I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that giving my heart to Christ had resulted in an instant transformation into perfection. We’re made in the image of God—who is spirit and holy—and we should be conformed to the image of Christ, who walked blamelessly before his Father. But following that example is so much easier said than done!
I used to think that if I could check off the list of “faith-behaviors,” I would attain holiness. Luckily, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to give grace to myself—because I’ve realized that holiness is not a destination of perfection that I will ever reach in this life. I was born imperfect and will die that way. But I can choose, every step along that road of life, to live with as much holiness as possible.
I consider myself fortunate that when I was very, very young, my parents introduced me to a song that has really led me along on this journey toward holiness. Just from listening to it, I was able to build a sort of “game-plan for holiness”…three things that I realized were imperative to overcoming my own day-by-day struggle to walk a holy and upright life before my Lord. I hope these things are encouraging to you, too!
1) Be Formed by the Lord
Everyone and everything in this world has an agenda. It’s good to recognize this and get it out of the way. Everything is pushing us either toward the Lord, or away from him. And we have a choice about what we let into our arena…what we’re willing to let shape us. Living a holy faith-journey requires the active decision to let God and Jesus form our hearts, and for their words and principles to be the ones that dictate our steps—rather than being formed by a selfish, secular, or ungodly standard.
2) Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind
No matter how badly we want to be in perfect standing with our God, there is a daily tug-of-war on our minds…the ongoing struggle between our old and new natures. Because of that, transformation—like holiness itself—is not a one-time thing, but a continuous renewal of our dedication to the Lord’s leading in all areas where we may be tempted to behave sinfully. We are then able to do God’s will in a more perfect, pleasing, and upright manner…a truly holy one, as He is holy.
3) Be Conformed to the Will of the Lord
Perhaps the most difficult part of living a holy life is to give up doing what appeals to us, in order to do what is perfect and pleasing to the Lord. Rather than being conformed to the pattern of this world and this age, we must continuously conform ourselves to the standard God has set before us. Sometimes this is less of a day-to-day struggle and more of a minute-by-minute one. But once we surrender our hearts to be shaped by God’s leading, and submit to the transformation and [by] the renewing [of] our minds, it becomes easier to follow His will rather than to remain enslaved to our own desires—which are often selfish, wasteful, and not holy in the least.
The journey of holiness requires faithfulness to the Lord, death to self to become living sacrifices before God, and the willpower and endurance to continue living in the cycle of submission, transformation, and conformation to God’s will, over and over. It isn’t an easy journey by any means. Arduous, grueling, and constant are better words to describe it. But if our allegiance to the Lord is true, then so must our endeavors for holiness be.
God and Jesus deserve absolutely nothing less from us.