This week is a little different. There is a lot of practical application that makes up this week’s devotion. And it is all found in scripture.
You constantly hear us telling you to strive to be set apart from the world. We tell you that it is so important to guard yourself and test yourself. Do you still wonder what that looks like? Are you unsure what you are supposed to test yourself for?
Sometimes God lays it all out there word for word (as in Colossians 3:1-10), sometimes he wants you to apply his teaching on a specific topic to your personal situation. It is important that you read scripture always with your thoughts analyzing the scriptures against every aspect of your life.
Just because God is talking in the confines of adultery (Matt. 5:27-30) doesn’t mean that the lesson is only for those that are married. Replace the word adultery with your personal struggle. Is it cheating, lying, sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend, drugs, alcohol, cutting, an eating disorder? And when God says it is better to cut off the part of the body that is causing you to sin, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut your hand off for stealing. It means you need to take steps to remove yourself from the temptation and the opportunity to steal (in other words, take responsibility for your thoughts, attitudes and actions and work to correct them, in whatever method you need to).
1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
That might seem like a lot to take in, but when you think about it, it is all covering the same things. God says the same things over and over because he understands that we are too stubborn to get it the first time. Or the second. But what you need to be aware of is that even though God knows we will most likely not get it right the first time, he still expects us to try.
You might think that it is too hard to do all the things God asks of us. You would be right. It is too hard. If you don’t trust God to carry you through and give you the wisdom and strength you need.
Next week part 2 will be all about God’s faithfulness to give us strength, knowledge and power to set ourselves apart. No, he doesn’t do it for us. We have to do the work. But he is the one that makes it possible.