unexceptional

©2021 michael martin | ask@lifefellowship.org

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unexceptional

When you were growing up, did anyone ever tell you that you were special? To be sure, each one of us is a special, unique creation of God. We each have value as God’s handiwork, as we are told in Scripture:

ephesians 2:10  niv 

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

psalms 139:13-16  niv 

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

As special creations of God, we are each valuable and special. That’s a nice thought when it comes to understanding our value.

you’re special, but…

The trouble is, as sinful people, it’s all too easy for us to twist our notions of being special and unique into a flawed understanding of how we relate to God and to other people. Let’s explore some areas in which our notion of being exceptional is misapplied. Here are a few of them:

mis-application of feeling exceptional

Thinking too highly or lowly of ourselves

Thinking that our circumstances are exceptional

Thinking that God doesn’t have answers or solutions for my "exceptional" problems

Thinking that our sin is justified because of "exceptional" circumstances

If we understand from Scripture why these above notions are incorrect, we can be encouraged to know that none of us are beyond God’s reach. So let’s explore these issues further…

section 2

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thinking too much of ourselves

proverbs 16:18  niv 

18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

proverbs 11:2  niv 

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

proverbs 29:23  niv 

23 Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

1 john 2:15-16  niv 

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

It’s natural as sinful humans for us to think too much about ourselves. We may worry too much about our appearance, or we may spend our efforts trying to manipulate others into thinking highly of us.

These concerns stem from pride. Let’s examine some ways in which we might think too much of ourselves.

thinking too highly of ourselves

philippians 2:3-8  niv 

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

proverbs 3:7  niv 

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

The most obvious way that we think too highly of ourselves is to be conceited and prideful. While most people understand this enough not to be overtly conceited or arrogant, it remains very easy to harbor pride in more private and subtle ways.

am I prideful?

Do I think I’m smarter than most everyone else?

Do I think that I am more important than others?

Do I think that others spend a lot of time thinking about me?

Do I want to be admired?

the trouble with fame

We should take a moment to address our culture’s interest in fame. We admire people who are famous, and many of us desire fame for ourselves. But human fame can very easily cause people to sin. The famous person can start to believe their own press and think too highly of themselves. Conversely, fans of famous people can idolize them rather than ascribing God His true glory.

This problem was present in the Corinthian church, forcing Paul to deal with the issue:

1 corinthians 3:1-7  niv 

1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

This problem with "famous preachers" still haunts the church today. Whenever a particular teacher or preacher is able to present sound doctrine in a dynamic and engaging way, it’s a wonderful thing. However, it’s easy for us to idolize them, thinking more highly of them than we should. But the most dynamic preachers and speakers are still fallible, sinful humans, capable of teaching error and of falling into sin.

We can always praise God when He uses any of us fallible humans, but we should never forget that the glory for God’s works belongs wholly and exclusively to God.

acts 10:25-26  niv 

25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself."

small parts of a larger body

romans 12:3-8  niv 

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Here, we are plainly told not to think too highly of ourselves. Instead, we should understand, with sober judgment, that we are but small parts of a larger body. While some of our purposes and functions in the body might be unique, we are not exceptional. Let’s take a moment to explore this further from First Corinthians chapter 12…

a closer look at the body of Christ

1 corinthians 12:12-13  niv 

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

First, it is important to note that all of us who belong to God’s Kingdom share the same Holy Spirit. In this way, we are all on level ground with one another in terms of our placement and importance. Keep this in mind as you read on…

1 corinthians 12:14-17  niv 

14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

Here, we see examples of feeling inferior or out of place because we may not have the same perceived prominence that other people have. For example, a janitor in the church might not feel he belongs to the church because he’s not a pastor or elder. Their roles differ, but neither is exceptional. Both are needed to serve important functions, as this passage continues to show us:

1 corinthians 12:18-21  niv 

18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don’t need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don’t need you!"

While we may each possess different skills and talents, none of us can say to those whose roles are different that we don’t need them. Without the janitor, for example, the pastor cannot devote as much time to teaching. Somebody has to clean. Somebody has to teach. And while sinful humans might think of one role as being more important than the other, God’s Word tells us otherwise:

1 corinthians 12:22-26  niv 

22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it..

We are neither more or less important than any other member of the body. We have differing roles with different levels of visibility, just as God has assigned us.

Circling back around to Romans chapter 12, we see again that God has given each of His children a specific gift or gifts which are to be used in serving each other. Those who seem to have more "important" gifts are nevertheless dependent upon those who seem to have less "important" gifts.

romans 12:3-8  niv 

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

The point is, while each of us is special with regards to how God made us and how He gifted and equipped us, none of us are exceptional in terms of our value or our importance to God. This, then, is why we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought.

thinking too lowly of ourselves

We’ve seen that we shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves, but what about thinking too lowly of ourselves? What about people who believe they’re exceptional because they think they’re exceptionally bad?

