When you read through the Bible, it’s easy to find statements that can seem contradictory or at least paradoxical. However, since the Word of God is without flaw, I know this to be impossible. Anytime I find one of these, I have to dig deeper.
One such concept is the seeming contrast between our grace and freedom in Christ, and our call to ‘be Holy’. I mean the expectation of Holiness is absolute perfection (which we cannot achieve). Would a loving God really create an expectation on us that He knew we couldn’t meet? Would I put an impossible expectation on my children that I knew they could not achieve? That depends. If my goal was for them to grow in character through the process, I would put the expectation at a place I knew they could achieve if they stretch. However, if my goal is to help them realize their dependence on me, I may place the expectation higher than they can reach without my help.
That’s when it hit me. God did place an expectation of absolute Holiness on us, one that we can’t possible achieve. He really does expect us to fail, in fact He knows we will. The real failure is not failing to reach the goal (that’s expected), but failing to ask for help.
This truth became glaringly obvious to me through my fourth (and youngest) child. As the youngest and smallest in the family, there are just certain things he can’t do. When he tries and fails he can wind up in trouble, but when he just asks for help, we gladly help him. The trick is that he doesn’t always humble himself to ask for help.
When we ‘put on Christ’, we are humbling ourselves and admitting we can’t do it without Him. But here’s the really cool part… when we do ‘put on Christ’, we are made Holy in him. So, yes… God does expect absolute perfection from us, but with the love and grace of a Father, allows us to humble ourselves and accept Christ. When we daily ‘put on Christ’, we take on His holiness and are made perfect in the eyes of the Father.