The value of the month of September in the Embassy of God church is holiness and righteousness before God. We believers know that God expects holiness from us as this is mentioned often in the Word of God. One of God’s main characteristics is holiness, which we can consider as perfection. But how can we reach such a level of holiness and perfection without becoming frustrated with ourselves, seeing that we still sin and make mistakes. How can we avoid grieving God, but rather please Him? Let us study this topic by analyzing some verses and examples from the Bible.
The first example is Noah.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:8-9)
God Himself gave Noah the timeless label in the Bible of “a just man”. This is despite the fact that he made mistakes in his life; for example, he once became intoxicated with wine, and the Bible was not silent about this. Why then did God call Noah righteous, though in our opinion he was so far from perfection? Just imagine you got to know that somebody from your church got terribly drunk. What would you think about him? What would your reaction be? Yet God, being true, honest and holy, knowing all his failures, still called him righteous. Why?
The fact is that righteousness in God’s eyes is not our understanding of perfection: lack of sins and mistakes, but a man’s aspiration to righteousness. The righteous person before God is the person who endeavors, tries and wants to be Godlike, to have close relationships with Him, just like Jesus – to be righteous in the desire of his hearts and in his efforts. This may be compared to how a mountain climber strives to reach the mountaintop, but on his way to his high purpose, he stumbles, stops, falls, and gets wounded. However, he gets up and once again moves towards the mountain peak. We respect such strong people. In the same way, God respects and looks with pleasure at how His children on the road of life strive to be like Him; working on themselves, striving towards holiness – to their own individual summit. This to God is the proof of a person’s love and honor for Him. It is also a gauge as to how serious his relationship with Him is and the magnitude of his desire to spend eternity with the Lord in Heaven. God understands everything; He observes and gives grace to such a man to go through this journey called life.
It is important to know that God Himself permitted hard times and mistakes in the lives of Bible characters such as Noah and others in order to prove that righteousness is not perfection but the desire and the striving to live and walk with God.
Noah’s righteousness was not in the lack of sins and mistakes, but in the fact that he strove towards God and built relationships with Him.
“…For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrew 13:5)
The basis of righteousness – our “perfection” – before God is the ability to constantly walk with Him, as with a best friend. Subsequently, a desire will naturally grow within us (not from outside) to refrain from sin and live holy, clean and righteously. An example of this is found in David’s life when he said: “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8). That was David’s secret – he knew the essence of righteousness and he knew God Himself. Despite a series of mistakes and sins, God still called David a man after His own heart; He even established this in writing; in the Bible.
If we try to please God through our works, we will become frustrated, disappointed and will cry every day. However, if we try to please Him from our spirit, understanding what perfection is and how God defines righteousness, we will receive grace and power from God for our life circumstances and for a life of holiness.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.”(Genesis 17:1). God Himself in His Word is revealing to us the secret of perfection – to walk before Him; that is, to closely communicate and have an intimate relationship with Him, which will gradually lead one to strive towards holy and righteous living.
In order to walk before God, it is necessary to have a broken and contrite heart. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). God is near to the humble. He saves such people and dwells in them.
“But on this one I will look; On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66:2)
Humility, a contrite heart before God, trembling at the Word of God (i.e. attentive attitude to His Word and diligence to obey it) are the keys to walking before Him and being righteous and perfect in His eyes.
“After he begat Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:22-24)
Pay attention to the words of the great Apostle Paul: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. (Philippians 3:13-15). Paul said that a perfect man is the one who aspires and tries with all his might to receive the upward call of God, not the one who has already received it.
If we are able to walk before God in such a way, then this is perfection in His understanding.
Remember that righteousness before God is the striving and aspiration to live righteously and at the same time building a close relationship with God.
Do not judge other believers for their mistakes and sins because you do not know their heart before God, you do not know everything about them; only God does.
Do not condemn yourself for not yet possessing all the qualities of Christ as listed in the Bible. Do as Paul did: aspire for the prize of the upward call of God, and God will give you the strength and grace to live more righteously.
Work on your heart (spirit), to become humble. This is a necessary component for attaining holiness and perfection by God’s definition.
Recommended books: “The great power of holiness”, “I and my ego – who wins?”(University of life) Sunday Adelaja.
May God bless you!
With love and honor, Senior Pastor of The Embassy of God church: Sunday Adelaja.
Translated by Vera Kozlovets
Edited by Kizito Leacock