Brother Michel Lankford
Someone wrote and asked me the following question:
“What are the Essential Virtues to living a life that is consistent with your faith?”Anonymous
It’s a great question. Thank you for submitting it. You know who you are.
This is why definitions matter. That’s because once we understand what virtue means and what sin means, then answering this question becomes an unbelievably easy and straightforward matter.
To be a Truly Virtuous Thing it MUST be a GOOD Thing
I think we can all agree that in order for something to be truly “virtuous,” it MUST by necessity be a “GOOD” thing, by definition.
From God’s point of view, to be, “GOOD” [(טוֹב) ṭôb-In Hebrew] good literally means that something FUNCTIONS in the way that the Almighty Creator INTENDED and DESIGNED that particular thing to function when He created it.
In other words, if a person or a thing is working, and is functioning in the manner that the Almighty Creator designed and intended for that thing to function, then it can rightly be said to be GOOD from God’s point of view. Conversely, if a person, or a thing, is NOT working or NOT functioning as God created and intended for that person or thing to function, then it CAN NOT be truly GOOD, by the truest definition of that term.
What “GOODNESS” Looks Like
- God intended us to learn and to walk in love toward God and each other.
- God intended us to walk by faith in God and in Messiah.
- God intended us to learn and practice keeping His Commandments so that we could learn HOW to Love.
- God intended us to glorify and honor God with our lives.
- God intended us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that we should treat others as we would like to be treated.
- God intended us to recognize His Standards, to aim for His Standards, to Shoot for His Standards, and to HIT His Standards.
- God intended us to CONFESS and to REPENT when we MISS His Standards.
- God intended us to REPENT when we MISS, and RETURN to aiming for, shooting for, and HITTING God’s Standards.
- God intended us to CONTINUE DOING these things; to PERSEVERE and NOT QUIT
- God intended us to learn and practice doing good, and to overcome evil by doing good.
That is what “Basic Goodness” looks like, and how it functions.
To be a Truly Virtuous Thing it MUST NOT be a SINFUL Thing
By definition, if the Almighty Creator defines something to be a sin, then it is NOT a GOOD thing, which means it is also NOT virtuous.
Sin is ANY Violation of God’s Laws, Commandments, and Instructions. Any Violation of His Commandments, His Words, His Desires, or His Stated Intentions is a Sin, by Biblical definition.
As it is Written: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4 KJV; cf. Romans 7:7; Hosea 8:1; Daniel 9:11; Isaiah 5:20-24)Virtue is HITTING the target of God’s Standards. To sin is to MISS God’s Virtue Targets or Standards.
The Original Languages:
In Hebrew: HATA (Hebrew Strong’s #2398) Literally to MISS God’s Standards (eg. Hosea 8:1; Daniel 9:11; Isaiah 5:20-24; Romans 7:7).
In Greek: Sin is MISSING the mark of YHWH’S Highest Standards (e.g. Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). The key Greek words: HARMATIA (Greek Strong’s #266) – which is an archery term that means “To miss the bull’s-eye or to miss the mark” of YHWH’S best Standards. (E.g. Romans 6:23).
Sin Is Living Outside of God’s Law
In Greek: Another word for SIN is ANOMIA**, or Lawlessness Greek Strong’s # 458-459 –(ANOMIA Lawlessness IS SIN)
- The condition of being without Law
- Being ignorant of the Law
- Violating/ Breaking the Law
- Having contempt for the Law
- “To be destitute or in violation of the Mosaic or Jewish Law“ A.K,A. Illegality;
- iniquity; to break, transgress or walk in violation of the Law- (see also 1 John 3:4)
(See both Thayer’s and Strong’s Original Language Lexicons)*
One of the devil’s biggest and most long-lasting tactics has been to confuse people about what virtue means. Think about it. If a person does not see the “virtue target,” he cannot AIM for that target. The less he aims for it, the less likely he is to “HIT” the virtue target, obviously.
That is WHY we MUST do our best to RETAIN God’s Definitions squarely in our sights. That’s what helps us to SEE what the “Virtue Targets” are. The more that we see God’s Virtue Targets, and recognize them as valid, the more we will aim for those targets. The simple law of averages tells us that the more often you aim for and shoot for a target, the more often you will HIT that target. You can’t often hit a target that you don’t actively aim for, and you won’t intentionally aim for a target that you have not trained yourself to believe is a worthwhile target to hit.
What are God’s Most Basic Universal Virtue Targets
“These are the MINIMUM Requirements for “Virtue.”If this accurately describes your lifestyle, then you are a person of “Virtue.” If this ISN’T the lifestyle that you choose to live, then you are NOT a truly “VIRTUOUS” person. Please Don’t kid yourself.”
Obviously then, the next paramount question is, “What are God’s ‘Virtue Targets?” After all, I want to be virtuous. I want to HIT “God’s Virtue Targets” more often. To do that I’m going to have to aim for, shoot for, and HIT “God’s Virtue Targets.” Obviously, you cannot successfully aim for, shoot for, or often hit a target that you do not see or recognize to be a valid target. So, what are God’s Virtue Targets?
