Gosh, I do hope I'm not the only person of whom it is true, but can you recall a single person (ever?) admitting to it? The "it" in question here might best fall under "S", for sanctification...
So, let's break out the gospel knife and we nicely divide things under three headings, justification, sanctification and glorification. With the knife, we keep getting threes. The prayer (for instance) goes:
"Grant us bread" - life - Father - glory
"Forgive us" - authority - Son - judgement
"As we also forgive" - truth - Spirit - holiness
These are not the only ones, we keep on getting threes, but frequently we can identify something like "the living principle", "the lawful-righteous", and the holy-mysterious".
Now, the gospel story goes that a transaction occurred. You are LEGALLY reckoned as-if (not only) "not guilty", but positively righteous (!?) before the true God. Clearly, clearly, we are to see this as a "gift", or more accurately, THE gift. That comprises the justification one-third. Further, you are re-oriented, and rooted down in a new hope of a future, in which a new body, power, glory, light, eternal gladness (for starters) are "the new normal". So then, the glorification third is duly noted. The problem area though, is in the here and now. The sanctification (of Me?) is a pretty slender topic...better "double space" that one (at minimum)!
Books should have front and back covers, plus some pages of text inside! The "front cover" of the gift given, works nicely with the "rear one" of an unthinkably "happily ever after". It's just that the text in the middle is some mighty thin gruel...So, I have "been made" (reckoned) righteous, AND find that I most certainly am-not so (in practice)! Or viewed from the other end, I am being re-built, such that I shall (one day) be ABLE to tolerate His stunning presence...and at this moment would collapse like a snowflake in a furnace before Him....So, I am "righteous" (but not), and "resurrected" (but not), and worst of all, "holy". but SERIOUSLY not!
We live in-between. This book with no pages ( which is me), this in-between-ness itself, has an element to it, which I think is real, but have never heard other believers comment upon. Rather like gonads?
Think with me of the angel hefting his sword at the (now closed) gate at Eden. "You ain't getting past me!". Said angel is the personal guarantor, he is "filling" the job. In reality, Jesus is that Guy, the one, who (in Person), "sees to it". Sees to what? Uh,...in this case, "holiness", a.k.a. "sanctification". Somewhere in the Bible we hear "His Spirit will not contend with man...forever". We infer thereby that sure-as-shootin,' He will be contending today! But see? There is nothing on that page! I don't "have" any "holiness"!
Go back and re-read the words of Jesus. Heck, throw in Paul for that matter. With a view then to "sanc" (in this life) don't their expectations of us seem to be a tad high-ish? "Be perfect", "be at peace with ALL men", "them that hear my words, and DO them, they are my brothers"? Not to try and nit-pick here, but WHO are we talking TO? "Perfection"??? Really? Uh excuse me, can I talk to one of those "perfect" guys for a minute? Are those the ones who have hit "angelic" status? Maybe they could tell me how it's done, you know; show me the ropes? I mean, who (precisely) are we kidding here? And isn't it just a bit odd that He (of all Persons) appears to be "out to lunch" right here? Why is He "unaware" of what a raging, total, and complete FAILURE I am at EVERYTHING I do? And the one hardest thing of ALL (holiness); He glibly assumes that I shall be a roaring success at here? Now, that is some weird gospel stuff. How come Christians never mention this? Who are we keeping the secret from?
I mean, who EXACTLY is He talking to, with this "be-perfect" jazz? And isn't it peculiar that I; who have failed at every human endeavor, am to "succeed" at the only (truly) impossible one? Why is this?
Or what of that loathsome business of "Love the LORD your God, with ALL your heart, mind, soul, strength"? Not to be excessively rude here, but if I told others that I was doing that, I couldn't fool a baby! Infants would see the lie! And you are instructing me to lie to the Almighty about it? Hmmm, sounds like a brainwave there, I wonder, just how easy is He to fool anyhow? Newsflash, I have never; under any circumstance, ever "loved" anything (or anyone) with even one of my (vaunted) capacities, much less, all four of them; far, far less, all four directed toward "on-high"... I mean, "I'm just saying here". If I have never; with all my heart, loved (say) a potato, what are the "odds" of me correctly applying said "love" to Mr. Potato's Mighty Maker? In brief, I HAVE a track record, and have never yet gotten even the EASY part right!
Like the angel with the sword, you cannot get past me! Why do Christians never mention this? It is I who am the enforcer? Who knew? Justification, that legal decision before "the bench", that declaration of righteousness says just about zip about any inherent ability in me after that decision. So, AFTER being declared righteous, we are clearly KNOWN to (still) be not-good-enough! Deal with it.
See it this way, the O,T. people were known as "Wrestles-with-God", and old "Isra-El" himself "confronted" El, and would NOT "let Him go"! The english speaking church might say it this way, "It was a scene". An argument, a shouting match, a row, it all seems so blasted undignified! And then I'm shouting at the Most High? Gosh, is that even safe? We will pretend at meek and mild submission every day, while in that same hour just refuse to wrestle?
Wrestling, puts us in the unlikely position of preaching gospel... to Him? Gee, you'd think He would know it already...
Such preaching sounds a bit like this in my life. "Take your "requirements" Pal, take your "standards and morals" while You are at it, take your "perfection, purity of heart, self-control," and every OTHER worthwhile thing, and just chalk 'em up! Okay? The answers are: "No, no, no, and no." I do not, I have not, and I will not "qualify" on the grounds of my "perfection". If You (Sir?) are "waiting" for me (of all people!) to "straighten up and fly right"...it ain't gonna happen! Just keep waiting. You dig?
I don't why I'm having to explain this to You, but listen to me! If, for ANY reason, ANY REASON AT ALL, the mercy of Your Son "fails", or the care of Your Son "collapses", if that solitary lifeline fails, I fail! If He isn't "enough", then I don't HAVE "enough". Deal with it. There is no "plan B", especially one in which I (of all people!) start generating (for some unknown reason) "perfection" over here!
I am the one. I guarantee it. I refuse (categorically) to attempt to blow smoke up the butt of the Almighty, and start in with some song and dance about "my holiness". My book has covers, but NO text! I have not loved You with all my big left toe...how much less so, my entire being? Like the angel at the doorway, You ain't getting past me!
"We contend mightily (with Him?) for the faith?". How weird is that? And how come nobody mentions arguments with Him as the main thing in life anyhow? What's up with that? You know, for some people, an argument is the only time they can be honest, I'm like that I guess. He knows. He knows. It's a good thing I never married!
I suppose I could preen and pose and pretend that I really Have loved Him. But you couldn't fool a baby with that crap. As the son of chaos and filth, the doer of failure and shame, I (of all people) have to be the one who personally guarantees that "He ALONE is right"? How did that happen? I mean, He is telling Me (?) to "be perfect", and I have to shout at Him, "No dice, You've got the wrong gringo! You're thinking of Jesus, not me!" Why does He require these reminders?
So, we shout "He alone is holy!" We shout that...AT Him? Gosh, you'd think He would have known that already?