Growing up in a house of builders, I learned early on the value of a measuring tape, level, and T-square. And not just valuable tools, but necessary, unless you wanted to mirror Green Acres (sorry, if you are too young to understand that cultural reference). As in constructing a house, building a life requires exact measuring (not by our desires, emotions, inclinations or experiences) by God’s plumb line. “He showed me this: The Lord was standing there by a vertical wall with a plumb line in his hand. The Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”
I replied, “A plumb line.”
Then the Lord said, “I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel. I will no longer spare them.” (Amos 7:7-8).
My parents grew up in a climate of legalism mingled with black and whites. My generation and the one below it has embraced the snuggly teddy bear of the gray. But, I’m here to warn ya: that gray bear will eventually bite you in the butt. Our society’s banner of moral relativism has bled into the doctrine of the church, making it hard to discern what righteousness, purity, truth, and real love actually are.
Legalism and stringent adherence to rules for the sake of earning favor (with God or man) and setting unrealistic expectations over others isn’t what delights God. In fact, Jesus rebuked such prideful motivations. However, in veering away from one ditch, we need to be carry we don’t swerve into the other. Christ called us to holiness. Out of deep love for Him, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard of righteousness, recognizing that we will fail, but persevering in purity. He sets the bar; not us.
Isaiah 45:9: “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?”
Make no mistake: Jesus Christ is our righteousness. He is the only reason we are saved from a life of destruction and condemnation, but neither should we scoff at the high price of grace. “Well then, shall we keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not!” (Romans 6:1).
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
As believers, we are called to a life of purity, not indulgence:
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
“In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:4-6).
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
Do you feel confused about what God’s plumb line looks like? He’s given us the true and living way. Through His Word, we can discover what His standard is on sexual purity, marriage, sexual identity, lust, anger, hatred, revenge, lying, envy, dealing with difficult people, speaking truth, work, rest, and fulfillment. Scripture is where we find the level to our crooked. If something has veered off and becomes wonky, remember it’s we who’ve pulled away from the straight and narrow. Our God hasn’t changed, nor has what He’s called us to altered.
Proverbs 12:28, “the path of righteousness is life.”