Pursuing righteousness is a very real struggle. Sometimes it feels near impossible. We get lost in the busyness and shuffle of life, we get discouraged by our failures, feel frustrated with our own inability to change; especially when we know what choices we should be making. Romans 7:15-17 comes to mind every time I think of this struggle,
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me."
These verses encourage me because they remind me that my failures do not become me. God does not define me by my shortcomings. He knows that I will mess up on a daily basis and still calls me daughter. He loves me for who I am, not what I have done or what I will do. I am his, and that makes me an heir to the kingdom, a beneficiary of his great inheritance.
God's love is unconditional. Dictionary.com defines unconditional as "not limited by conditions" or "absolute". You see, God's love does not depend on our day to day actions. God does not love us more one day because we were mostly good and then unlove us the next day because we messed up. He loves us all days, absolutely.
Even though God loves us unconditionally, we are still to obey him.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 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.
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Because of his great love for us, God outlined for us how we should live. That we might experience life to the fullest.
To arm him against the love of the world, he directs him to follow that which is good. It is not enough that men of God flee these things, but they must follow after what is directly contrary thereto. Matthew Henry's Commentary.
I am confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-11
Confirming One’s Calling and Election
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.