When I was in the seventh grade, a boy asked if anyone in our group was religious. Someone said I was. I quickly responded. No. Not because I knew the difference between being religious and being a Christian. But because I didn’t want to be seen as different. I wanted to fit in with the others. I didn’t want my group of friends to abandon me or mock me. They never had before. But would they now that my “religious” status had been spoken out loud? I didn’t want to find out. I just wanted to be like everyone else.
The same happens today. We call ourselves Christian yet we blend in with unbelievers so well that no one knows the difference. We don’t stand out as having different values or beliefs. We live as close to the line as we can get and try to call ourselves holy. But. Christians can’t move back and forth across the line when it’s convenient or comfortable. We must live on the side of holiness regardless of what it costs us. It won’t be easy. It won’t be popular. But it is biblical.
Perhaps we only call ourselves Christians in private, because we don’t want others to think less of us. We don’t want them to start watching to see anything unusual in our behavior or speech. We don’t want to seem odd. We just want to fit in and be like everyone else. We want to be accepted. All the while wearing our blurred out Christian label. Oh. We’re wearing the label, but we don’t want others to see it.
We can’t disguise ourselves as Christians and expect God to call our behavior good. God knows us as we truly are. He knows our intentions and he knows our thoughts. Even if only our thoughts are wicked, God knows. But what we don’t realize is that even if our actions are good, our intentions may not be. We try to be the type of person we think others expect of us, all the while seething with hatred and resentment on the inside.
Let me just say this. Satan is not your friend. When we clothe ourselves in the approval of others. When we share on social media our shiny, almost perfect looking lives that match the world’s, we’re only fooling ourselves. The God who created us sees us for who we really are. We can’t pretty up sin.
God will transform us into a new person if we open ourselves up to his guiding hand. He won’t steer us down the wrong path. That’s what Satan does. And we can’t mix up the two. And we can’t intertwine them. They will lead us down totally separate paths. One is destructive. The other, although hard, is good and pleasing and perfect.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
As believers, we are set apart to God. If we’re copying the behavior of those who aren’t believers, what sets us apart? What makes us different? Do we assume that our lives will look the same as everyone else’s after we become Christians? Shouldn’t we be different from those who don’t call themselves Christians? What is it about a believer that is different from a nonbeliever?
God calls us to be holy, because he is holy. So what does that mean for us? What does that look like?
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16
Are we up for the task of living a holy life?
If we don’t read the Bible, we don’t know the Bible. And if we don’t know the Bible, we don’t know God. So it’s no wonder that we copycat the behaviors of those who are unbelievers. It’s no wonder we look and act and think like them. Because we’re not looking and acting and thinking like God. We run away from Him when we run toward the behavior and customs of the world. We don’t refuse to bow to the idols of today’s culture. We give in to the ideas of today’s society. So we can fit in. How can we fit into today’s culture and still fit into heaven when God calls us into eternity?
We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12
Satan will try to outsmart us if we aren’t familiar with his evil schemes. He will manipulate us into believing bad is good and good is bad. All we have to do is scroll through social media and it stares us in the face. Watch the news and see all the evil swirling in our midst. And some people applaud it. Do we recognize the difference between Satan’s temptations and God’s direction?
so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11
When we deliberately choose to follow Satan’s lead, our hearts will harden to the will of God. It won’t be an overnight hardening. It will be gradual. And it may not be noticeable. Until one day, the veil over our eyes and heart is so heavy, we’ve walked far away from God. Oh. The veil can be lifted if we call on our Lord and Savior to forgive us. We can walk in his path of forgiveness. But it’s an intentional daily decision to follow God’s ways. And it will look nothing like Satan’s lies.
But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:14-18
Satan is the god of the world. That doesn’t mean he controls it. He is under God’s authority and God has him on a leash. The evil he does is allowed by God in order to fulfill God’s will. That may sound strange or wrong, but God is always in control. When he gave us freedom to choose right or wrong, he knew that Satan would try to maneuver his way into our lives any way possible. So we have to choose God in order to live a holy life. We can’t be a copycat of Satan. Because if we aren’t living in line with God’s will, we’re living in line with Satan.
We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. 2 Corinthians 4:2