Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pursuing Holiness

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy;
without holiness no one will see the Lord. 
Hebrews 12:14

Wow. Has anyone ever really contemplated the second half of that verse. 
Without holiness NO ONE will see the Lord.  
We are given a huge responsibility here. Holiness is not just about winning favor with the Lord. 
Holiness is about helping others to see Him. 

We look around at our nation and the surrounding godless countries. We wonder why everything looks like it is on a one way train to hell. It is in our movies. It is in our music. It is in our relationships, it is in our government. It is in everything.
Everywhere we look people are lost.  And we can't figure out where to place this blame?
We even go so far as to blame God. 
Well I have a very sad truth. A truth that brings tears to my eyes and a sickness to my stomach.
A truth that sends chills down my spine as I sit here and write this to you. A truth that convicts me to my core. 
We are the culprit. We are the ones to blame. And we can continue to point our finger at God. We can even continue to point our finger at the devil. But until we realize that we are responsible, we will live in a desperately lost godless world. 

I am not saying the enemy plays no part in this. He is definitely a confuser, a deceiver, and a tempter. And he deserves a good amount of the blame. 
But one of the easiest ways for us to forfeit all responsibility is to blame everything on the enemy. And if we forfeit all responsibility then we live as if their are no consequences. 

We have been made holy by Christ Jesus. And we are, therefore, called to be holy on a daily basis. Holiness should be something we desire. 

"If there is not, then, at least a yearning in our hearts to live a holy life pleasing to God, we need to seriously question whether our faith in Christ is genuine.... True salvation brings with is a desire to be made holy. When God saves us through Christ, He not only saves us from the penalty of sin, but also from its dominion."
Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness

Holiness is not a condition of salvation because we are not saved by works. But it should be a byproduct. As children on the King, we should be grieving over the sin in our lives, not trying to justify it. 
My problem is justifying the little things. The movies, the innuendoes, the jokes, the language, the humor. There are so many little things we allow into our life that are in all actuality disgusting.  
We fill our heads with mindless garbage and then we wonder why we don't have the influence we would like to have. We want revival for our generation. We want change. But we are no different then the people we are trying to save. And we wonder why God wont use us. 

"Holiness is necessary for effective service to God....' If a man cleanses himself from ignoble purposes, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.' (2 Timothy 2:21). Holiness and usefulness are linked together. We cannot bring our service to God in an unclean vessel."  
Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness

This doesn't mean that we have to be perfect for God to use us. We all know that is impossible. We are flawed human beings.  And on our own we are desperately wicked. But "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2. Cor 5:21). Our righteousness is not our own. To live a holy life we have to surrender ourselves daily to God's righteousness. We have to understand that strength begins with Him. The moment we think righteousness is our own, is the moment we become overwhelmed by the calling on our life. Living with that mentality will cause us to stumble in our salvation. It will cause us to despise ourselves instead of the wickedness that lives within us. It will cause us to give up.
We need not live with that kind of burden. 

"You, if you diligently pursue holiness, must often flee to the Rock of your salvation. You flee there, not to be saved again, but to confirm in your heart that you are saved through His righteousness alone. You begin to identify with Paul when he said; 'Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst' (1 Timothy 1:15). It is at this point that Christ's holy life lived on your behalf becomes so important to you." 
Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness 

We need to recognize the sin in our life, realize our need for His righteousness and begin to live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Father. 
We need to stop settling for moral mediocrity and call sin what it is. Our hearts are wicked and they will justify, rationalize and excuse our actions. We need to ask our Father to search our hearts and  make us aware of our iniquity so that we can turn from it. 
We need to realize that Satan is the accuser and he will spend forever trying to discourage us in our sin. He will make us believe the battle isn't worth the fight. 
But let us remember why this battle rages. There are hearts and souls on the line. There are people who need to see the image of Christ in us. And they will not see it, if we do not strive for it. Holiness is not a request. Holiness is a demand.

 "Be Holy because I am holy." 
(1 Peter 1:16) 


Monday, August 3, 2009

Fix Your Eyes

One of the hardest facts I have learned to face is that people will always disappoint you. 
As harsh as that sounds it is true.

I cannot name one person who has ever proved this wrong. 
Its not that people are hopeless, its that people are fallen. 
They can't help but be human. 
Whether or not they are moral, you cannot count on them to be flawless.
One of the most dangerous things we can do as Christians, is fix our eyes on other believers. 

I have met a countless amount of people who have walked away from God or left the church because of the hypocrisy they saw in the Christians around them. 

I admit, it is a difficult thing to expect greatness out of someone and watch them fall on their face before your very eyes. 
But when this causes your own faith to be shaken,  you must ask yourself what you were putting your faith in in the first place. 

Too many times we put our trust in people rather than the God they serve. 
We admire their choices and place them on pedestals they were never meant to be placed on.
We watch intently as they go though life making note of every characteristic and choice that we want to emulate.
And when they fall, as humans do, we stumble along with them leaving our faith at the mercy of their humanity. 
I cannot think of a more dangerous place to put our faith. 

There is one being in this universe that will never disappoint us; one who will be faithful to us in every aspect of the word. One who will love us selflessly and unconditionally forever. One being who will not and cannot fail. And that is God. 

We must take our eyes off of whatever we have put in His place.
Whether it is a role model, a pastor, a teacher, a leader, a parent, a friend, a relationship, or whether it is ourselves, we need to turn our eyes back to heaven and fix them on the one person who is incapable of failure. 

Our faith will be the strongest when we put it in a powerful God.