We’ve already seen that pride is sinful, because it focuses our attention on ourselves rather than on Christ. It’s obvious that pride can result in thinking too highly of ourselves. However, when we think too lowly of ourselves, that’s pride too! We’re still focusing on ourselves rather than on Christ.

This is when it is helpful to remember that each of us is on the same level as everyone else, in that we are all failures:

romans 3:23-24  niv 

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Read that again. All of us fall short of God’s glory. No matter who we are or how we compare with anyone else, we have all failed to meet God’s standard. And, if you’re a child of God, you’ve also been every bit as justified by God’s grace as anyone else.

These next passages tell us the same thing in more detail:

galatians 6:1-6  niv 

1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

ephesians 1:3-14  niv 

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

In God’s sight, you’ve either been covered in the perfection of Christ by His grace and sacrifice, or you haven’t. If you’ve given your life to Christ and chosen Him as your Lord and Savior, the passages above apply to you, regardless of how you might think you compare to other people. To put it another way, if you’ve given yourself to Jesus, the next two passages (among others) apply:

romans 8:1-2 niv

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

galatians 2:20  niv 

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Here, we are reminded that, as disciples of Jesus, our old, sinful selves have been crucified with Christ. Those old wretches that we once were have been replaced by the righteousness of Christ living in us. And, while we continue to struggle with sin as redeemed children of God, our sins are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus, and we are counted equally righteous with everyone else who belongs to Jesus. It is His righteousness with which we are credited, and so there is no point in viewing ourselves as worthless.

So, if you struggle with thinking too lowly of yourself, you’re believing a lie, and you’re still acting in pride…

if you think you’re exceptionally bad, it implies:

You’re somehow beyond God’s reach

That Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough to redeem you, because you’re somehow exceptional

That none of God’s works or promises can work for you

How incredibly prideful! But the beautiful truth is, you’re not exceptional! If you belong to Christ, you’re just as redeemed, just as forgiven, and just as worthy as anyone else, because you were saved by the same Savior and are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit!

So, whether you think too highly of yourself, or too lowly, you’re thinking too much of yourself. Stop! Either way, you’re not exceptional.

section 3

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thinking that our circumstances are exceptional

Although we’ve seen that we are not exceptional, we may still believe that our circumstances are exceptional. As we navigate through the challenges we each face in our lives, we might sometimes find ourselves in circumstances which, it seems to us, no one else is facing or has ever faced. We think that our circumstances are exceptional.

When we imagine that our circumstances are exceptional, and that no one else deals with (or has dealt with) the struggles we have, we convince ourselves that we are alone. We believe that no one else can understand, sympathize, or help us through our struggles, because we believe that our problems and struggles are exceptional.

But God’s Word tells us that this is not true either, as we"re about to see…

1 corinthians 4:7  niv 

7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

1 peter 4:12-14  niv 

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

1 corinthians 10:13  niv 

13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

ecclesiastes 1:9-10  niv 

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.

elijah’s struggle

The prophet Elijah struggled with being discouraged. After Jezebel threatened his life, Elijah fled and hid, even despairing of his own life. In his despair he thought he was alone. But God reminded him otherwise:

romans 11:2-5  niv 

2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah–how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me" ? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

Here’s the full account:

1 kings 19:1-4  niv 

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them."

3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."

For context, all of this happened shortly after God had shown Himself powerfully on Mount Carmel by miraculously setting a water-drenched altar to the Lord ablaze with fire from heaven. (1 Kings chapter 18) This happened in full view of all the prophets of Baal, who had tried unsuccessfully all day to show the power of their false gods.

Despite having seen God’s power, he was still fearful for his life at the news of Jezebel’s threats, and he was very discouraged, despairing of his life. That’s when God strengthened him...

1 kings 19:5-10  niv 

5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

In Elijah’s despair, God told him to take care of his physical needs, involving eating and sleeping. This gave Elijah the strength to carry on for forty more days, but he remained discouraged.

Elijah thought that he was the only one left who followed the Lord. He thought that he, and his struggles, were exceptional. This is when God passed by Elijah to strengthen him...

1 kings 19:11-14  niv 

11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

In the depths of Elijah’s despair, God was with him. He provided for Elijah to eat and sleep, He strengthened him, and He even passed by Elijah and spoke to him.

Nevertheless, Elijah needed some time to snap out of his despair. He still believed that he and his struggles were exceptional, even though God had been with him. That’s when God reminded Elijah that he was far from exceptional:

1 kings 19:15-18  niv 

15 The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

After instructing Elijah to anoint a new king, God pointed out that there were still seven thousand people in Israel, along with Elijah, who hadn’t bowed down to Baal.

