Whom Do You Serve? Christ or…?

Whom Do You Serve? Christ or…? April 13, 2023

I write this a few days after Easter Sunday, 2023. Spring shows that new life blooms out of every window. For Catholics (and all Christians), Easter brings us back to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It also reminds us of the new life purchased for us by Jesus. Jesus paid the price we owed for our sins.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Therefore, all who claim the name of “Christian” declare themselves purchased by Christ and now belong to Him.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)

If we claim Christ, we must endeavor by God’s grace to reflect by our faith that we truly belong to Him, for we died with Him on the cross and will one day be raised as He was.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

To live such a life means to live for Christ and not for us—a life set apart. A life marked by holiness, not enslavement to sin. We must take up our cross and follow Him. In doing so, we serve Him. In this article, I reflect on the marks of a holy life. I show that how we live demonstrates who we serve. Do we serve Christ or His enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil?

Holiness As Action

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)

In the above exhortation from St. Peter, holiness means action. It means sober mindedness. As children of God, we must act in obedience to our Father. We must reject our former passions we embraced in our ignorance. We must be holy, as God is holy. Without God’s grace, holiness becomes impossible, as God’s grace gives all who seek after Christ the strength to live holy lives.

2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

An Infused Transformation

Unlike Protestants, Catholics believe in infused grace, or that the Holy Spirit infuses sanctifying grace into a Christian’s soul. The Catechism states:

2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

This belief comes from verses like 2 Corinthians 5:17, which states: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Not merely “declared righteous,” the Holy Spirit makes us truly righteous with our cooperation. Therefore, as we continue to seek holiness, the Holy Spirit continues to transform us into what we seek—holiness.

Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Moreover, the marks of holiness (and the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life) the Holy Scriptures call “fruit of the Holy Spirit.” St. Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 states:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This “fruit” St. Paul juxtaposes to the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21:

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Therefore, those who seek holiness reflect the “fruit of the Spirit” and turn away from the “works of the flesh.” If a Christian returns to the “works of the flesh,” they abandon the path of holiness and turn their backs to the One to whom they owe their salvation and service.

Sin Cannot Become Holiness

Furthermore, if Christians seek to redefine holiness by calling sexual immorality “love” or impurity and sensuality “kindness and goodness,” they, too, abandon the path of holiness for destruction. Not only do they abandon the path of holiness, but they also lead others down destruction’s path. In so doing, these Christians do not serve Christ, but lead Christ’s people to His enemies. Such attempts at redefining and justifying sin are not new in the Church. St. Paul warns the Galatians twice that those who do the “works of the flesh” “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Preserve In Holiness

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

The writer of 2 Timothy, some believe St. Paul, compares the holy life to a “good fight” and a “race.” Both fighting and racing take intense effort and training to achieve success. One cannot just jump into a boxing ring or run a marathon. Once our good fight ends and we complete our race, the Lord rewards us with a crown of righteousness. Of course, all this is only due to God’s grace, so as St. Augustine states, “If, then, your good merits are God’s gifts, God does not crown your merits as your merits, but as His own gifts.” Without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but to do “something,” we must cooperate with God’s grace.

Receive Heavenly Reward

For those who die in God’s friendship, heaven awaits. Some, still needing their minor attachments to things of this world purged, may spend time in Purgatory (1 Corinthians 3:15). The Catechism beautifully states:

1026 By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has “opened” heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.


1027 This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Moreover, those who go to heaven lived their earthly life in preparation for it. They lived as one transformed by the grace of God and bore the “fruit of the Holy Spirit,” the fruit of heaven. This transformation God completes in heaven. In short, those who go to heaven go there because their Lord and Savior is there. Their heart is there… Conversely, those who go to hell do so because of “definitive self-exclusion from communion with God…” Therefore, they too go where their heart resides.


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