In every aspect of life, we encounter a code of conduct. Our greatest satisfaction and highest achievement exist within those guidelines. Ignore them and life becomes increasingly uncomfortable.
I’ve spent my fair share of watching and coaching little league sports. Initially, the equipment used and the playing field dimensions are the strongest indications of what sport is involved. The more rules become understood and applied, the more exciting the game also becomes.
Many say, “Rules are meant to be broken!” Broken rules lead to penalties of one kind or another, adversely affecting the individual’s performance and the entire team’s outcome.
What holds true in sports certainly holds true in our daily lives.
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Why do we value rules and codes of behavior in sports and the workplace, but so easily reject them as Christians? The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, amplifies the importance of God’s code of conduct.
Wisdom and Insight
“Oh how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.”
The wisdom and insight we wish to possess comes from understanding and following God’s commands and rules. Just as a game of sports quickly becomes chaos and confusion when rules are thrown to the wind, so our lives reflect the same.
Whether a team sport or an individual endeavor, we only reach our full potential by adhering to a code of conduct. The scriptural term sanctification primarily means “holiness, to sanctify, or make holy.” But another meaning is “the state of proper functioning.”
To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. Through Christ’s atonement, we are set apart unto service for God A pen is “sanctified” when used to write. Eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A person is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose 1.
God ultimately designed within each of us a unique and fulfilling purpose. The only avenue to achieve His full purposes for us comes through adhering to His code of conduct.
“I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”
Throw away the code of conduct and our world, including us, becomes a free-for-all! Learn from God’s perfect laws and everyone thrives. One leads to “lawlessness” the other to “sanctification” — the fulfilling of God’s intended purposes for our lives.
But alas! Rules are difficult, even impossible, to consistently follow.
So by God’s great grace, He gave us Jesus Christ. By living in and through Him, He enables us to overcome the draw of lawlessness and walk in the freedom of becoming. Freedom comes as we are motivated by love, respect, and grace. These three form the true motivation behind God’s code of conduct.
He desires everyone to reach their full potential and intended use. So, He gave us the freedom and the power through the Holy Spirit to go that direction.
“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.“
We recognize following God’s code of conduct cannot be done in and of ourselves. But as we surrender, first in our hearts and minds, once-and-for-all to Him, we begin the process. Then, we learn to daily walk it out.
Here is how:
- Read the Bible to discover who God is and His design for us.
- Pray. Prayer, honest communication with God, forms the bedrock of our relationship with Him.
- Repent of attitudes and actions misaligned with His code of conduct.
- Consecrate ourselves, committing everything to Him — our hands for His service, our hearts for His molding, our minds to His instruction, our feet to His direction, our motives to His desires.
- Dedicate. We also choose to dedicate all we are (or ever will be), and all we possess to His service. We are nothing and receive nothing apart from Him. Each day, we have the privilege of committing it all back to Him.
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.”
Lord, teach me Your ways — Your code of conduct. Instruct me and show me how to reach the full potential You have designed for my life. I confess that I have attempted to live by self-made rules. Thank You for redirecting me back to You. Holy Spirit fill me with the power and desire to walk according to God’s ways. Because life is not a game to be casually played, I recommit myself to You, Lord. May I experience the joy and freedom of living a life set apart for You, fulfilling You purpose and calling. Amen.
1. Walter A. Elwell, Ed., Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Entry for Sanctification, (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House Company, 1996)