IF YOU are Jesus’ follower, you must have struggled with guilt and condemnation at one point or another. I’ll be honest and admit that I still struggle with it often.
When I was still a “baby Christian,” I thought being “born again” meant ultimately “making a commitment never sin again.”
I was excited at giving my life to Christ, making a mental list about all the things I were to give up, the new things to do and the unhealthy relationships to sever. Whenever I stumbled or failed to meet the standards I had set for myself, I would be overwhelmed with grief and guilt.
I couldn’t understand why I still had a problem with sin when the Bible says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians, 5:17).
Why didn’t I feel like a new creature? Why couldn’t my performance be perfect? It wasn’t until I read, researched and studied the Bible incisively that I realised I had gotten it all wrong from the beginning. I didn’t have a “performance” problem; I had an “identity” problem.
Most Christians walk around with the absolute conviction that God is angry at them. They generally have an “up-and-down” relationship with God and think God is pleased when they do good works and angry at when they sin.
If you think like that, then you do not grasp the power of God’s grace.
Remember that all have sinned even after “knowing” God. And by knowing God, I mean “being in an intimate and personal relationship” with God.
Abraham lied about his wife being his sister, Elijah and Saul disobeyed God, David committed murder and adultery, and the list goes on and on. God forgave some and rebuked others.
God is looking for someone with a perfect heart, not a perfect performance. David had a perfect heart. Indeed he’s referred as “a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
His heart loved and wanted to please the Lord, even though he wasn’t very successful at it: that’s why he was forgiven when he committed sin and Saul wasn’t.
We can’t have a perfect performance all the time that is why Jesus had to come and die for our sins. “For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). That means we are made “righteous” before God through Jesus.
Believing in Jesus, loving him and wanting to do His will is what makes our hearts perfect. I had an “identity” problem in that I defined my relationship with God based on my performance, not on what He did for me at the cross.
If you want your performance to improve, you must embrace your new identity in Christ. Think on it on purpose, meditate on it, and repeat it to yourself everyday because your mind rebuffs such declarations. Eventually, your mind will catch up with your heart. When you commit sin, you should confess it to the Lord, take responsibility, ask God for His forgiveness and then most importantly, receive it.
We are all born sinners and had the character of the enemy working in us (Ephesians 2:2-3). However, the minute we are born again and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we become a new person, not physically or mentally, but in the spirit - regardless of our performance. So embrace the new “you”.
Then, and only then, will you start noticing positive changes in your behavior, attitude and process in your overall performance. Proverbs 23:7 says: “So as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”.
If you are a Christian and yet still think you’re still a sinner at your core, then chances are you will just continue to sin because what you do comes out of who you believe you are. But if you believe you’ve been made righteous by Jesus Christ in God’s eyes, then your performance will begin to improve.