One of my many favorite songs to sing to the Lord is Holiness (Take My Life). I especially like the third verse:
Righteousness, righteousness is what I long for
Righteousness is what I need
Righteousness, righteousness is what you want from me
What is righteousness? A simple definition is being right with God. However, what the Lord wants from me when it comes to righteousness is much more. God wants each believer to experience sanctification, what some theologians describe as renewed righteousness.
It means growing in Christlikeness that includes growing in the image of God. It results in a new moral character, which is the product of sanctification.
Corinth was one of the most corrupt city-states in the Apostle Paul’s time, and many believers were trying to justify their sinfulness by rejecting the resurrection of Christ. As always, Paul directly addressed this blasphemy:
“Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:34)
When a person becomes born again, he or she is required to separate from sin. It may mean we can no longer hang out with the same people. It may mean we need to go through our video collection and throw out those movies you know you shouldn’t be watching. It may mean that the music you listen to needs to change to that which edifies God.
Commenting on the Scripture verse above, Warren Wiersbe explains:
“It was time for the Corinthians to wake up and clean up (see 1 Thess. 5:4-11). The believer who is compromising with sin has no witness to the lost around him, those who ‘have not the knowledge of God.’ What a shameful thing to be selfishly living in sin while multitudes die without Christ.”
If that last sentence doesn’t convict the believer, it makes one wonder about the authenticity of his or her salvation. I promise you I have be under great conviction when I sin, but I have never felt a sense of selfishness because multitudes were dying without Christ. Nevertheless, the lost who know I am a believer and see me living high wide and handsome in sin never see a need for their own redemption.
Our mindset on our sinfulness is the result of how we view sin. When we sin, oftentimes we justify it by saying we made a bad choice or decision. Well shucks, everyone does that in life! Yes, except that you and I are not supposed to be like everyone else. We are to be set apart, which is sanctification.
We don’t simply choose to sin; we choose to rebel. Go back and read 1 Corinthians 15:34; it says clearly, “Do not sin.” If you tell your child to not do something and they do it anyway, what would you call it? Yes, it is called rebellion. It wasn’t a bad choice or decision; it was rebellion. “Do not” is never overcome by bad choices; it is overcome by rebellion.
I do not want to come across as condemning those who sin; it is a constant struggle in the believer. This is why when the Apostle Paul was describing the full armor of God, he included “the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).
Paul gives the Ephesian church great advice in the preceding chapter when it comes to living the righteous life. He acknowledges that we all were once living in the darkness of sin, but now we have the light of Christ with which to live out our lives:
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:8-12)
How ashamed would we be if our secret sins were exposed to the light? The devil wants us to fear condemnation, but there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirt” (Romans 8:1).
I don’t know about you, but it’s high time to wake up to whatever sin is in my life and clean it up “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
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Copyright © 2021 David Jeffers