Righteousness and Holiness

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Thu, 10/14/2021 - 21:31

There used to be a time when you could distinguish between Christians and non Christians based upon behavior. What the Church used to call sinful, is now glorified by the many Christians within the “Christian Movement.” I refer to Christian Movement, as opposed to Church, because it can be difficult to tell believers from nonbelievers, as both use the same terminology. The struggle within modern Christianity, one that tugs at our temptations in a fallen world, to no longer consider sinful behavior as something that should be avoided, is real.

There used to be a time when those inside the Church would agree on what behaviors were considered proper vs those which were sinful. That was then, and this is now. It has become more common, even within the Orthodox Church, to make the avoidance of sin, something that no longer needs our attention. Instead, our attention has turned to avoiding offence to nonbelievers. Our efforts to be liked by our enemies and not to be called insulting names, has become our priority.

This has been done, I truly believe, with good intentions, to love others as Christ loved them. But even Christ said to sinners, “Go and sin no more.” What used to be called, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” has become “love is love.” No longer should we dare to proclaim any behavior as sinful, and that has had a huge impact upon our youth. When our youth hear the Church refuse to condemn behavior, and then attempt to tell youth within the Church that the same behavior should be avoided, they are confused. Is sin still sin?

Of course, sin is still sin. Of course, we should avoid sinful behavior. That is not the same as honoring the free will of others who choose to act as they choose. We can, and should, still teach that sinful behavior is dangerous, while honoring the free will in others to participate in such behaviors. Choices, however, have consequences, and just because we are free to choose, doesn’t mean the choice should be celebrated. St Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6.12)

Take a moment today’s passage from Ephesians below, and ask yourself, “am I living as the Church teaches, or as the world teaches?” If you are a regular reader of Be Transfigured, then you know our commitment to living a NEW life in Christ. That is only possible when we admit the OLD one can and should be left behind. We have all engaged in sin. That is not the point. The point is, are we willing to “put off” our old nature? If we are, then we can put on the newness of Christ in “true righteousness and holiness.”

Brethren, this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. You did not so learn Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth. – 4.17-25

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