“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)
If you spend time reading the Bible, you will quickly discover that the standards of God and the standards of this world are not at all compatible. Modern society says that mankind is essentially good, but this is simply not true. Whatever good we do apart from God does not suitably counter the depravity of our souls. Man is driven by self-interest but the Bible tells us to “deny ourselves,” not in the sense of personal neglect but rather to set aside the pursuit of pleasure, riches and status for the sake of serving the Kingdom of Heaven. The things that are valued by society only lead to misery and death, but the things of God lead to eternal life.
Paul tells us to leave this selfish lifestyle behind and instead let God sanctify us into the likeness of Christ, which is holiness and righteousness. The word holiness is defined as having been purified and set apart for the purpose of serving and worshiping God, and sanctification is the process by which we become holy. When we allow the Lord to do His work in us, we discover our purpose and God’s will for our lives. The things we desire for ourselves only lead to sin and death, but the things that God desires for us are “good and pleasing and perfect”: Perfect in holiness, perfect in righteousness, and perfect in love.