Confusing Piousness for Holiness
Holy- to be set apart for a special purpose Pious- : deeply religious : devoted to a particular religion: falsely appearing to be good or moral
Too often people mistake being pious for being holy... A few days ago I was listening to podcast by Matt Chandler and he said something to that affect and it stuck with me. Sad to say for many years I thought I was living a holy life only to realize that I was just pious. From the outside I looked like I had it together and following the path God chose for me was easy, but internally I found my identity not from who I was as a new creation in Christ, but rather from my behavior modification. And it wasn't that I was insincere in my motives, honestly I just had missed the Gospel. My genuine love for God had fallen for the lie that my holiness was based on what I did.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, behold the new has come.
That verse means so much to me I had it tattooed on my spine because I wanted and needed a constant reminder that who I am as a daughter of God is not contingent on my ability to do the right things. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a license for me to treat grace and the cross of Christ as a Get Out Of Jail Free Card enabling me to willfully make premeditated, sinful choices. I've seen people treat salvation like that and I just wanna hit them, but in the end it just shows how often we, and humans don't get it.
We fall for the lie that behavior is key. I think that's why there's a lot of well meaning people walking around stinking of piouty, whole heartily believing they are living a holy life. To be more honest, I think that's why so many people walk away from the church when they go to college. For several years I had the honor of working with college students and I loved it. I loved them. And they loved God, but very few would set foot in a church service on a regular basis. Many of them never put a name to it directly, but they all saw that piouty doesn't lead to contentment or joy. (On a side note, I'm not saying everyone in the church is pious, but how the enemy can twist something like a pious parent or friend to skew our view into thinking, "all Christians are like that". I am in no way speaking negatively about the church as a whole, only stating it's a struggle going on.) I think that's a big reason Christians as a whole have a horrible reputation. You have a bunch of well meaning people doing their best to live a holy life but often there is no actual life, there is only rules. For me, this was a hard discovery. You see, I am a rules follower, and honestly proud of it. It's how God made me and I know there are aspects of it that drive the people in my life crazy. There are aspects of it that drive me crazy and have made understanding grace and identity in Christ hard to grasp at times. To be honest, it was easier for me when I though living the life of a Christ follower meant doing X, Y, and Z. I have a decent amount of self control and love the structure of boundaries, but then I dropped my basket. My whole world spun out of control and God took me on a journey I didn't know was possible. I can now say I live a holy life. Do I still sometimes cuss (like a sailor)? Do I still sometimes loose my temper and act a fool? Do I still sometimes want to turn to things like food, alcohol, and TV to check out of life and not deal with things for a while? Yes, yes, and yes. From the exterior, for some, I may look less holy that I did when I was seeped in piousness because I do my best to live my life without any masks. I still wake up every day, ask God to guide me and trust that He is purifying me because I am holy. I am set apart for Him. When I have a firm grasp on who I am, making the right choices comes more naturally. When I was making the right choices to try and be holy, frustration ensued. I guess the whole reason for this babble is if you've ever found yourself like Paul, wanting to do the right thing but constantly choosing the wrong, maybe you've fallen for the lie of behavior modification in that area. Maybe God brought you to read this little babble because He has more for you than making right choices: He wants you to more deeply understand that through the cross of Christ you are holy. He already set you apart and His Spirit in you in doing the changing. Or if you find yourself frustrated by the well-meaning, but not so happy, Christian who is trying to tie a bunch a rules on your neck, cut them some slack. Like you, they are doing their best. Say a prayer for them and focus on the common denominator: Through Christ there is freedom and life more than we even know to ask for.