Saturday, March 10, 2012

Living in His Holiness
I Pet.1:13-16 - Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
here is little talk of holiness in these days of boasting and careless living. But here it is direct from the Spirit’s mouth. We are called to be holy because our God is holy. In the Old Testament the High Priest would wear a turban with the words “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” emblazoned upon it. It was a powerful reminder that God is holy, and His High Priest was to be holy as he went about ministering unto the Lord. This holiness thing is nothing to pass over glibly.
The word “holy” in both the Hebrew and the Greek indicate a dedication to something and a separation from something else. Of course Biblically it means we are to be separated unto God and separated from the world. And that process is also called “sanctification” which is us being changed into the very spiritual image of the Lord Jesus. It is a glorious endeavor to which we must surrender fully.
But in a complete reversal to what usually occurs in this world’s system, as we become more like Jesus from the inside out, we become more and more humble. The world boasts in it accomplishments, but we must always be quick to give God all the glory. We can only boast in Christ and His redemptive labor, and God forbid we ever think more highly of ourselves than we should. Our life is a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. There is no time to expend on temporal thing which do not profit in the kingdom.
II Tim.2:1-5 - Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
hese words have become wind and so ignored in this present Christian climate. We no longer desire to keep ourselves unspotted from this wicked world, and if we do have a form of separation it is usually legalism and an expression of self righteousness and judgment. And instead of the weightier issues of the Spirit, we have created a “do and don’t” list which satisfies the religious flesh. And instead of holy vessels clothed with humility and filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus, we become moral judges that are filled with doctrinal hubris and theological combativeness.
But we have not learned this from Christ. This is a concoction of our own making. But the Spirit is drawing many people back to the Words that proceed from the mouth of God. Christ is calling us to surrender to a holy way of living. And this holiness is not predicated primarily upon the externals which should be residual. This kind of life grows deep inside the spirit of believers through a steady diet of prayer and God’s Word accompanied by a relentless pursuit to bring our hearts into a sacrificial obedience. And everything that the world deems important is of little consequence to a believer who is dedicated to seeking Christ and his own personal transformation.
We cannot be self satisfied with not smoking, drinking, or cursing. That must never be an end unto itself. No, we are called to much greater heights of Christlikeness that is so pungent in this fallen culture that it wafts among those with whom we live. And when people are confronted with an unmistakable difference in our lives, it is not some outward legalism or some worldly activism. They do not see us as moral megaphones that scorch the ears of everyone with loud and modern presentations of the Mosaic Law. No, a thousand times no!
We must be beacons of redemption that exude love and grace, sprinkled with salt and light, and that create a thirst for the Savior whom we serve. Let the game of moral badminton continue, but for us we seek to present and emulate the Risen Christ! How dare Christ’s body be sullied by all the earthly causes and the alliances with the children of wrath. They do not need us to reinforce their fallen morals and aid them in convincing themselves that righteousness can be gained through morality, political activism, and nationalistic fervor. What in God’s dear name have we done to His gospel?
Fallen television hosts invite evangelicals on their program and feel no conviction whatsoever in their presence. Of course the world desires a dialogue about the things that concern them, but how many invitations would be forthcoming if our lives were holy and our lips spoke only of Christ and the things of His kingdom? It is way past time for the church to fall on our collective knees and plead and beg and cry out to God to change us once again. We are incapable of changing ourselves, in fact we are incapable of realizing we need to change.
Our natural man recoils at the tension that always exists between what He is and what we are and what we should be. But such is the glory of that journey. The journey itself radiates His glory in our lives. Not that we have arrived since that glory awaits us, but when we diligently seek His heart and when we place ourselves upon His altar it is precisely that process which glorifies our Wonderful Master. And that, brethren, is true holiness.
But the natural man grasps at anything that can be a substitute for genuine discipleship. Anything. Yes, anything but humility. Anything but the prayer closet. Anything but showing uncomfortable love. Anything but denying self. Anything but presenting our hearts daily for the Spirit’s inspection. Anything but a life of moderation and voluminous time spent alone with Him. Yes, the flesh desires anything but those things. But they are the manifestations of holiness through an unholy vessel. And therein lies the breathtaking miracle of grace.
We are still imperfect. And we still stumble. But still in the midst of process the Spirit is able to take a crucified heart and infuse it with the very image of the Christ. It is almost impossible to comprehend. But this can only take place when we deny ourselves and embrace Him which goes way beyond the average and accepted paths that are presented in western pulpits. Preachers are more interested in encouraging rather than challenging. They desire to bless rather than correct. They teach earthly schemes rather than spiritual pursuits. In fact, many times churches bring the unholy right into the gathering that is supposed to be sanctified toward worship.
And as the lunch time arrives, millions pour out into their cars and resume their unremarkable lives that openly refute what their lips say they believe. Holy living has long since been swept aside for the more alluring aspects of this earthly life. Like a child standing on his tip-toes to see over a fence and watch a ball game, the church has looked longingly at the world’s party and desired an invitation. And since the world had no interest in the things pertaining to Christ, the church invited the world into its midst. And an unholy amalgam was formed. No longer holy, the church became the world with a little self serving temperance.
Like a man who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day reveling in the fact that he is down to two packs, so is the church when we claim we are not like the world just because we are not gay or shoot heroin. Somewhere long ago we have lost any thirst for Christ and His kingdom. We have become content with the shallow counterfeit and to even consider something more spiritually strenuous is considered extremism. Well, the Spirit is calling us to holy living that cannot happen overnight or because we spend ten minutes a day reading The Daily Bread. No, this path is a priceless treasure and God will not just toss it around like so much effortless pragmatism.
The path to holy living not only leads to Christ Himself, but it exists only in and through Christ. He is the beginning and the destination, and every step is His. It is most remarkable how the church has morphed into a system and in so doing she has left her first love, the Lord Jesus. But without a radical and sacrificial commitment to seek and obey and emulate Him, all is lost and we are only a handful of religious shills for the very world that hates our Beloved Savior. Jesus is our path, and that path is holy.
Gal.2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Phil.1:20-21 - According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Acts 4:13 - Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Lk.9:23-24 - And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

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