Morality and Holiness. The difference, Important roles and effects, and social and spiritual benefits to a Christian.
- Author Adebamiji Aderotimi
- Published April 29, 2023
- Word count 3,973
Moral and holiness are related but distinct concepts.
Moral refers to the principles or standards of right and wrong behaviours. It involves making decisions and taking actions that align with these principles, even when it may not be easy or convenient. Morality can be influenced by cultural norms, religion, personal values, and ethical theories.
Holiness, on the other hand, refers to being pure, perfect, or spiritually perfect. It is often associated with religious or spiritual beliefs and practices and involves striving for a state of moral and ethical purity or sanctification. Holiness can involve living a life that is dedicated to a higher power or deity and following specific religious laws or practices.
Morality is focused on behaviour and decision-making; holiness is focused on spiritual purity and dedication to a higher power or belief system.
Differentiate between morality and holiness in the Christian life?
In Christianity, the concepts of morality and holiness are interconnected, but they have different connotations and applications.
Moral refers to the principles and values that guide ethical decision-making, behaviour, and relationships with others. Christians believe in moral absolutes, such as the Ten Commandments, which define right and wrong conduct. The Christian moral code also emphasizes love, forgiveness, humility, and justice as key virtues.
Holiness, on the other hand, refers to the state of being pure, set apart, and consecrated to God. Holiness is seen as a lifelong process of transformation that involves growing in faith, obedience, and spiritual maturity. Christians believe that holiness is not something that can be achieved by human effort alone but is a gift of God's grace, received through faith in Jesus Christ. Holiness also involves pursuing a life of prayer, worship, service, and devotion to God.
Morality emphasizes ethical conduct and relationships with others, holiness emphasizes the pursuit of a close relationship with God and living a life that is dedicated to His will and purpose. Both concepts are essential for Christians to live a faithful and fruitful life, but they focus on different aspects of the Christian faith.
The important roles of being morally upright in the Christian life?
Being morally upright is essential for Christians as it is a reflection of their commitment to God's will and purpose. Here are some important roles and benefits of being morally upright in the Christian life:
Glorifying God: As Christians, our primary goal is to bring glory and honour to God in everything we do. When we live a morally upright life, we reflect God's character of righteousness, love, and holiness to those around us, and we bring honour to His name.
Bearing witness to the Gospel: Our behaviour and actions can speak louder than words when it comes to sharing the message of the Gospel. When we live a life of moral integrity, we demonstrate the transformative power of God's grace and love, and we can effectively witness to others the truth and relevance of the Christian faith.
Building healthy relationships: Moral uprightness is the foundation for healthy and meaningful relationships with others. When we practice honesty, kindness, forgiveness, and respect, we create a culture of trust, compassion, and unity in our families, churches, and communities.
Resisting temptation and sin: Moral uprightness enables us to resist the temptation to sin and to live a life that is pleasing to God. It gives us the strength and courage to overcome the influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil and to pursue righteousness and godliness.
Growing in spiritual maturity: Being morally upright is a key component of spiritual growth and maturity. It involves a willingness to learn, obey, and follow God's word, submit to His will, and cultivate a heart of humility and gratitude. As we grow in moral uprightness, we also grow in our relationship with God and in our ability to serve Him and others.
Avoiding consequences: When we act in morally wrong ways, there are often negative consequences that follow. For example, lying can damage relationships and lead to loss of trust, stealing can result in legal consequences and financial ruin, and immorality can lead to physical and emotional harm. By being morally upright, we avoid the negative consequences that come with sinful behaviour.
Honoring God's commands: God has given us commands and principles to follow in His word, and being morally upright is an expression of our obedience to Him. It is a way to show our love and respect for God and to honour His wisdom and guidance in our lives.
Setting a positive example: As Christians, we are called to be salt and light in the world, and being morally upright is an important way to fulfil this role. When we live according to God's moral standards, we set a positive example for others to follow and can help to bring positive change to the world around us.
