It matters to God how we live. Saying that, I want us to understand where God-honouring living fits in. Many people, mistakenly, think it matters to God how we live in the sense that our lifestyle decisions will determine whether or not we are accepted by God and given entry into heaven. Many imagine God keeping a ledger of our good and not-so-good deeds. Within this scenario, salvation is gained by remaining on the right side of the ledger, by making sure our good deeds outnumber our mistakes and our shortcomings. The Bible, however, presents a very different equation.
The apostle Paul, for example, explains that “no person will be declared righteous in God’s sight by keeping His laws” (Romans 3:20). This is because no human being has lived up to God’s standard…but One. It is the testimony of Scripture that only Jesus, the Son of God, was righteous. And, wonderfully, Jesus was righteous on our behalf. Moreover, on the cross, he took the penalty for our sin. By believing this, by placing our faith in Him, we gain salvation (Romans 3:21-28).
In other words, how we live contributes nothing to our gaining salvation. I’m not a Christian because I’m ‘better living’ than someone who is not. I’m not a Christian because of anything I’ve done (Romans 9:16). My being a Christian has everything to do with what Christ has already done for me.
Is my lifestyle irrelevant then? Shall I go on sinning so that God’s grace towards me increases? May it never be! (Romans 6:15). In response to what God has done to save me, I owe Him everything. Paul calls this being a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1,2). Re-orienting my life, following Christ, is not my attempt to gain salvation. Rather, it is my expression of gratitude for salvation already received. I’m not attempting to earn God’s favour; I’m attempting to say ‘Thank-you’ for favour already bestowed.
Yes, it matters to God how I live. My grateful response to grace brings God glory. What does that response look like? Paul provides helpful instruction in this regard in Romans 12:9-21. Today, at St. Giles Kingsway, we surveyed this passage as I delivered a message entitled, “Living Worship.” Have a listen. Within the message I summarize the Christian Gospel while detailing what an appropriate response to grace ought to look like.
My key point was that, whether you realize it or not, your life is an act of worship. Worship is not singing. Worship is not going to church or listening to a sermon. Worship isn’t even praying. These are components of worship, but worship is bigger than any of those things. Worship is the totality of your response to who God is and what He has done for you through His Son, Jesus Christ.
If this is true, if your entire life is an act of worship, is there any area that needs adjusting?
My answer, if I’m honest, is ‘Yes.’ In view of what God has done for me, certain things in my life need to change. Attitudes need to be transformed. Harboured bitterness needs to be let go. And, as I labour to give myself over to these changes, I’m so thankful that my salvation does not depend upon my reaching some higher standard of goodness with these things. Jesus has already met that standard for me. I’m attempting now to honour His sacrifice. I want my life bear witness to my intense gratitude. I don’t want to merely worship once and a while……I want to be living worship.