By Akin Ojumu

Before conversion, we all lived extraordinarily messy lives. We were foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others, and hating one another. Many of us were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, perverts, sexual deviants, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7). 

The Holy Spirit takes a hollowed out messy heart and turns it into a thoroughly cleared out and dressed-up dwelling place for His presence. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the new believer is evidenced by the fruit of righteous deeds. Genuine and authentic Christianity always manifests in works of righteousness. The mess of the past is gone and a new lease on life is bestowed. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Nevertheless, we must never forget that there’s no aspect of our redemption that we can take credit for or boast about. Human effort was not involved in our salvation. Our coming to the LORD is the sole work of a loving Father. It was by His sovereign will and divine election that we were saved.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44).

Just as our salvation is a gift of God bestowed on us by grace and not by our good works or the good deeds we’ve done, the working out of our salvation, i.e., our sanctification – which in simple terms means our everyday separation from sin and moving closer to God – is also a grace gift of God.

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13).

No human being is capable of pleasing God on his own effort. It is the Spirit of God, working in us that causes our love for God and the things of God to grow on a daily basis. And it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own power, that we grow in faith and increase in works of righteousness.

Lastly, it is important to remember that there’s no such thing as sinless perfection. None of us is perfect and without sin. Simply because you sin doesn’t mean you stop being a Christian. You don’t lose your salvation on the account of committing a sin. Well, that’s unless your life becomes a pattern of habitual sinfulness. And Scripture tells us that anyone who lives habitually in sin, and for whom sin is a way of life, was never a true Christian to begin with.

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9).

As long as we are in the flesh, we will continue to struggle with sin. Those who claim they are sinless are either lying to themselves or suffering from self-delusion.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10).

Christianity is meant to be lived with joy. God does not want our lives to be riddled with fear, guilt, and condemnation. What’s more important in our Christian walk is our direction and not our perfection. A persistent march towards holiness is what God requires of us. We may stumble and fall along the way, but the Holy Spirit is ever ready to lift us up.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7).

As long as we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit to help us to do the things that please God and we are striving on a daily basis to be more like Christ, everything is going to be alright. 


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