Improving mental and emotional health: Living a morally upright life can lead to improved mental and emotional health. When we act in ways that are consistent with our values and beliefs, we experience a sense of inner peace, purpose, and fulfilment. We also avoid the guilt, shame, and regret that can come from engaging in sinful behaviour.
Reflecting Christ's character: Ultimately, being morally upright is a way to reflect the character of Christ to the world. Jesus lived a life of perfect moral integrity, and by following His example and teachings, we can become more like Him and reflect His love and grace to others.
Note: Ultimately, being morally upright is crucial for Christians because it reflects our commitment to follow Jesus and live according to His teachings. Jesus Himself lived a life of perfect moral integrity, and He calls us to do the same. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." This does not mean that we will achieve moral perfection in this life, but it does mean that we should strive to live a life that is consistent with God's character of righteousness, love, and holiness.
As Christians, we are also called to be ambassadors of Christ to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20). This means that we are to represent Jesus to others through our words, actions, and character. Being morally upright is an important way to fulfil this role, as it helps us to reflect the character of Christ and to demonstrate the transforming power of His grace and love to those around us.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that our moral conduct has eternal significance. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, the apostle Paul describes how our works will be judged at the "judgment seat of Christ." He explains that "each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done" (verse 13). In other words, our moral conduct will be evaluated by God, and we will be rewarded or disciplined accordingly.
Being morally upright is crucial for Christians because it reflects our commitment to follow Jesus, it helps us to represent Him to others, and it has eternal significance. As we seek to live a life of moral integrity, let us look to Jesus as our example and rely on the power of His grace to transform us from the inside out.
The importance of holiness in the Christian life.
Holiness is an essential aspect of Christianity, and it is important for several reasons:
It reflects God's nature: God is holy, and He calls His people to be holy, as well. Leviticus 19:2 says, "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.'" Pursuing holiness means striving to reflect God's character in our lives.
It sets us apart from the world: As Christians, we are called to be in the world but not of the world. Pursuing holiness means we are set apart from the sinful patterns of the world and are dedicated to living a life that is pleasing to God.
It promotes intimacy with God: Holiness involves having a close relationship with God, as we seek to live in obedience to His commands and reflect His character in our lives. James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
It helps us to resist temptation: Pursuing holiness involves resisting temptation and avoiding sin. By relying on God's strength and power, we can overcome temptation and live a life that is pleasing to Him.
It brings joy and peace: Pursuing holiness brings joy and peace to our lives, as we experience the blessings and favour of God. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
It enables us to fulfil our purpose: As Christians, we are called to glorify God with our lives and to fulfil the purpose for which He created us. Pursuing holiness enables us to fulfil this purpose, as we strive to live a life that is pleasing to God and reflects His character.
It strengthens our witness: Pursuing holiness also strengthens our witness to the world, as it demonstrates the transformative power of the gospel in our lives. When others see the way we live and the choices we make, it can draw them to Christ and inspire them to pursue holiness, as well.
It promotes unity in the church: Pursuing holiness promotes unity in the church, as we strive to live in harmony with one another and to love one another as Christ loved us. Ephesians 4:3 says, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
It prepares us for eternity: Pursuing holiness also prepares us for eternity, as we seek to live a life that is pleasing to God and to store up treasures in heaven. Matthew 6:20-21 says, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
It brings glory to God: Ultimately, pursuing holiness brings glory to God, as we strive to live a life that reflects His character and brings honour to His name. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
The effects of being morally corrupt in the life of a Christian?
There are many potential effects of not being morally upright in the life of a Christian. Here are a few examples:
Strained relationship with God: When we knowingly engage in immoral behaviour, it can create a barrier between us and God. Sin separates us from God and hinders our ability to experience His love, peace, and guidance in our lives. Isaiah 59:2 says, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear."
Weakened spiritual vitality: When we compromise our moral standards, it can weaken our spiritual vitality and hinder our ability to grow in our relationship with God. We may struggle with prayer, Bible study, and other spiritual disciplines, and our faith may become stagnant. Hebrews 5:11-14 warns about the dangers of spiritual immaturity and the importance of spiritual growth.
