LEVITICUS 20:7-8: “You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. So you shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” NASB
OBSERVATION: Is godly character important? Are the calls in Scripture to be holy and separate merely archaic concepts of the past? Does grace free us from the moral principles of the Law? Is it simply enough to walk in love?
These questions are as old as the existence of man. The Apostle Paul was accused of preaching a Gospel of lasciviousness. The Jewish believers wanted all the Gentile believers to follow the Jewish Law. Paul argued for grace through faith, apart from the works of the Law. Yet, did either side dismiss the importance of character?
In all of Jesus’ teachings and all the writings of Paul, you would be hard-pressed to support a doctrine of faith without character. From the very beginning of John the Baptist, through the teachings of Jesus Christ, and all the writings of the Apostles, a sincere faith always produces a changed character. You can’t have one without the other.
Yet, we are witnessing a resurgence of the doctrine of hyper-grace. This is the teaching that grace covers all of our sins so we don’t have to worry about our character. We can live under God’s grace even though we are living like we never received it. The Law of God has no import for our life today. It is grace and grace alone!
If we are going, to be honest students of the Scriptures we simply cannot take this position. While there are dietary and ceremonial laws that have been either fulfilled in Christ or released from our life, the moral law of God is not some passing whim of persuasion. It is the express revelation of the very nature of God. And, it is a call that is continued in the New Testament!
- “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 NASB
These verses from I Peter are the exact words that we read in Leviticus 20. In essence, they are saying,
We have received God’s grace, through faith, so that we might be saved. Yet, this same grace that was given for our salvation is now given for our sanctification. In other words, it is grace that saves us and grace that transforms us into the image of Christ. As Peter writes, “…but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior…”
Godly character is not something that is given in a moment. Rather, it is something that is cultivated over a lifetime of walking after the Spirit in the power of God’s grace. Grace is a transformational journey whereby our lives are changed, step by step, degree by degree, from glory to glory – by the Spirit of God! It is the call and journey of becoming like Jesus Christ positionally by grace and transformationally through grace!
- “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30 NASB
- “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NASB
There is not one of us who is perfect. We all fail in this transformational journey. Yet, our call is not to give up. It is not to redefine the journey. It is to be transparent about our failures and allow God’s grace to empower us to move forward toward the high upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The Gospel today is hindered when we cheapen the call of grace. The world needs to see an army of transformational disciples who are being changed by the power of God!
When I was a child one of the confessions we said in church was – “Lord, forgive me, a poor miserable sinner…”. Yet, now, as a redeemed son of God, I can no longer say this. Do I still sin and fail? Absolutely! Yet, my humanity is not an excuse to simply give up and settle. God’s grace has made me a child of God and has called me to live a life that reflects His character. I cannot do this if I see myself as poor and miserable. I must see myself as redeemed and empowered!
- “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB
Lord, this morning, as I look over my life, I am so aware of my shortcomings and my lack. Yet, as I look upon the cross, as I ponder Your amazing grace, as I remember the gift of the Holy Spirit, I am emboldened to press on to the high upward call of Christ Jesus! I confess that character matters. You died so that I could be set free and become like Jesus. May I embrace Your grace for both my salvation and my sanctification? Transform my character today and help me be holy (set apart for Your purposes), as You are Holy!
- “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:1-3 NASB
In Jesus’ Name!