is rewarding both now and forever.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."