Loss of credibility: When we profess to be Christians but do not live according to God's moral standards, we can lose our credibility and influence with others. We may struggle to share our faith or to lead others to Christ, and our witness may be compromised. Romans 2:24 says, "As it is written: 'God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'"
Negative consequences: Immoral behaviour often has negative consequences, both for ourselves and for others. We may experience guilt, shame, and regret, and we may suffer relational, emotional, or physical harm. Galatians 6:7-8 warns that we will reap what we sow and that those who sow to please the flesh will reap destruction.
Hindrance to personal growth: When we engage in immoral behaviour, it can hinder our personal growth and development. We may struggle with addiction, unhealthy habits, or other patterns of behaviour that hinder our ability to live the abundant life that God desires for us. 1 Corinthians 6:12 warns that "everything is permissible for me--but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me--but I will not be mastered by anything."
Diminished witness: When we engage in immoral behaviour, it can diminish our witness to the world. Our behaviour and choices may contradict the message of the gospel, and others may view us as hypocritical or insincere. As Christians, we are called to be salt and light in the world, but when we compromise our moral standards, we can lose our effectiveness in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
Damage to relationships: Immoral behaviour can also damage our relationships with others, including our family members, friends, and fellow believers. We may hurt or betray those who trust us, and our actions may cause long-lasting damage to our relationships. In some cases, our immoral behaviour may even lead others to stumble or fall away from the faith.
Consequences in the afterlife: The Bible teaches that there will be consequences for our actions in this life, as well as in the afterlife. While Christians are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we will still be held accountable for our moral choices and behaviour. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul writes, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." Those who persist in immorality and unrepentance may face discipline or loss of rewards in the afterlife (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Damage to self-esteem: Immoral behaviour can also damage our self-esteem and sense of worth. We may feel guilt, shame, and condemnation for our actions, and we may struggle to forgive ourselves and move forward. This can lead to a cycle of self-destructive behaviour and negative thought patterns. As Christians, it is important to remember that our worth is not based on our performance or behaviour, but on our identity in Christ (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
Social, economic, and spiritual obstacles that can prevent Christians from being holy and morally upright?
Several social, economic, and spiritual obstacles can hinder Christians from becoming holy and morally upright. Here are some examples:
Social pressures: Christians may face pressure from society to conform to worldly standards and values that are contrary to the Bible. For example, popular culture may promote materialism, sexual immorality, and other behaviours that go against God's commands.
Economic challenges: Economic challenges can also be an obstacle to holiness, as Christians may be tempted to compromise their values to succeed in their careers or businesses. This can include cheating, lying, or engaging in unethical business practices.
Spiritual warfare: The Bible teaches that there is a spiritual battle taking place between good and evil, and Christians may face spiritual attacks that seek to undermine their faith and commitment to God. These attacks can take many forms, such as doubt, fear, or temptation.
Unforgiveness and bitterness: Christians may struggle with unforgiveness and bitterness towards others, which can hinder their ability to love and serve God wholeheartedly. This can also lead to conflicts and division within the church.
Legalism and self-righteousness: Christians may fall into the trap of legalism or self-righteousness, where they focus on external behaviours and appearances rather than the heart. This can lead to judgmental attitudes and a lack of grace towards others.
Lack of spiritual discipline: Finally, a lack of spiritual discipline can be an obstacle to holiness. Christians may struggle to develop habits such as prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers, which are essential for spiritual growth and maturity.
Cultural relativism: In today's increasingly pluralistic society, Christians may be challenged by the belief that morality is relative and subjective. This can lead to a lack of clarity on what is right and wrong, and make it difficult for Christians to hold fast to their convictions.
Pride and ego: Pride and ego can also be an obstacle to holiness, as Christians may become too focused on their achievements or status. This can lead to a lack of humility, a lack of concern for others, and a disregard for God's commands.
Persecution and opposition: Christians may also face persecution and opposition from those who oppose the gospel and the teachings of the Bible. This can take many forms, such as discrimination, ridicule, or even physical harm.
