Virtue is an essential Christian principle crucial to improving our relationship with God. The Lord has called us to a holy way of living. God’s grace has placed us in a position to grow into the image of Christ and virtue anchors our devotion to God’s sovereignty. Our Father has made us foreigners on the earth (1 Peter 2:11-12), and this makes it imperative to live according to God’s will.
The Random House Webster’s Dictionary defines virtue as conformity of one’s life and conducts to moral and ethical principles. God’s truth and His word are in the Bible. Every command God has given humans to glorify Him is within the pages of His Book. Our ancient ancestors couldn’t follow God’s commands, and sin prevents us from doing likewise. We can’t do this alone. But Christ can and virtue motivates us to take action and live in His righteousness.
Understanding the reason a believer needs to conform to God’s commands begins with Adam and Eve’s great fall (Genesis 3:1-8). When sin entered the lives of Adam and Eve, it fractured their purity with God. Sin corrupted their mind and disturbed their soul. They couldn’t bear to face God and tried to hide. Their disobedience cost them everything. But God didn’t give up on them and allowed them a way to correct their wrong (Genesis 3:22).
Sin affects us in three distinct ways. First it enters our minds and corrupts our thinking. Next it hardens the heart by making us numb to righteousness. Then its final attack is in our soul, keeping our spirits in conflict with God’s commands. Once God saves us, then we see the trouble sin causes in our mind, heart and soul.
God has chosen us to join Him and a way out of original sin (Mark 1:14-15). The Lord wants us to stay in His kingdom and has shown us a way to change our minds, hearts, and souls. God’s gift of salvation transforms a life bonded to sin into one filled with His grace. You won’t find a more graceful experience than the one God gives. It’s the most divine consciousness a person can ever meet with God. The Lord makes knowing Him a worthwhile journey with incredible results.
God’s enemy knows the mind is one of the greatest parts of creation. It’s not surprising the devil gives his best efforts in trying to rid the mind of thoughts centered on God’s truth. Satan uses sinful books, movies, and music to lure the human mind into a manner of wrongful thoughts unacceptable to Christ. The devil is cunning and understands an unprotected mind from God’s shield is easy prey. Satan’s wants to reprobate your mind and use it against God.
Unlocking the Fruits of Virtue
The best way to combat temptation is praying and meditating. Those two Christian characteristics are the ways we surrender our minds over to the care of God. They are as essential to our spiritual welfare as are food and water are to our physical survival. Without nourishing our bodies, we become sick and die. The same holds true for our soul. A neglected relationship with God is a set up for eternal disaster with fatal results (Job 8:13-15).
Prayer was a constant action of Christ. Jesus understood the need for prayer and often spent time away from everything. Christ spent private time with His Father (Luke 5:16). Since we are abiding in Christ, then shouldn’t we follow His lead?
Christ taught us the right way to pray. Jesus’s instructed us to be simple in our prayers and left us with the correct approach (Matthew 6:1-15). When we follow Christ’s manuscript of praying, then God takes notice. It’s in those scriptures we gain insight into how God responds to proper praying. “… your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
How does God reward us? The most obvious is heaven. But until we die a physical death, God wants us to experience His love, mercy and grace. God makes this possible through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Without those two pure ingredients, we won’t accept God’s recipe for eternal life. Our daily bread is vital to adhering to God’s law, and the way of finding our spiritual food is embracing God’s prayer. There is no substitute for Christ’s commands since God has made Him the way to His kingdom.
Another example Christ shared on rightful praying is found in His Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
Also, He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)
God responds to a humble prayer. God is pleased when a believer comes to him free from pride. To be justified by God is an extraordinary experience full of His Spirit and filled with His grace. And to be exalted by the Lord is virtue’s greatest reward.
As Christians, we know the power of prayer. One of the most exhilarating experiences of following God is bearing witness to the strength others find in prayer. Here we see God healing their suffering and attest to the miracle of prayer. This experience with the way Christ intervenes motivates us to keep praying, and our personal answered prayers confirm the validity of communicating with God.
Another great weapon against sin is asking Christ for help. Jesus wants us to pray to Him.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works I do he will also do; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do.” (John 14:12-14)
Once you place your faith in Christ without reservations, then He will intercede for you. By trusting Christ, He promises to pray for you.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O, righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)
With Christ’s prayers, the devil flees, and God will draw closer to you. Here you gain the greatest protection from the evil one and secure your place in heaven. God doesn’t forget those who adhere to His truth!
Prayer alone is good, but when united with meditation an unshakable trust in God emerges.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8 ESV)
Meditation is contemplating over God’s truth and is a mighty tool in strengthening our minds against sin. When our thoughts become connected with God, a remarkable mental transformation occurs. We remember the way He wants us to act in a world riddled with wickedness. The more we meditate on Christ, the better we become in obeying God’s commands.
The world has many types of meditations. It’s easy to fall victim to the meditations that don’t focus on God’s words. They manifest themselves in self-glorification where the focus is placed on emotions, breathing or chanting. None of them bring the mind in line with God’s words. Salvation is giving glory to God and meditation is glorifying Him with the mind.
God showed Joshua the fruits of true meditation. He placed His law as the way to use the mind in a healthy manner. God promises to give spiritual prosperity and a successful holy life to those who follow His plan of meditation.
Once our minds become focused on God’s words, then we meditate on His truth. And the more your mind is centered on God’s truth then your relationship with Christ becomes stronger. Uniting the mind with God’s word enhances spiritual knowledge and forms a defense against an unfavorable thought pattern towards God’s truth. It’s not by accident that God places Christian thoughts inside a believers mind. It’s a direct result of meditating on His truth and the best way of staying on the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14).
The Book of Psalm has many references to contemplating on God. Psalm 77:3, 38:12, 77:6, and 145:5 to name a few. The emphasis of meditation remembers God’s truth, and virtue puts us in the best mental state to conform our minds to Christ’s teachings. It’s hard to sum it up the need for meditation, but we can agree God keeps His promises. Psalm 119: 97-99 explains the fruits of thinking on God’s word, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.”
Prayer and meditation have helped me overcome many problems. I have found strength beyond my own. God has blessed me with answered prayers, and this has inspired me to spend more private time in prayer. Meditation has allowed me to find peace of mind in times of distress. The most comforting place I find in my struggles of life is becoming still and think of God’s truth. I have found harmony with my surroundings from meditation. This serenity is uplifting and changes my outlook on life.
I love drawing closer to Christ and prayer, and meditation is my immediate actions in building an unshakable bond with God. When my disobedience increases, it can be traced back to my lack of prayer and meditation. This connection between adherence and disobedience is no accident. It’s Christ’s way of letting me know how important devotion is to my salvation.
We have discussed a few ways virtue helps strengthen our trust in Christ. By adding virtue to our faith, we align our will with Christ’s body. Prayer and meditation begin our compliance with God’s standards. The neat thing is God will show you other Christian principles that will build an unshakable foundation for His kingdom. To stop at virtue is tragic since the Apostle Peter’s message goes beyond conformity. We will want to go further and continue growing under God’s righteousness.