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Hold up. Before you think this isn’t applicable to you because you’re not in high school, it probably is. Just keep readin’.
For those of you who have ever attended a public high school, you know that the atmosphere isn’t great. In terms of morality, it’s horrible. And its darkness has plagued more than just unbelievers.
As those who claim the Name of Christ, even as those who are true believers, we stumble all too often in being worldly. In finding supposed loop-holes. In convincing ourselves something is okay just because it’s not this certain thing. And, yeah, I’ve failed in this plenty of times myself. But what exactly am I talking about? First, let’s take a look at Romans 12:1:
Therefore I exhort you, brothers, through the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.LEB
It’s logical to offer our bodies themselves in service to God. Our whole body as a sacrifice to God—holy and pleasing to Him. Even when we hurt, even when we don’t wanna go on. All of ourselves. We’re gonna look at some specific areas I think we struggle in, or at least some that I have, in being holy, which basically means “set apart.” Sacred. Which means being different. So where have many of us often failed?
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.Ephesians 5:4, ESV
I think all-too-often we categorize certain things as “forbidden.” Things that we can’t say. But, we’ll use synonyms for these things. We’ll talk about horrible stuff but in a joking manner. After all, we don’t mean anything by it. It’s not wrong. But is that really so? Much too frequently have I succumbed to this. In high school, almost all of the talk is foolish, or filthy, or involving crude joking. But God tells us that these things “are out of place.” It’s fun though, so we do it. I do it. We sin. In Ephesians 5:11, not too many verses later, Paul commands us,
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
Do we then refrain from speaking “of the things that they do in secret”? Not in high school. Not even as Christians in high school. And, I would guess, not even as Christians at the workplace or anywhere else too many times. I say this to our shame.
In Philipians 2:14 Paul writes, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” How often do we grumble? How often do we argue?
We are not to grumble and complain, but we do. We are not to gossip, but we do. We are not to joke crudely, but we do. We are not even “to speak of the things that they do in secret,” but we do. We rationalize our way out of everything.
and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.2 Corinthians 5:15, ESV
Yet we live for ourselves, do we not? We set up social media pages that praise us. As seniors, we have to get senior pictures and post them so people can look at us and compliment us. We’ve got to try and be in the yearbook as much as possible. We rationalize that we’ve gotta be involved in all these different things to stay busy or have an outreach even, maybe some kind of ministry. Sometimes, that may be good. But how much time do we spend praying or reading God’s Word? 10 minutes? One devotional a day? A Bible study once a week and some “quiet time” at night?
We help at AWANA. Or we teach Sunday school. We’ll go on the mission trips. Maybe we’ll stay in the nursery during church. We attend the Christian concerts, we listen to Christian radio, we read Christian books. At the same time, we might like to wear Christian T-shirts and put some Christian bumper stickers on our car.
BUT DO WE LOVE THE LIVING GOD? That is the question. Do we live for HIM? Not half for ourselves, half for Him. Not, “I like doing this stuff so I’m gonna keep on doin’ it but I’ll still try to live for God.” All. In.
BUT DO WE LOVE THE LIVING GOD? That is the question.Tweet
Do we live for Him? That’s being holy. It’s not a set of standards or rules or list or anything like that. Matthew 19:16-22 tells us,
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.ESV
Jesus also said, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33, ESV). Will we give it all? A true disciple ought to be willing to do so. We often fail. I often fail.
We mustn’t rationalize in the way that we do any longer. In Romans 14:23b, Paul goes so far as to tell us that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” And don’t try so hard to rationalize that one either. It’s hard to swallow.
Yet fear not, for there is incredible forgiveness and redemption through Christ. James writes,
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.James 4:6-10, ESV
As you can probably see, this hasn’t just been relevant to high schoolers. The Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, is relevant to us all. May we act like it.
And may we be holy wherever we go, in school and/or out of school.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:1-2 ESV
*If a reference is not listed for a quoted verse, the version used is probably ESV