Temptation and sin: Temptation and sin can also be a significant obstacle to holiness, as Christians may struggle with addictive behaviours, sexual immorality, or other forms of sin. This can lead to a sense of guilt or shame, and make it difficult to maintain a close relationship with God.
Lack of accountability: Finally, a lack of accountability can be an obstacle to holiness, as Christians may not have people in their lives who can challenge and encourage them to grow in their faith. This can lead to isolation, complacency, and a lack of motivation to pursue holiness and moral uprightness.
Benefits of being holy and morally upright.
There are many benefits of being morally upright and pursuing holiness in the life of a Christian. Here are a few examples:
Intimacy with God: When we strive to live according to God's moral standards, we can experience a deeper level of intimacy with Him. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8), and we can experience His love, joy, and peace in our lives. Psalm 15:1-2 says, "Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart."
Spiritual growth: Pursuing holiness and moral integrity can also lead to spiritual growth and maturity. As we obey God's commands and seek to become more like Him, we can grow in our faith, knowledge, and wisdom. 1 Peter 2:2-3, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."
Fruitfulness: When we live a life of moral integrity and pursue holiness, we can bear fruit in our lives that bring glory to God and blesses others. Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit of the Spirit as "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These qualities can help us to be a blessing to those around us and to make a positive impact in our communities and the world.
Credibility: Pursuing moral integrity and holiness can also increase our credibility and influence as Christians. When we live according to God's moral standards, others may take notice and be drawn to the truth and beauty of the gospel. Our witness can be strengthened, and we may be better able to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. Matthew 5:16 says, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Freedom: Living a life of moral integrity and pursuing holiness can also bring a sense of freedom and peace. When we are not bound by the chains of sin and temptation, we can experience true freedom in Christ. John 8:36 says, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Protection: Pursuing holiness and moral integrity can protect us from the negative consequences of sin. When we live in obedience to God's commands, we can avoid the destructive effects of sin in our lives and the lives of those around us. Proverbs 3:7-8 says, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones."
Clarity and direction: Pursuing holiness and moral integrity can also give us clarity and direction in life. When we seek God's will and strive to live according to His moral standards, we can have confidence that we are on the right path. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
Joy and fulfilment: Pursuing holiness and moral integrity can also bring joy and fulfilment to our lives. When we live in obedience to God's commands, we can experience a sense of purpose and meaning that comes from knowing that we are living for something greater than ourselves. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Eternal rewards: Pursuing holiness and moral integrity can also lead to eternal rewards in heaven. While we should never strive for holiness and moral integrity simply to earn rewards, the Bible does promise that those who faithfully serve God will be rewarded in the life to come. Matthew 6:19-20 says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
In summary, holiness and moral uprightness are essential aspects of the Christian life, as they reflect the character of God and enable believers to live in a way that honours Him. However, many social, economic, and spiritual obstacles can hinder Christians from pursuing holiness and moral uprightness. These obstacles include social pressures, economic challenges, spiritual warfare, unforgiveness and bitterness, legalism and self-righteousness, lack of spiritual discipline, cultural relativism, pride and ego, persecution and opposition, temptation and sin, and lack of accountability.
To overcome these obstacles, Christians must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, cultivate spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study, and seek accountability and support from other believers. By pursuing holiness and moral uprightness, Christians can experience the social, economic, and spiritual benefits of living in obedience to God.
For further reading on this topic, here are some recommended resources:
"The Pursuit of Holiness" by Jerry Bridges
"Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" by J.C. Ryle
"The Holiness of God" by R.C. Sproul
"The Discipline of Grace" by Jerry Bridges
"Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald Whitney
Additionally, the Bible contains many verses and passages that speak to the importance of holiness and moral uprightness in the Christian life. Some examples include:
1 Peter 1:15-16 - "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy because I am holy.'"
Ephesians 4:1-3 - "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Matthew 5:13-16 - "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Adebamiji Aderotimi is a filmmaker, Video editor and a student of Theology at UMCA, Theological College, Ilorin Kwara State.
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