I’m not sure how many times somebody needs to contribute in a row to be considered a regular contributor, but I’m pretty sure that Rebekah Hargraves hit that mark about three months ago. By now she should be a familiar face on Chaotic Life, so please enjoy her post on living the holy life.
Living the Holy Life
When Lauren told me that she had chosen “holiness” as her theme for August, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity to write on a topicthat is so close to my heart.
You see, I have baggage in my past when it comes to this concept of holy living and what it actually means. If you were to sift through said baggage, you would find things like legalism, a Pharisaical heart, and an unfair judgment of my fellow Christians.
During my early teen years, I went through a season where I bought into a series of man-made laws, believing them to actually be Scriptural. As a result, a Pharisaical attitude began to fester in my heart against anyone and everyone who was not also living up to these traditions and expectations of man in the same way that I was.
My father, far more balanced than I was, would try to tell me during that phase that living a certain way or obeying a certain command didn’t make me a better Christian. I could not fathom such an idea! Some years later, when I read Elyse Fitzpatrick’s awesome book, Good News for Weary Women, she, too, laid out the concept that practices such as being a homemaker, living as a submissive wife, or dressing modestly did not make a woman more godly than another Christian woman who did not also do those same things. At first, I still could not buy into such a teaching. I mean, there are specific commands in Scripture. Surely if I obey them then that makes me a better person, right?
My problem was that I misunderstood a very key component of the Gospel – the doctrine of justification.
Righteous in Christ
What I failed to understand was that, at the time of my conversion, I had instantly and forever more been declared fully righteous in the eyes of God. I gave lip service to that doctrine, sure, but did not fully understand for some time the vast implications of it. By God’s grace, in more recent years I have come to grasp my position before God far more fully than I ever did before.
I have come to realize that, because my condition in God’s eyes of now being perfectly holy and clothed in the righteousness of Christ did not come as a result of any good works I did, no failure to live up to the Lord’s standards can ever lessen the degree of holiness by which I am characterized. It is all Christ and nothing of myself.
The words, thoughts, and deeds which make up my everyday cannot make me a better or worse Christian, because I have been made completely holy and righteous in Christ, a condition that cannot be altered.
Consider with me the following passages:
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
When God looks at you – no matter what kind of day you are having or what sin you may have committed just five minutes ago – He sees Christ. You are clothed in the righteousness and holiness of Christ Himself and nothing can change this beautiful way in which God sees you.
Believe me when I say that, according to God, if you are in Christ, you are already living the holy life, even now as you read these words.
Where Obedience Comes In
You may now be wondering what part obedience to our Lord’s commands actually plays in all of this. Clearly, we are to still seek to obey the Word. We likewise already know that, even in those moments when we fail to perfectly obey, the perfect obedience of Christ is credited to our account. So, why is it still important to obey God ourselves? What should our view of obedience and practically living the holy life on a daily basis be?
Katie Orr says it best in her excellent Bible study, Everyday Obedience, “Obedience is not a reluctant duty or an indebted action or the way to salvation. Obedience is a response to God’s grace – the natural and right response to this great gift of grace we’ve received.” She continues, “Once we learn to focus on righting our beliefs about God, instead of solely righting our wrongs, a radical shift occurs, leading to obedient acts of worship.”
We ought to stand so in awe of the lavish grace of God in so willingly and lovingly providing for us a way of salvation that we therefore desire to honor and glorify our Savior by obeying His Word. A life of obedience and holy choices in the everyday stems naturally from a right understanding of God – His holiness, His mercy, His truth, His love, and His heart for His people. An understanding which causes us to know down deep in our toes that He has only ever wanted what is ultimately best for us. Therefore, if He says we ought to do something or refrain from doing something else, we believe what He is telling us and obey, knowing such a command to be for our good. Obedience, then, becomes an act of worship and thanksgiving to our great God.
A corrected, Biblical understanding of the concept of walking in holiness leads not to a legalistic, Pharisaical outlook, but to a humbled, ever-grateful freedom.
Walk in that freedom today, sisters.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
About Rebekah Hargraves
Rebekah Hargraves is a twenty-something Christian, wife, mama, homemaker, homeschool graduate, writer, home business owner, blogger, and Texas-native-turned-Tennessean. How’s that for a mouthful? Her passions include being a helpmeet to her husband, going on once-a-month dates, drinking coffee, writing, homemaking, crafting, cooking and baking, hospitality, enjoying silly dance parties with her little girl, candles, music, reading, and being a student of many topics.
You can visit her website by clicking here.