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“For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

Goodmorning! Or goodnight, or whatever time of day you are reading this! I am currently doing a devotional called Armor of God by Priscillia Shirer and I am in the chapters talking about the Breastplate of Righteousness. Priscillia talks about how important our hearts are because they are the enemy’s number one target. The devil knows if we do not put on righteousness he can make us believe we are not worthy of it. He can “get us in our feels” as some would say. I do not know about you, but I know myself, and I doubt my level of “goodness” all the time. I definitely have days where I feel unworthy of the call of God in my life, like I am not doing enough, and surely not righteous enough. God is perfect and as is his standard of righteousness, there is no way we can measure up. How do we shake free of perfectionism while still meeting God’s standard of righteousness? Well, thankfully, Jesus died on the cross for that. Jesus took our sin from us while at the same time making us righteous. He did not just take away our sin, he gave us the gift of his own righteousness, we just have to believe him at his word. Romans 4 and Genesis 15:6 both talk about how Abram believed the Lord would give him the son he promised even though it was not likely in the world’s eyes since he and his wife Sarah were so old! It says in these passages that “His belief was credited to him as righteousness.” When we trust God will do what he says, when we believe him, it counts as righteousness.

If you are a Christian, you probably already knew that but you need help to believe it. You need practical action steps to help you put on righteousness, right? I know I do. In Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV) Paul says to “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the NEW self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” We cannot just put off our old self, we have to put something new on. What are the things you put on daily as a daughter of the King? In Dallas Willard’s work, Renovation of the Heart, he sums it up this way, “Information is first. ‘How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard’ (Romans 10:14). Without correct information, our ability to think has nothing to work on. Indeed, without the requisite information, we may be afraid of thinking at all, or simply incapable of thinking straight.” (Renovation of the Heart, 103). What Willard is saying here is that without proper information or a lack of information altogether we cannot and will not be able to renovate our heart, AKA become righteous. How often do we hear a sermon at church about striving to be holy? James 4:17 says, “the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it sins.” I think this is part of what Paul is speaking about in Ephesians 4 when he says to “put off” and “put on”. If we are truly pursuing righteousness and not just saying we want to be holy, we must be pursuing the knowledge of what the right thing to put on is. But where do we get this knowledge? My pastor at our small church in Atlanta Georgia this past weekend said something I respect a lot and have never heard a pastor say before. He said what our “teachers” or “pastors” say is not the ultimate truth or source of right and wrong, but Scripture is. He said we should be testing what we hear people say, even what we hear him say. He came to a point of humility to say on stage, “I am not your source of righteousness, God’s word is.” He is asking God for wisdom and clarity and “fact checking” himself before going on stage, but he is saying we are called to do the same. To not just believe everything we hear, but to go to an accurate interpretation of God’s word, our only real source of renovation! I think scripture is something we can all struggle with sometimes because we always feel the need to read more but lack the motivation so we just do not read. I have had a lot of girls DM me on Instagram asking “how do you read the Bible, or how can I get motivated to read the Bible?” There is no one size fits all answer for this but I love how once again, Dallas Willard puts it when he talks about the discipline of memorizing scripture (as Ellie Holcomb spoke on in the last blog). He says,

“The desired effect will not be realized by focusing on isolated verses, but will certainly come as we ingest passages, such as Romans 5:1-8 or 8:1-5, 1 Corinthians 13, or Colossians 3:1-17. When you take these into your mind, your mind will become filled with the light of God himself. And light shines into darkness and darkness loses. When the light comes into a room we do not have to say, Now what are we going to do about the darkness?Its gone!

You say, ‘I can’t memorize like that.’ I assure you, you certainly can. God made your mind for it and he will help you. He really wants you to do this. Of course, that will be an integral part of the other changes that will penetrate your life as a whole. As you CHOOSE to give your time and energy to, and plan your life around, the renovation of your mind, it will happen! But you must CHOOSE to do it and learn how–just like learning to program and live with your TV. Then you will know by experience that the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, and in all the deflections of life your mind will automatically recenter on God as the needle of the compass returns to the north.” (Renovation of the Heart, 113).

