By Tonja Taylor
I read years ago about a well-known minister that had fallen into sin. When interviewed about his fall, and questioned about when he stopped loving God, he stated, “I never stopped loving God. I stopped fearing God.”
The LORD says in Psalm 111:10, “The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and skill [the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the alphabet]; a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning have all those who do [the will of the Lord]. Their praise of Him endures forever.
It is wisdom to revere and worship the One Who created us; Who knows us better than we know ourselves; Who loves us beyond compare, with an everlasting Love (Jer. 31:3 and 2 Thes. 2:16).
Every human has rebelled against God, the Most High, because sinning is inherent (ingrained in; the default of) human nature since the fall of man when Adam and Eve betrayed the LORD in the Garden of Eden (Romans 3:20-30).
God says, in I Peter 1:15 and 16, “15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
But how can we be holy? Only through believing in what the LORD Jesus Christ did for us on the cross can one be born again and made righteous, or holy–be reborn in the likeness of God. Our righteous standing with God–our righteousness–is what makes us holy.
To be religious means to follow after a religion–to work to keep a set of rules. But keeping rules can never make us holy (righteous) in God’s sight, as Romans 3:20 states: “For no person will be justified (made righteous, acquitted, and judged acceptable) in His sight by observing the works prescribed by the Law. For [the real function of] the Law is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin not mere perception, but an acquaintance with sin which works toward repentance, faith, and holy character].”
No descendant of Adam (which every person for all time is–except Jesus Christ, Who was born of the Spirit of God and the virgin Mary (Luke 1:35)) can ever be holy–right with God, which is called “righteousness”–except by faith in what Jesus did on the cross.
Jesus did the work(s) that are required for righteousness–holiness–by living as a human but without sin, then giving His life as a ransom for every person that would ever live, as He endured the suffering of the scourging and the cross to pay for the sin debt of every person that would ever be born on earth.
The only “work” we have to be made righteous is to believe and receive what He did–simply to agree with Him that we need His forgiveness and help by Him living in our hearts as the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Holiness.
We agree with Him and receive His Spirit, then it is really Him, the LORD Jesus inside us, that continues to do the work inside our spirits and souls of helping us be transformed to think and act and speak more and more like Him (Romans 12:1-3).
We simply choose to yield to His Spirit, and have the privilege and honor of being called sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14). So, by believing in Jesus and receiving Him as our LORD and Savior, we are made right–holy–in the sight of the holy God, and He becomes our Father.
As Romans 3:24 says, “[All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,
It is always good to have standards, and of course we need rules to keep order and consistency, and to help all of us understand what is expected for success in various ways. However, no human can ever be perfect enough to keep all the rules without fail.
Thus the need for the Savior, Jesus Christ!
In Genesis 17:1, God tells Abram (later called “Abraham”) to be perfect: “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”
This was before Christ Jesus came to redeem man from his sin. So how could Abram–Abraham–become “perfect”?
There was only one way to be “perfect,” or “holy”: to believe God. So Abraham chose to believe God, and it was counted to him for righteousness–holiness; blamelessness. He did no works to become holy in God’s sight–except to choose to believe!
So when we believe God, we are holy. When we try to be “right” by what we do (good works, and/or not doing things against God), we are being religious.
To be holy is much better; it means to be dedicated to God, Who is the Holy One (Isaiah 5:16,19 and Rev. 16:5). To be holy means to be righteous–right with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (I John 3:23;
5 And from Jesus Christ the faithful and trustworthy Witness, the Firstborn of the dead [first to be brought back to life] and the Prince (Ruler) of the kings of the earth. To Him Who ever loves us and has once [for all] loosed and freed us from our sins by His own blood, 6 And formed us into a kingdom (a royal race), priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the power and the majesty and the dominion throughout the ages and forever and ever. Amen (so be it). — Rev. 1:5-6, AMPC
Many people who think they are right with the true God, Yahwah, Jehovah–the Creator and Sustainer and LORD of all people and Heaven and earth–will not be going to Heaven when Jesus returns (which is not long from now!) or their body dies (whichever comes first) and their spirits separate from their bodies, because they spent their lives being religious–trying to do “good works” instead of truly believing they needed Jesus and receiving Him to come live in their hearts and live the holy life through them.
By the way, Christianity–believing in Jesus–is not a religion. It is a loving Covenant relationship with the living Savior, the only One Who died and was resurrected from the dead. As Jesus says in John 11:25, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”
But all people who truly have acknowledged their need for Jesus as their Savior and agreed to receive Him into their hearts–the core of their lives–to help them live to please God the Father (Yahweh, Jehovah), will be saved. The fullness of Salvation includes every wonderful thing–from peace, to provision, to protection, to guidance, to victory, to healing, and more!
Being religious will never bring these things; only true Salvation by faith–believing–in the LORD Jesus Christ, which is what makes one holy.
When we have Jesus in our hearts, we become holy, and He lives through us to do holy works. But without Him, works are empty.
If you have been trying to be right with God by following a set of rules, you can choose to become truly holy today, by asking Jesus into your heart. Just pray this prayer: Dear Jesus, I need You. I desire to be truly holy. I thank You for dying the terrible death on the cross to pay for my sin debt–which I could never pay–and to please forgive me of my sin and come into my heart and be my Savior and LORD. I know You will help me to truly live a holy life, that is based on the loving relationship between You and me, and You will flow out of my heart to love others. I love You and thank You and receive You, in Your Name. Amen!
Now, ask the LORD to lead you to a Holy Bible that you can start studying to learn more about Him and your new identity, and to a Bible-believing Church where you can join with other Believers to worship and follow Him and help each other in your journey as holy ones of God! He will help you!
Enjoy your holy new abundant Life in Christ! (John 10:10)
Tonja K. Taylor is the author of many works, including THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS PEARL, P.O.W.E.R.* Girl! series. She and her husband Clayton minister the Word through teaching, preaching, and the arts, on River Rain Creative Arts (You Tube, God Tube), AnchorFM, their church, and the region.