The Word of God (that's the Bible, just in a case there is any confusion) is the bedrock of how we should and should not live our lives.
Feelings are not the final authority. Neither is popular belief. Neither is church leadership.
The Bible stands alone.
If anything contradicts the Bible, it is not right despite feeling, popular belief, or fiery sermons of church leadership.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1
If you skipped over the scripture reference, go back and really read it---slowly. I know you've read it before, but we all need to hear things over and over again. These words are the final authority.
We need to present our lives a living sacrifice. This evokes thoughts of animals slain as an offering to the Lord. But we are a living sacrifice to the God of the living. However, death is a component. Have we not read the scriptures? Have we not been told that we must die to ourselves? Our lives are required.
Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price with His life in order that our sins may be forgiven. We have been purchased with His blood so that our lives are not our own. If someone buys you a ticket out of jail, wouldn't it make sense that you are indebted to them? They gave you something, something is required in return...Jesus saved us from something worse than jail. We have been saved from Hell. Does it not seem reasonable that we owe Him our lives in return? As the verse says, this is our reasonable service.
If we owe Him our lives and He deserves it because of the price He has paid on our behalf, then what is required of this living sacrifice? The verse says a holy sacrifice. A perfect sacrifice is the benchmark. He requires it and we owe Him. Nothing else would be considered reasonable.
Therefore, 100% holiness is the goal.
If you have skipped over reading anything to arrive at this point, you're not going to understand exactly what I am trying to say. Go back and start over.
Nothing but 100% holiness is reasonable. How is holiness defined? "By what 'God has told me'"..."By what my friends agree is spiritual", "By what my pastor has told me". No, by what the Word of God says. We must do everything we are commanded in the Word of God with no exceptions, rounded corners, or shortcuts and we must keep ourselves completely spotless from the sin this world has to offer. We can live a life filled with 100% compliance to the Word of God until the 99th year of life, but one false move and the prior track record is tainted.
This is the reasonable service of a life saved by Jesus Christ.
(Don't worry; I'm going to mention grace now.)
But, by our own effort, 100% holiness is impossible. The Bible says that no one is without sin! We all will fail! I have failed miserably---you have too. Now, I turn to that last little bit of Romans 12:1 that I haven't mentioned yet. The verse specifically says "by the mercies of God". Praise God His mercies are new every morning! We have grace and grace abounding. God says that He loves us and He will never leave us!
And you know this. You have been taught this. However, many times all that we ever allow ourselves to hear is "it's by grace". True. It's by grace that God didn't smite us the first time we sinned. No argument there.
But, the grace part is not our focus!!!
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
You see, Paul (yes, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament) even says that he has "not yet apprehended". He says that he wasn't perfect. But, notice the focus. He is pressing forward for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. God had a calling for Paul to complete and part of it definitely was to be in 100% compliance with God's Word.
"But, he never made it!" you say, "He said so himself!" And he's Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament! True, but notice that he is not going around saying, "Well, who cares? I can't make it. I'll just do whatever I want then. It's by grace anyway. Besides, if I keep trying to follow everything God's Word says then people won't like me and they'll call me a hypocritical pharisee..."
On the contrary, he says I press forward. Again, he says I press forward. This requires determination and a focus on 100% compliance with God's Word, keeping ourselves completely spotless from sin---Holiness!
God says I will give grace since you will never succeed in being holy on your own.
Holiness is our focus, grace is God's focus.
As a church, we need realignment from a self-centered view that says "anything I do is covered by grace", to "I will do nothing that is against the Word of God".
And when you fail (because, I'm sorry, but we all will still sin), God's grace will be there.
But, holiness is our focus, grace is God's focus.
So, today, let us focus our Christian lives with 100% holiness as the goal.