Wow. I was so convicted once I read that passage. Willard is not trying to say “you are not righteous unless you memorize the whole Bible right now.” He is simply saying our desire should be for Christ and to become more like him. In our thought life we must first know what truths we are to be thinking on. I believe this is the number one reason our generation is so depressed, struggles with intense anxiety, disordered eating, insecurity, confusion, the list goes on and on. Because the source of every thought about ourselves and the life we live is from social media strangers we follow for their outfits instead of their morals, Hollywood movies with constant sex scenes and graphic images, inaccurate media and news outlets, once again, the list goes on and on. If we consume our phone above all else anxiety and depression will reign in our hearts and minds. If we consume God’s presence, his word, relationship with him above all else, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit will reign. At the end of each week when my phone sends me my screen time report, however many hours it is, I try to make it less hours the next week and prioritize certain habits to help me do that. In turn I have far more time for God’s word and practicing his way. One of my favorite authors, John Mark Comber, talks about what he calls “rules of life” in several of his books. According to John Mark,

“A rule of life is a schedule and set of practices and relational rhythms that help us create space in our busy world for us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did—to live “to the full” (John 10v10) in his kingdom, and in alignment with our deepest passions and priorities.

While the word “rule” may strike you as a strict or binding constraint, the Latin word we translate “rule” was originally the word for a trellis in a vineyard. In the same way a vine needs a trellis to lift it off the ground so it can bear the maximum amount of fruit, and keep free of predators and diseases, we need a rule as a kind of support structure to organize our life around “abiding in the vine,” (John 15v1–8) as Jesus imagined.

It’s been said that we achieve inner peace when our schedule is aligned with our values. A rule of life is simply a tool to that end. Rather than a rigid, legalistic to-do list, it’s a life-giving structure for freedom, growth, and joy.” (Practicing The Way, JMC)

I love this perspective because it shows that yes, if we are to pursue the renovation of our heart and to be more like Jesus’, we must make certain “rules” in our lives to give us organization and drive! Truly, we want to be successful in our personal lives, so we make to do lists, while our time with God is far from a to do list, it is something that must be done in order for us to truly succeed in our walk with The Lord. So, what do we believe? #1 We KNOW we are righteous because God made us righteous when he died for us. Go ahead and tell the devil right now that you are righteous because of Christ so he can stop convincing you otherwise! #2 We ACT out of that righteousness! We learn the truth, believe it and stay in it. He is the vine and we are the branches. Hard things feel like a discipline when you first start them. This past summer I started to have convictions about certain things in my life I honestly did not want to be convicted about or change, but as I have slowly and prayerfully begun to shift around my priorities, putting what scripture says first above my desires, God has made me thankful for those convictions. I cried the whole way home from Church the other day in gratitude that God was coming in and helping me become more righteous through the convictions he has given in this season instead of leaving me where I was.

Friends, I am with you in this fight of dying to self and living 100% for Christ!! It is crazy how far we have come because of Christ and how far we still have to go because we can never fully arrive. But we get to rest in the assurance that our sweet Jesus already did the hard part. We just get to fall in love with his story and ask him where we fit in! I encourage you to take what you have read and ask God to give you convictions and help you act on them. He will not do it for you, but he will do it with you. Have you decided to make God a constant presence in your mind? Dear friend, he is knocking, but it is up to you to open the door.

Love you so much,

Kat <3

I live in Atlanta Georgia with my husband Casey and we run a company called He Would Love First, answering the question What Would Jesus Do (WWJD x HWLF)! I also have a small ministry called be a blessing to help girls with body image/disordered eating. I was a collegiate runner who battled a lot of injuries which led to struggles with food and insecurity so I am very passionate about helping girls overcome that! Lastly, I’m an LO sis ambassador and love everything Sadie and her team are doing! Thankful to have been able to be a small part the past year?!
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Kat Shultis

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