Lately I have been wrestling with some sins, and with myself, and with God. Why don’t I have the power to resist certain temptations? And why does God not give me the power to resist? I wrestle with the devil too, because he seems to be always accusing me and telling me what a weakling I am.
In prayer, I turned to Colossians 1:9-14—a passage I have been meditating on lately. Here is that passage, which is a prayer by Paul for the saints at Colossae:
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
As I read over this prayer I was looking for something that would help me. I was drawn to verse 11, where Paul prayed that they would be strengthened with all power, etc. “Yes,” I said, “That’s what I need, spiritual power.” Then it hit me that Paul didn’t pray for them to have strength not to sin. He prayed for them to be steadfast, also to be patient and thankful to God and growing in the knowledge of God—always joyously living in His grace, where there is redemption and forgiveness of sins.
Then I thought more on what being steadfast is. My thesaurus gave me these words:
Unwavering (to reach the goal of Christ likeness)
Committed (to God)
Devoted (to prayer, to each other and to God)
These words do not suggest that I be sinless, but to keep at the goal of being holy and Christ like. To keep at it with persistence. I thought of 1 Corinthians 15:58. It says…
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Yes, that’s what God calls us to—to be always abounding in the work of the Lord. And as we go, we will not be perfect (as to be sinless), but with His help we can be steadfast.
More thoughts: I use to think that God has called all of us to be sinless, because in Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, “…you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” But the Greek word here for perfect (teleios) does not mean without sin; it means to act in a mature way; to do all that is right; to be wise. Certainly God wants us to hate sin—all sin. But He also knows, as we do, that to be sinless in impossible for us, because we are still in our unredeemed body. For this reason He does not tell us to strive to be sinless. But He does quite often (through the words of the Bible) tell us to be obedient, and steadfast, and to grow in our knowledge of Him. So, instead of having the goal in life of living with less sin, my goal should be to get to know Him better and to be more steadfast in that effort.