“I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.”-Romans 15:16 NLT
That’s a heavy thought, isn’t it? Or maybe for you it isn’t because you’ve been told that God just accepts us exactly the way we are and we don’t need to change who we are for Him. This is partially true. When we first come to Jesus, He takes us as we are. But after we come to Him and put our faith in Him and then receive His Holy Spirit in our hearts as a result, we are supposed to be made Holy by that same Spirit so that we can be “an acceptable offering to God.”
It reminds me of another similar New Testament verse:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”-Romans 12:1-2 NLT
So as Christians, we can be in a place of being unacceptable in His sight. And here’s how:
The word “holy” means to be set apart. In Romans 12:1-2, after it speaks of being acceptable, it goes on to let you know what would make you unacceptable: copying the behavior and customs of the world. Think about a super popular message the secular world gives: be yourself, be who you are, define yourself. This custom is actually in staunch opposition to the Bible, which says God will make us a new creation and change the way we think. It also says to leave our old lives behind and to “put on Christ” to walk in this new way of life He has given us.
Here’s the amazing thing: God doesn’t expect us to change ourselves–that’s HIS job–the Holy Spirit’s job, and that’s one of the main reasons He gives Him to us and sends Him to live in our hearts after our genuine confession of faith in Christ’s sacrifice and bodily resurrection.
I can’t change myself. Before I gave my heart to God, I tried. And failed. But after the Holy Spirit filled my heart, change started happening, and quickly! It was incredible. Suddenly, I had this voracious appetite for the Bible; I wanted more Christian friends; I loved going to church services and talking about God; I stopped cussing, stopped using God’s name vainly, became nicer to my mom, and here I am almost nine years later, and change still happens all the time! I’ve gone from immodest to modest, sexually impure to chaste; super impatient to less impatient lol; sympathetic to genuinely compassionate; defying my husband to respectfully listening to and applying his counsel and desires; the list goes on. And it’s a process! The Holy Spirit is STILL changing me, and the Bible promises:
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”-Philippians 1:6 NLT
So yes, you can be a Christian who is copying the ways of this world and may not even know you’re being unacceptable to God. That’s why knowing what He expects and desires is so important, why getting familiar with the Bible (I always advise starting in the New Testament) is so crucial. God forbid you be in a place where you’re practicing sins that can actually separate you from God eternally! But how would you know unless you get to know what those sins are?
God is so patient and merciful. The fact that you’re still alive means He’s not done with you yet and you still have a chance to open up your bible and get to know “His will for you which is good, pleasing, and perfect.”