by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA)

If you have never desired to be better than you are then there's a high probability that something inside of you is missing, there's something wrong with your heart. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us that desire and having that desire in you is a good sign the Spirit is in you. In John 14:15-18 Jesus says:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, who the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (ESV).

The very fact you desire to be better is a clear indication you belong to Christ. Let me tell you a great way to find assurance of your salvation: don't dwell and focus on all of the things you do, instead pay close attention to what you want to do.

If we just don't give a crap, there's a good chance we don't really know Jesus at all; but in wanting to do and be good, we can be sure our concern comes from him. When we desire perfectionism, want to be good, and wish we were better than we are, God confirms to us that we are his.

The bad news about wanting to get better is that the desire to get better can also take away your freedom. The bad news about wanting to be good is it can lead to legalism and/or perfectionism.

A perfectionist thinks they can be perfect, or at least better than everybody else. Perfectionism brings with it a judgmental heart. Being mean and unpleasant accompanies perfectionism and perfectionism can destroy the very freedom Jesus died to give us. On an aside, it will also cause people to not want to be around you.

This is why I decided to “give up.” When Paul transparently admitted he repeatedly could not do the things he wanted, he took a giant leap towards spiritual health. Paul declares with complete honesty, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate...For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 19, ESV).

Often times when I read that passage I wonder...I don't think I would have admitted all of that. After all, what would everyone think? But after deeper reflection I understand it must have been a huge relief and brought him great freedom. Finally admitting the reality of his own helplessness and hopelessness brought him clarity regarding the grace of God and his freedom in Christ. And thanks to Paul's honesty, as well as other passages, I now understand that truth for me as well.

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