In the context of a modern liberal society, the words of the apostle concerning Christian living may sound out of touch, antiquated, repressive and to some, oppressive. Yet, Paul’s words appealing for abstinence and self-control remain stubbornly part of the biblical text, reminding Christians that Christ has claimed all aspects of our lives—not just those parts that are convenient to us. While “if it feels good, do it—so long as you are harming no one else” may be the prevailing ethic of contemporary society, the followers of Jesus are clearly called to a higher standard. This certainly does not mean we are justified in the sight of God by virtuous behaviour. For God’s grace alone saves us, apart from our behaviour or moral striving. But aspiring to live a holy life, pleasing to God in all ways, should be our primary goal. Such holiness will, Paul points out, manifest itself in a fervent Christ-like love for others and in a peaceable community of believers.
God of holiness, help me lead a life pleasing to you in all respects. Amen. — TK