Faithfulness to God’s Standard (Eph. 4:1)
There are ethical or moral codes of conducts (written or unwritten, formal or informal) that guide every given religion, society, organization, profession or ways of life. These codes which go by different names like commandments, rules, principles, regulations, status, laws, constitutions, etc., are established standards of measurement by which judgments are passed and disciplines are ensured among adherents or practitioners or citizens (as the case maybe) of that particular spectrum. God has His too! His are as Ancient as Himself. They are Eternal and Unchanging. In fact, it must be said categorically that, every good and righteous code emanates from God (cf James 1:17-19).
It will interest you to note, that even before time begun, even before heaven and earth were called forth unto existence, these Eternal Codes of God had been. And defaulters have suffered the great consequences for their disobedience or negligence. The first was Lucifer (that once beautiful Angel of God) who contravened God’s codes and became Satan (or the devil) and was thrown out of heaven and was condemned with his fellow rebellious angels for all eternity. Saint Peter confirmed this when he said, “God did not pardon the angels who sinned but cast them into hell, confining them in the dark pits, keeping them there until the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).
Again, Adam and Eve, our first parents suffered similar fate as a result of contravening God’s righteous Standards and the result is what you and I know very well. All through human history, Scripture has shown us that God never Compromised on His Standards. He punishes anyone, or people or nation, (even an entire generation) who undermines His Righteous Standards. Peter alluded to this when he said, “Neither did he pardon the ancient world when he unleashed the waters of the flood upon the world of wicked people, but protected only Noah, the preacher of righteousness, and seven other people” (2 Peter 2:5).
On his part, Saint Paul would say, “I want you to remember, my brothers, what happened to our ancestors who followed Moses. They were all under the protection of the cloud, and all passed safely through the Red Sea… But even God was not pleased with most of them, and so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert. Now, all this is an example for us, to warn us not to desire evil things, as they did, nor to worship idols, as some of them did… We must not complain, as some of them did – and they were destroyed by the Angel of Death. All these things happened to them as example for others, and they were written down as a warning for us. For we live at a time when the end is about to come” (cf. 1 Cor. 10).
Take note of the reoccurring phrase, ‘all these were written down as a warning for us’. If God would not spare his angels who contravened His righteous codes, Saint Peter would say, neither would He spare us. You will agree with me that we live in a very lawless world today. A world that is worst than Sodom and Gomorrah. A world that is worst than Noah’s world. A world that undermines God’s grace as excuse to dwell in SIN. A world that condemns the ‘righteous’ and sympathises with the unrighteous. How do you think God feels about our laxity today?
God’s high standard, cannot be lowered for anything less. For anyone who must be God’s child, such a one must maintain His High Standards. It is like keeping a ‘FAMILY NAME’ or upholding a ‘Family Reputation’ that cannot be toiled with. God’s Standard is HOLINESS. For God is Holy, and He demands and commands Holiness from all his children. For it is by such ‘holiness’ that His CHILDREN are known. Thus God would say, “Be holy, for I the Lord your God I am Holy” (Lev. 19:2). Confirming this in New Testament, Paul would say, “God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without blame in his presence” (Eph. 1:4). Little wonder, Jesus would say, we should be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Mat. 5:55).
This call to perfection and Holiness as God’s Standard for His children (people) has always been. God has never lowered this standard. In fact, a reduction of the standard as we seen above, transformed an Angel to a Demon. And caused our first parents (Adam and Even) and subsequently all of their offsprings God’s friendship. For God, keep my standard and be my FRIEND or better still, my CHILD; lower my standard and suffer the consequences of my righteous ANGER.
The above assertion was lucidly portrayed in the creation narrative. After God created heaven and earth, He put Adam and Eve in charge of His creation and gave them dominion over all created things. God was a regular guest of man in the Garden as Scripture told us, in the evenings God will visit Adam and Eve (cf. Gen. 2,&3). This was what man enjoyed until man decided to lower God’s standard by yielding to the temptation of the serpent. The consequences of that one singular act of unholiness (Obedience), is the basis of all the calamities we are still suffering on earth. The height of it all is eternal Death.
Also, when called decided to form a people for Himself, he gave them codes for standards. He said by these codes (standard) other nations on earth will know and respected Him through them. Thus in Exodus 19:5-6 he said, “Now if you listen to me and keep my covenant, you shall be my very own possession among all the peoples. For all the earth is mine, but you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”.
From the foregoing, God has just revealed His mind to the whole world. He has just disclosed what He wanted from the beginning and what He still wants now and in the world to come. He wants a covenantal people, who will listen and keep his words (that is the sole purpose of the Commandments, -codes of conduct). He needs a people who He will take as his own possession (the apple of His eyes) among all the nations on earth, a ‘Kingdom People’, who will be consecrated to Him as priests. Wow! That’s God’s purpose of creating man. I see this purpose running all through Scriptures from the time of Moses down to the coming of The Messiah, Christ Jesus and His promise to His Redeemed!
Now in 1 Peter 2, Saint Peter dwelling on this purpose, said, “we the people of God are like living stones built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … (For we ) are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Christ summarized this teaching for me, through the lips of John in Revelation 1:5-6 when he said, he has washed away our sins with his own blood, and ” made us a kingdom and priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen” (also read Rev. 5:9-11).
I must draw your attention here that through our baptism as Christians, these aforesaid Scriptural texts are fulfilled. For we were made to share in the priesthood, prophet-hood and kingship of Christ Jesus. By implication, we are meant to be different from others. We are meant to carry ourselves as royalties in behaviour. With heavenly dignity and prowess. We are meant to carry ourselves in holiness as priests. Thus, teaching others the path of holiness through our lives’ conducts. We are meant to be ambassadors of God’s Ways and His kingdom as prophets. This entails being prophetic in the face of evil that ravaged our societies and Church today. To fair, how would you feel when you hear that a priest is caught in adultery, or formication, or stealing or committing any of those shameful acts? I believe terrible! But you should remember you are also a priest. So when you fall short of that standard, God also feel shameful.
Dearly beloved, we are ambassadors of a holy kingdom. As such, we are suppose to represent our Father very well. Anything short of good representation is falling short of God’s Righteous Standards. It means we’re not of him. Jesus alluded to this fact in several passages of Scripture. In John 8:44 he said “You are of your father the devil, and you will carry out the evil wishes of your father, who has been a murderer from the beginning. He did not uphold the truth for, in him, there is no truth; and now, when he speaks for himself, he lies. He is a liar and the father of lies”. Thus because of this, Jesus would refer to anyone with such tendencies as a devil. In John 6: 70, he refers to Judas as a devil when he said “I chose you, the Twelve, did I not? Yet one of you is a devil.” Again in Matthew 16: 23 he referred to Peter as a devil when he said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. Your thoughts are not from God but from men.”
John took up the above teaching in first 1 John 3 when he said, “My children, do not be led astray; those who do what is right are righteous, just as Jesus is righteous. But those who sin belong to the devil, for the devil has been a sinner from the beginning. The purpose for which the son of God appeared was to undo the works of the devil. Those who have been of God do not sin, for the seed of God remains in them; they cannot sin because they are born of God. This is what distinguishes the children of God and those of the devil: whoever does not do what is right is not of God; so too, anyone who does not love his brother” (1John 3:7-10).
I want you to take timeout and reflect on those words. They are hard but they are the Truth. The only Truth that will set you free. Like the Master would say, “if you live in my word, you will indeed be my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Thus I ask, by whose standard are you living?
May His grace transform me from darkness to his heavenly light.