“Educated people within the church have given us what they call the marks of the true church. However, whether a person is educated or uneducated, the only proof that he can have as to his own membership in Christ’s church is his being dead to all sin and alive to all righteousness. This cannot be more plainly stated than in these words of our Lord: “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). Surely the servant of sin cannot at the same time be a living member of Christ’s body, a new creature who dwells in Christ and has Christ dwelling in him! It is absurd to suppose that a man born again from above is still under a necessity of continuing to sin. Christ has said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (v36). Truly, if Christ has come to live in you, then a true freedom from all sin has been given to you.
Now, if this freedom from sin is hindered and cannot come to pass in the fathful follower of Christ, can it be because both the willing and working of Christ in man is too weak to overcome that which the Devil wills and works in him? Certainly not! Yet, this absurdity–and even blasphemy–is implied in the very common doctrine that teaches that the Christian can never be done with sinning as long as he lives. If Christians continue to believe this absurdity, they will also continue to live sinfully, without caring whether or not they are doing God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven. They will have no concern about being pure, as Jesus who called them is pure, nor will they care to walk as He walked.
The only Christian known to Scripture is the person whose every action is that of a saint. If the saint of Scripture were not a man who shunned all evil and was holy in all his behavior, there would be no real difference between the saint and the carnal man. Preachers and writers comfort halfhearted Christians by telling them that God does not require a perfect, sinless obedience, but that He accepts the sincerity of our weak endeavors instead. Here, if ever, the blind lead the blind.
Paul, comparing the way of salvation to a race, said, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?” (1 Cor. 9:24). Now if Paul could see into the truth of the matter, then they must be blind who teach that God accepts everyone who runs in the religious race and that He does not require that anyone obtain the prize. Paul saw that the sincerity of our weak endeavors is, indeed, quite different from the required perfection of our lives. God accepts our weak attempts at perfection; that is, He bears with them. But He does not do so because He seeks or requires no more. Rather, He bears with them because through them we are moving toward the perfection that He absolutely requires. This perfection is the fullness of the stature of Christ in us, and it is what Paul said is the new creature who obtains the prize.
Paul was saying something that Christ had said in different words: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). In this verse, our best endeavors are called for and are therefore accepted by God. Yet, Christ added, “For many…will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (v. 24). Why is this? It is because Christ Himself is the one Door into life. Christ said that people strive, and Paul called them runners in a race. Christ called Himself the one Door of entrance, and Paul said that only one receives the prize. That one, who alone obtains the prize or who alone enters through the right door, is that new creature in whom Christ is truly born. Only Christ in us can be our hope of glory.”
Taken from “You Will Receive Power” by William Law