Now that I have your attention.
There is a misconception in culture that God wants to stop you from enjoying your life but to be miserable as a Christian. That God wants to suck the fun out of your Christian life. That's not that far off as if you walk into some churches, there is anything but joy in it's community or in it's weekend worship experiences. There seems to be a focus on what we can't do, what we can't wear, who we can't be with, what we can't listen to, etc. Although some may have good intentions, the end result is a community that is more focused on what they stand against instead of what they believe for.
I will say right up front: sin is bad and should be avoided at all costs. Choosing to disobey God results in a life of difficulty, pain, misery and death. That's in the Bible (Romans 6:23). Choosing to disobey God will not bring you the life you dreamed about and unfortunately it will intimately become a nightmare. You may not see it now...but it will not end well. In this life and in the life to come.
But this becomes the problem. God doesn't want us to be sinful but God wants us to be Holy. For some, "Holy" is a word that we synonym with a cranky old woman with her hair in a tight bun who is pointing a bony finger at you telling you to "stop doing the devil's work and be holy like the Lord." That image isn't supposed to be a "specific person" but a metaphor of how see rules in the church (although I feel I see that character in movies of most "christian folk" - uptight, sour and living out of touch from the rest of the world). That's not Holiness.
What if we saw Holiness from a different perspective.
What if we saw Holiness as not "what I can't do" ... but "who I'm with." God says "be Holy as I am Holy" NOT "do holy like I do Holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 20:26). Rather than making my list of "NO's" to God I'm choosing to focus on my single "YES" for God! The Bible calls it our "one thing" :
One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him...." Psalm 27:4
What if Holiness was setting yourself apart to be with God? So I choose to embrace who I am WITH God than resisting who I am WITHOUT God. I choose to be WITH God (exclusively God's, "set apart" for the Lord, Holy). This makes my devotion to God less about "what I can't do throughout the day" and more to "know God more throughout the day. " This makes my mission less about "being in the world but not of it" and instead becomes more about "belonging in the world and changing it" because that was God's desire from the beginning. We focus less on restrictions instead of the permissions. God's purpose in the beginning wasn't to have an exhaustive list of rules (he only had one) but for us to enjoy the Garden of Eden:
Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
Who doesn't love to eat freely. That's vacation for me. That's Thanksgiving in the Pastian household. That's birthday week for everyone in my family. That's Olive Garden on all-you-can-eat pasta night. It's no holding back but enjoying what we have worked for, what we have grown and made together as a family. Those words that wouldn't bother me if I didn't have a pretty solid "dad bod" right now (don't worry I'm working on it...kind of). But these are life-giving words to Adam and Eve who were given permission to be in the garden and enjoy the relationship of their creator and the fruit of their labor. "Eat freely" was the freedom of God and man to enjoy the each other in the garden and have a communion like no other. Our relationship with God is to be cherished. It's to be pursued. It's who we were meant to be and how we were meant to live. From the beginning God was not a "God of rules" but a "God of freedom." And this freedom was to enjoy the relationship with God that was always meant for us. There was only one rule in the garden of Eden "don't eat from the tree." Because love is choice and never forced. So that single tree made us choose God or in other words choose love. God's love.
But sin damaged us to need rules. The lie from the enemy of our souls was small enough and just twisted enough to cause us to lose our freedom and become corrupt from sin. So God HAD to give us more rules...to save us from ourselves. These rules came in the form of the 10 commandments, the book of Deuteronomy with rules of worship and conduct, then we have the Mitzvot (the 613 commandments Jews follow), and the list goes on.. Not to mention church cultural rules of don't live together, don't drink, don't go to R movies, don't listen to secular music, don't wear too much make-up, don't wear a bikini in the summer to a youth event, etc.
But Jesus came to simplify our Christian lives by boiling it down to two commands: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus brings us back to love, again. Relationship with God, again. That was accomplished on the cross to restore us back to our original design, purpose and plan: to live in communion with God again. Like we were supposed to.
And now...our choice isn't to say NO to all the temptations but to say a simple YES to Jesus. I choose Christ. In the beginning we choose God over the tree. In the now we choose Jesus over sin. Because when I choose Christ:
I forgive seventy times seven
I love my enemies
I keep my body pure till marriage
I have self-control not to be a stumbling block to others
I make healthy habit choices to not get drunk, smoke, etc.
I bring peace to volatile situations
I am patient in relationships
I give my money away to Kingdom building and hurting people
I avoid sin to not entangle myself again
Because He whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36)
If you see this as permission to do what you want when you want...then Jesus isn't Lord of your life. For Jesus to be Savior and Lord means He not only redeemed you but purchased you as His own. You are not yours...but belong to Christ. But in that purchase, He showed you love and the right way to live. So I choose to follow a Holy God because Holiness is what I am longing to have.
HOW DO YOU FOLLOW A GOD OF HOLINESS:
Be WITH Christ.
It's hard to sin in the presence of God. So desire the presence of God daily. Read the Bible, pray and seek God regularly. There's no sin in God's presence in heaven and there won't be when you are in God's presence in your room, service, etc. Why? Because you can't help but repent, confess your wrongs to God when in prayer, church, etc. So choose be with God as often as you can and watch your life slowly become less sinful and God become more wonderful.
Be LIKE Christ.
When you are like Christ you won't sin and hurt yourselves and others. Turn the lie of the devil to "be like god" back on him and truly "be like GOD." The more time you spend with God, the less you will sin against God and become like God. Here are some Scriptures to get you thinking:
the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:6
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2-3
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Live for Christ.
When you choose to live for Christ, it's not about you, your wants or even your dreams. Because when you delight in the Lord, He gives you the desires of your heart. When you choose Jesus you want to see people forgiven, the hungry fed, the broken healed, the bound set free, etc. Those desires that are Christ become your desires. For you have been crucified with Christ and it's not longer you who live but Christ who lives in you and this life you now live your live for Jesus who loves you and gave Himself for you.
Any thoughts on this you would like to share?