To be truly virtuous it must be done in Godly Love: Loving god FIRST, and then Loving others. Did you desire it, think it, say it, and DO it in accordance with Godly Love? If YES, then you are doing right. IF NOT, then you have sinned. You missed God’s target. Therefore, you need to repent, and practice walking in Godly Love (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; Ephesians 4:32; Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:34-40; Matthew 7:12).
To be truly virtuous it must be done by faith in YHWH Almighty God and by faith in Messiah: Did you desire it, think it, say it, and DO it in accordance with Faith toward God and Messiah? If YES, then you are doing right. IF NOT, then you have sinned. You missed God’s target. Therefore, you need to repent and practice walking in Faith. Biblically, anything that is NOT done in FAITH is SIN. So in order to be righteous and virtuous, it must be done in faith (Romans 14:23b; Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:1,6; Romans 10:17; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; 1 John 2:22).
To be truly virtuous one must be obedient to the Commandments of God and Messiah: Anything that disobeys God and disobeys Messiah is a sin by definition. Did you desire it, think it, say it, and DO it in accordance with OBEYING YHWH Almighty God and Messiah’s Commandments? If YES, then you are doing right. IF NOT, then you have sinned. You have missed the mark of God’s target for excellence. You need to repent and practice choosing and acting in AGREEMENT with God and His Instructions. To do anything less is to sin (Deuteronomy 7:9; Deuteronomy 18:18-19 1 John 3:4; Hosea 8:1; Daniel 9:11; Matthew 5:17-20; Matthew 7:24-25; Luke 11:27-28; John 12:49-50; John 14:21; Ephesians 5:1; John 15:10; Romans 8:5-8; 1 John 2:3–5; 2 John 1:6).
To be truly virtuous it must glorify God on purpose: Scripture clearly tells us that we should target doing everything we do on purpose to glorify God (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Ephesians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). Therefore, the next question should be obvious. Did you desire it, think it, say it, and DO it in accordance with the intent to GLORIFY and HONOR YHWH Almighty God on Purpose? If YES, then you are doing right. IF NOT, then you have sinned. You missed God’s target. You need to repent. You need to be intentional about learning to choose and doing what pleases and glorifies God in all that you do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17-23; James 2:12; John 5:19, 30; 1 John 2:1-6).
To be truly virtuous we must do the good things that we already know to do: Scripture is abundantly clear that if we know a good thing to do, and we do not do it, then it is sin (James 4:17). Therefore, did you desire it, think it, say it, and DO it in accordance with the good things that you already know to do from God’s Word? If YES, then you are doing right. IF NOT, then you have sinned. You missed God’s Target. and need to repent, (James 4:15-17; Isaiah 5:20-24). You need to practice doing the good things that you know to do, if you want a greater Revelation of God and Jesus Christ (John 14:21; Romans 12:21; Acts 24:16; Galatians 6:10). Remember, genuine Revelation and understanding only come to those who are obedient.
To be truly virtuous we must treat others the same way that we would like to be treated ourselves: Were your thoughts, your desires, your words, and your actions toward this other person equal to the way that you would desire to be treated yourself (Matthew 7:12)? If the answer is YES, then you are doing right. If the answer is NO, then you have sinned. You missed God’s target. You need to practice your archery and practice treating others the same way that you would like to be treated yourself.
To be truly virtuous we must practice repentance when we MISS God’s Virtue Targets (2 Chronicles 7:14; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Proverbs 3:5-7; Matthew 4:17; Revelation 3:19). To do that successfully, we must recognize and admit that God’s Virtue targets are valid Targets (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30; Psalm 19:7-14). We must recognize and confess when we MISS God’s Virtue Targets (1 John 3:4; Romans 7:7; Psalm 51; 1 John 1:8-9) We must actively TURN AWAY from sin and whatever causes us to MISS His Virtue Targets (Ezekiel 18; Luke 15:11-32; Luke 19:1-10). We must actively RETURN to archery practice. We must practice and CONTINUE to AIM for, SHOOT for, and HIT God’s Virtue Targets. We must CONTINUE, and NOT QUIT archery practice (Proverbs 24:16; Romans 12:21; Matthew 7:7-8; Galatians 6:7-9). Keep practicing your archery and DON’T QUIT.
God’s Commandments Are His Love Training Program
Every Commandment given by God in Scripture can be divided into one of two big categories. The Commandment will either train you to love God with all your being more perfectly (e.g Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6). Or, the Commandment is meant to train you and give you the functioning mechanics to learn HOW to love your neighbor as yourself more perfectly (1 John 5:2). That is why learning and practicing the Commandments is important because without practicing God’s Commandments we don’t learn how to love. It’s by learning and practicing keeping God’s Word that we become perfected in love (1 John 2:5).
The way that you learn to OVERCOME evil is by DOING What God Said is Good
As it is written: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21, ESV)
As it is written: Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21, NCV)
As it is written: The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14, ESV)
As a person of faith, those are the basics for living a “Virtuous life. So, how about you? Are you truly living a Life of virtue, as God defines that term? Are you fervently aiming and shooting for these targets? How often do you practice shooting for these?
I truly hope this was helpful to you.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Brother Michel Lankford