Reading time 8 minutes. I couldn’t stop writing.
We all talk about God’s love and glory. But if we are going to talk about that we also must talk about God’s call for us to be holy, righteous, and set apart. We cannot not talk about glory without talking about sacrifice.
Why do we shy away to talk about holiness and righteousness? Seriously, I find it spoken of less and less. Even when it is brought up it’s shied away from. Have people formed a belief that because it is impossible to be holy and righteous completely there is no need or desire to discuss it at any level? That is like saying, “Well, I can’t be perfect, so I might as well not even bother trying to improve at all.”
I understand why we spend so much time talking about the love of God and the forgiveness of God. It is awesome to talk about the grace and mercy of God. But we can’t talk about only half of the truth. Jesus also calls us to be holy, righteous, and set apart. It is just more appealing to talk about all the good stuff that benefits us in our faith and forget to talk about what is required by our faith.
I get it people should first know they are loved by God and experience that love. It is the goodness and kindness and love of Jesus that makes us want to follow him. But it cannot stop there. Following Him requires sacrifice, surrender, humility, and transformation.
When we come to know God as good, kind, and full of love we must be moved to become more like Him in everyway. Determined to be Christ-like. This, however, is not accomplished with only fluff and fun. No, surrender is required, sacrifice is required, and humility is required. We must be willing to turn, repent, change, be transformed into someone better, someone holier, and someone righteous.
There is a difference between being righteous for God and being self-righteous so let’s not confuse the two. We can’t avoid seeking to be righteous just because we fear being called self-righteous. One is clearly the antithesis of the other.
I know God called us to be in the world but not of it. Somehow, we arrived at this conclusion that if we are not in the world we can’t be of it. But that’s not what I am saying. We are called to live in this world, day in and day out, not living separate and in our own circle or bubble. But we must also not live of this world, living in the same attitude, thought life, and actions of the world around us. In this we are to be set apart. Living everyday for a Kingdom purpose with a Kingdom perspective.
What does living holy, righteous, and set apart actually look like? I’m not really sure. I aim to increase in this all of my days while I live in this world. I do know that holiness and righteousness are far more than just a moral standard. It is so much more. It is the standard which God himself has given to us, not just to live morally but even more to live sacrificially.
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” – Romans 6:12-13
Therefore to live holy and righteous is more than just doing the right thing. Instead it is about doing what God has called you specifically to do. This can get complicated because everyone’s purpose and call can be so unique. In order to find this specific calling one must know God. Overall this looks like a continual surrender as a living sacrifice. It is living ones life in constant unity with God who created you, died for you, and empowers you. Ultimately living holy and righteous means living set apart. And living set apart means you have chosen to belong to God. You choose to die to yourself and live for Christ. It is a continual choosing to be who God is calling you to be.
So here it is again. I say that because I know I use this verse a lot in my writing.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” – Romans 12:1
How does one test oneself on holiness and righteousness? I’d have to say look for the fruit. The Spirit should be alive and well and at work within you. We know this to be true. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
“Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. We are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from gazing steadily until the end of the glory of what was being set aside, but their minds were hardened. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. Yet still today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Not only does the Spirit bring freedom, this freedom has a purpose. With this freedom we can now see the glory of the Lord and it is His glory that transforms us into this same glory.
And what is the fruit of this? You know already.
“1 For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Take note! I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. 3 Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to do the entire law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we eagerly await through the Spirit, by faith, the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.
13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. – Galatians 5:1-6;13-26
You want to check yourself, ask yourself then. Am I living sacrificially? Does my life unveil freedom and reveal God’s glory? Am I producing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
Or am I producing bitterness, hate, sorrow, chaos, impatience, disrespect, evilness, unfaithfulness, harshness, and am I out of control? Because if you aren’t producing one you are producing the other.
The world is not going to raise the standard for you. God already set the standard. The question is, are you willing to humble yourself enough to transform into who he is calling you to be.
This isn’t about trying harder. It’s about learning to live a life of sacrifice. With that said. Living a life of sacrifice is hard but worth it.