On several occasions, automobiles have passed me sporting a bumper sticker that declares: CHRISTIANS ARE NOT PERFECT - THEY ARE JUST FORGIVEN.
I really like that statement because it sends a message to those of the world who would scrutinize and criticize the believer's every move. Though I do like the statement, I cannot agree with the theology - for in Christ, we are perfect, having been made complete in Him. It just so happens that the outward manifestation of that perfection is not easily understood or readily seen because men don't appear to be perfect in the flesh.
Some years ago, a soap company wanted to advertise its product in a new and better way. The thrust of their campaign was: "We could not improve upon the product, so we improved the box."
As believers in Christ, we cannot improve upon the product, for we are saved to the uttermost. Our sin is forgiven; sin's penalty has been lifted from us. However, though we cannot improve upon a perfect salvation, which comes from the perfect love of a perfect God, we can improve upon the box, so to speak.
In his letter to the believers at Rome, the apostle Paul exhorted: "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ..." (Romans 13:14) To put on the Lord Jesus Christ is simply to abide in Him and allow Him to live His life through us in such a way that Christ may be seen in the outward expression of daily living.
Some years ago, I was visiting in the jail of a small Texas town. As I tried to witness to one young man, he was unwilling to hear the gospel message because, as he stated, "All Christians are hypocrites. You talk a great talk, but you don't walk the walk."
To say the least, this is how many people see us. All too often, they make unfair judgments of God because of what they see us do and hear us say.
Though we are perfect in Christ, though we stand before God as holy and without blame in His love, and though we are totally accepted of God in Christ, the truth remains that we must all fight against the flesh and the sinful nature.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul exhorted: "That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the Spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 2:22-24)
Though we are pure through sanctification of God's Spirit, we must still work at renewing our mind in order to change our attitude concerning sin and the lust of the flesh. We must constantly change our attitudes, our conduct, our speech and our relationships from the former life outside of Christ, to that which reflects the inward change made by the salvation we have received of Him.
We must clothe ourselves with the likeness of Christ so that others may see Jesus in us.
In Christ we are a new creature because we are partakers of a new nature. Yet, the Christ-life cannot be lived by the power of our own strength, but only by letting Christ live through us. The renewing of one's mind, and the change in one's attitude and actions, can only be accomplished from the inside out as we yield ourselves to the power of Christ that is within.