God was sympathetic to Elijah’s despair, but His remedies for Elijah were very simple and commonplace. It simply involved obeying God while taking care of his physical needs. And as Elijah obeyed, God then revealed that he was not alone, and never had been.

Elijah thought that he and his struggles were exceptional. We often feel this way about our own struggles and circumstances. But like Elijah, we are not exceptional.

"unique" equations derived from common factors

Although we’ve seen that our circumstances are not exceptional, you might be thinking to yourself, "how can the Bible, written thousands of years ago, really address the problems I have today?" And things are different, but...

Even the most complex mathematical equations can be broken down in a series of smaller, simpler, elementary equations.

The most complex operations performed by a computer are all derived from a series of simple binary questions. Is it a "1" or is it a zero? It is upon those simple "ones and zeros" that all of computing is based.

Our circumstances are the same way. Whatever we’re dealing with, it can all be broken down into a combination of basic issues which are addressed in Scripture.

does the bible really address my struggles?

We may think that God doesn’t have answers or solutions for our "exceptional" circumstances. But as we’ve seen, the circumstances we face, regardless of how unique or unusual or complex they may seem to be, are all made up of simpler, more basic factors. These base factors, temptations, sins, and solutions are all covered and detailed in Scripture.

2 timothy 3:16-17  niv 

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 peter 1:3  niv 

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.

Since God’s Word gives all the information we need for life and godliness, we can be sure that Scripture holds the solutions for the basic issues upon which our circumstances are built.

More than that, the specific Biblical solution for any of our circumstances will always be built upon this:

matthew 22:37-40  niv 

37 Jesus replied: "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

section 4

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thinking that our sin is justified

If we convince ourselves that our circumstances are exceptional, it follows that we will convince ourselves that we are justified in sinning to deal with those "exceptional" circumstances.

We might say things like, "I know that God tells me not to steal, but my case is different." Or, we might hold fast to a sinful choice because "the Bible doesn’t really apply to my situation."

did God really say… ?

genesis 3:1  niv 

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? "

Satan asked Eve, "Did God really say that you can’t eat from any of these trees?" That doesn’t sound very reasonable, does it?

If Satan could cause Eve to question whether God’s command was reasonable or whether God had fully considered Eve’s needs, Eve could be tricked into thinking that God’s command must not really apply to her. Surely God wouldn’t intend to withhold something good from Eve!

Satan, of course, was lying. He misrepresented God’s command and it’s meaning so that Eve could feel justified in disobeying. He lies to us too. Moreover, we lie to ourselves. We imagine that we are justified in our sin because our circumstances are exceptional.

We suppose that God’s Word doesn’t apply to us, because God. never imagined the circumstances we’re dealing with. For example, if we are lying about something, we might be tempted to think, "yes, I know that the Bible commands me not to lie, but my situation is different."

In other words, we justify our disobedience to God by imagining that His Word doesn’t take our specific circumstances into account.

We think we are the exceptions to God’s ways, and that following His Word won’t work for us. But that’s a lie.

1 corinthians 10:13  niv 

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Here, God’s Word tells us that we aren’t facing any temptation that others aren’t facing or haven’t faced. While we might argue that no one else has ever faced the precise, specific circumstances we are facing, many others have faced exactly the temptations that our circumstances are tempting us with.

proverbs 16:2  niv 

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

proverbs 12:15  niv 

15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

The conclusion is clear. When we think we are justified in our sin because the Bible doesn’t apply to us, we lie to ourselves. Neither we, nor our circumstances are exceptional, and neither is our sin..

section 5

how we are to stand out

Now that we’ve thoroughly established that we are unexceptional, let’s conclude our study by looking at how we are supposed to stand out from the world around us.

don’t conform, be transformed…

romans 12:2  niv 

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

shine His light…

philippians 2:14-16  niv 

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

matthew 5:13-16  niv 

13 "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.

14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

live by the Spirit

1 peter 2:11-17  niv 

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

galatians 5:18-25  niv 

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

excepted from the world…

We are all special, unique creations of God, and we are all valuable, both to Him and to others. Yet, none of us are exceptional, either for better or for worse in God’s sight. We are all equally guilty, and if we belong to Christ, we are equally redeemed. God’s Word applies equally to all of us, and it holds the wise and moral answers for all of our circumstances.

Yet, in view of all this, we arrive at this conclusion. We should strive to live lives that are exceptional from the ways of the world.

In the end, therefore, we should be transformed, letting His light shine, and living by the Spirit.

No exceptions.