If we take a look at what the Bible describes as a perfect disciple of Jesus, it would paint a picture of someone like this…
A perfect follower of Jesus would never be afraid. He would live in a state of continual joy and contentment that would be unaffected by the chaos and turmoil that often surrounds his life. She would be grace under fire and would find it far better to give than to receive. A perfect disciple would exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in every way each and every day:
“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Of course, we know that we all fall far short of being the perfect disciple. No matter how much energy we give, we often find ourselves failing to practice even the most basic patterns of common courtesy and friendliness. Our selfishness rears its ugly head, often out of nowhere, and we can quickly become inpatient, cranky, rude, fearful, and every other form of ungodliness. One of the true marks of a follower of Jesus is failure. We fail to be what we know we should be all the time.
Our salvation through the blood of Jesus, most definitely, garners our forgiveness, but it does not immediately thrust us into some form of superhuman. The Bible teaches us that even when we are forgiven, we are still hampered by the residual effects of our old sin nature.
However, there is hope.
Another mark of a true disciple is to desire to live in a way that honors and celebrates the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. We shouldn’t be able to look at the Cross, grapple with its meaning and purpose, and walk away and disregard Christ’s claims on our lives of righteousness and holiness.
Because God is merciful and gracious and understands our weakness, He has given us some tools that help us grow past our old habits of sin that can so easily entangle us and progress towards a life that honors Jesus and declares our gratitude for His sacrifice.
An 18th century pastor and theologian, John Wesley, called these tools “means of grace.” These are activities and behaviors that we can build into our lives that help us grow more into the image of Jesus and less like the habits of our old sinful nature. Things like Bible study, prayer, corporate worship, and service to others all have a way of immersing our hearts in the love and grace of God, transforming our lives with the desire and the ability to begin living a life of true discipleship.
Without God’s help, we will never become
what we know we ought to be.
Here is a short video that explains, in a really cool way, how the “means of grace” work in changing our lives. It is definitely worth your time.