When you hear the challenge from God to "be holy," do you think, "I absolutely will," or do you wonder, "Why would He ask so much of me? Doesn't He know I can't be perfect?"
Imagine you have been put in charge of a company, a hospital, a local school, or some other entity. What level of excellence would you expect and accept if you were responsible for the entity's success? Would an average C be enough? How about an above-average B? What about an outstanding A?
Many businesses posit that a 99.9 percent rate of quality is acceptable. In other words, if the employees of a business are producing materials and products that are lacking in quality by only 0.01 percent, the executives who run that business are satisfied. But if that was our ultimate standard for life, the following would be unfortunately true:
- 353 newborn babies per day will be handed to the wrong parents.
- 16,180 credit cards per year will have the wrong identity information coded into their magnetic strips.
- 172 entries in Webster's dictionary will be misspelled.
- 2.5 million books will be shipped with the wrong covers.
- 18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled per hour.
- 2 million documents will be lost by the IRS this year.
- 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written.
- 5.5 million cases of soft drinks will be produced with no fizz.[i]
Does that make you think a little differently about why God doesn't want us to fall short of His ideal for our lives?
How Sin Works*
The evil force of sin seduces us. (For example, Sin asks, "Wouldnt it feel good to...?")
- We listen and give in to the seductive force. (For example, Yes, it would.)
- We, therefore, give birth to sin through our actions. (For example, "I think I will." So you do.)
- The force of sin controls us. (For example, every time you ___________, you are controlled by the force of sin.)
- This force of sin holds us down. (For example, we feel horrible about this sin because we know it is wrong. We are embarrassed and afraid to tell anyone, including God, so we harbor feelings of guilt and shame. This guilt and shame make us feel even more horrible, and over time, we grow into shame-filled, disheartened people who do not enjoy life but despise it.)
This is not the way God intends for his people to live! God wants us to be unbound.
Read Romans 6:1-10:
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin"because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again| death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God."
God wants us to know that when we choose to live in the ways of Jesus and follow him, we are dead to sin (vv. 2-3).
God wants us to know that when we choose to live in the ways of Jesus and follow him, we are alive to him (vv. 4-5).
God wants us to know that when we choose to live in the ways of Jesus and follow him, we are given new life and are free from sin; or made holy, set apart (vv. 6-7).
God wants us to know that when we choose to live in the ways of Jesus and follow him, what he did through the death of Jesus was once and for all (vv. 8-10)!
You have been given a new life. What are you doing with your new life?
*Devotional selections taken from Bounce: Exploring the Places Where God Is, released July 1, 2011, by Barefoot Ministries www.barefootministries.com.
[i] http://www.ysu.edu/sbdc/index.php/is-99-enough.html, accessed 29 November 2010
Holiness Today, July/August 2011