Why Pursue Holiness?
How would you describe your dream smoothie? I imagine plump red strawberries, fresh homemade yogurt, a generous swirl of chocolate syrup, whole milk, and plenty of ice cubes. I see the blender chopping, crushing, and mixing this concoction into a thick refreshing drink to be enjoyed on a relaxing Saturday afternoon!
Let’s try another recipe. Toss in a heavily-laden diaper, a rich-smelling pair of socks, and yesterday’s half-eaten hamburger. Drench this with toilet bowl cleaner and a cup of sewer water, and rev up the motor! Twenty seconds later, serve the putrid, grey liquid in a cracked, cloudy glass and you have an extraordinary drink, specially-brewed for your worst of nightmares!
What is your label?
You probably read the labels on food products every day without even thinking about it. You might want to compare products, or you may have to avoid certain ingredients for health reasons. Whatever the case, the first few ingredients reveal the quality of the contents inside the package.
If you wore a label on your forehead, what ingredients would be listed? What do you feed your mind throughout the day? What do you think about as you lie in bed at night? And does it even matter?
Opposites cannot mix
In his second epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul asks a series of rhetorical questions: “…what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (II Cor. 6:14b-16a). Paul doesn’t need to answer these questions; the answer is loud and clear. Opposites cannot coexist or mix!
Christ wants to reign in our hearts, but He will not share His throne with sin. Paul continues his argument for holiness by quoting promises from the Old Testament: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (II Cor. 6:16b). “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (II Cor. 6:18).
Oh, the riches He extends to us—His life-changing presence and identity-reversing relationship! Yet to partake of these precious promises, we must heed His calling: “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (II Cor. 6:17b).
How To Obtain Holiness
Holiness and purity do not just happen. They are the result of a lifelong battle against the flesh and against the enemy who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Do you have a game plan for obtaining holiness?
The grace of God
In eternity past, even before time existed, God had a plan. He knew that Satan would woo the human race into rebellion and sin. He fully understood the depth of depravity that humanity would reach, and the damage they would incur on His perfect creation. He realized that once sin entered the world, mankind would be completely helpless to overcome it’s cancerous appetite. Yet He had a plan.
All through the Old Testament, the Israelites followed a consistent pattern. They would give in to sin and rebellion; God would punish and call for repentance. Eventually they would heed the call and return, starting the vicious cycle all over again. Jeremiah summarizes the helpless state: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9)
All throughout his epistles, Paul paints a beautiful picture of God’s timeless plan. He chose us, the despicable creatures that we were, to be His sons and daughters! God sacrificed His Son, Jesus died and rose again, and the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us. The Holy Trinity works in perfect harmony, giving us all we need to live holy, victorious and God-honoring lives. How shall we not live in daily victory?
We are called to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2a) and to “confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another” (James 5:16a). A practical, effective way to do this is to have an accountability partner or group with whom to share your struggles and prayer requests. Do you have a regular accountability partner or group?
A healthy diet
“…for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7b). Output is a direct result of input. If you feed your mind trash, you will think trash. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8). Does your media diet meet these Biblical qualifications?
Willingness to sacrifice
“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off…” (Matt 5:30a). You know what your stumbling blocks are. If you consistently fail to attain victory, there may be something in your life that needs to be cut off—like a cell phone, a computer, or internet access. It may be temporary, or it could be permanent. Whatever it is, are you willing to make sacrifices in your pursuit of holiness?
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). Do you truly desire purity? Ask! Make it a matter of consistent prayer. I like how A.J. Gordon puts it: “You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” Do you consistently cry out to God for victory?
Holiness does not come naturally. It is the result of a daily choice to crown Jesus as King of our hearts and to dethrone the sinful flesh (I Thes. 4:3-8). As we take intentional steps toward victory, we must never forget that “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (II Pet. 1:3b)! We have access to heaven’s artillery storehouse, so let’s go to war!
Note: All Scripture quoted from the New King James Version.
|Ian Miller lives in Brooklyn, NY and volunteers full-time with a non-profit organization. He is earning his BA in English through College Plus, which he hopes to use to teach ESL, both at home and abroad. He is passionate about urban, cross-cultural church planting, and verbal, personal evangelism.|