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But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the Christian life is how to live it. Yeah, the simple question of HOW?

How do we do what Christ commands us to do? How are we to be holy? Not just to DO holy things but to BE holy?

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (I Peter 1:15-16)

Think of that for a moment. We are to possess holy character in our innermost being. Not to just perform a set of “sanctified” duties. But to do all that we should do OUT OF the proper Spirit. To also THINK the correct things. And not to think the wrong things.

Frankly, the way we are generally taught how to live the Christian life is not correct. We are basically taught that we CAN DO whatever we are commanded to do if we pray enough, read the Bible enough, and complete a thousand other things properly so that our life will exhibit all the things we should do. Kind of in an endless series of proper steps that will lead us up the ladder to heaven.

And when we fail (and it is inevitable that we will fail) we are downcast, despondent, in despair and we doubt who and what we are in Christ. We stop living by faith. We are trying to live by works again. By our own efforts. We are trying to please God by the strength of our own dedicated Christian flesh.

I recently listened to a sermon where the man called this thinking “idolatry”. He said, that some days we are pleased with our performance and feel close to God. Then, on other days we have all kinds of things go wrong and see our performance fall short. Then we do not feel close to God.

Do you see a pattern?

The pattern is focus on self. Self discipline. Self performance. Self denial. Self control. Self righteousness. We, even as Christians, worship self. We cannot let go of our love of self.

(Just a note here, many of the new versions of the Bible translate phrases like “temperance” as “self control”. This is totally wrong. We do not live by self control. We now live by Spirit control. Apart from Christ we can do NOTHING.)

But the way we really live the Christian life is to let Christ live it through us by His Spirit. Not by relying on our own efforts to do His work. But resting in His working in us. Not our efforts to imitate Christ, but HIS living of His life in us. We are not parrots. We are not monkeys. We are not to be imitators. We need the real Spirit of God doing the work in us.

Are you in despair over your inadequate performance? If so, good. Because you cannot do it anyway. I cannot do it. Only Christ can live the life He commands us to live. Only He can be holy. Only He can be pure.

When we look to Jesus, He changes us. When we look at ourselves, we see only the garbage dump that is our own flesh. Even our Christian flesh.

Yes, there may be occasional flowers in that dump; but it is still a dump. It may smell a little better than the other dumps around us; but it is still a dump. Excrement by any other name will still smell like crap. My apologies to Shakespeare.

God’s method for our success in this life is to look to HIM as our life. When we are looking at Him, we cannot see ourselves. When we are looking at ourselves, we cannot see Him.

We are either facing one way or the other. Our confidence is either in ourselves or in Him.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)