Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Without holiness?

Personal sanctification, personal holiness: the very end of the good things God works out for His children- to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Not too long ago i was listening to Albert Martin in his adoption series and twice he repeated something i believe he has a good finger on-- He said (with force) how sick and tired he was of reformed people who only wanted to hear gospel indicatives (what I am in Christ, what God has done, my assurance) but not gospel imperatives (commands and prohibitions).
Indeed there has been an incredible over-reaction to legalistic teaching or shaky holiness preaching: the likes of Ravenhill and Tozer, although Godly and incredibly used of God could definitely border condemnation in some things they taught.
Let me make this clear, i am now writing to those who have a FIRM grasp on the LOVE of God and the GRACE of God and who WITHOUT a DOUBT grasp that we DON'T earn God's love, that HIS LOVE IS CONSTANT to His children.
With that said, let me now speak very bluntly and i would caution you to NOT hide behind a unbalanced over-emphasis of a doctrine you like to think about more. Indeed i will say this rather BOLDLY and i fully suspect what i say will sound PROPHETIC and i'll tell you why, because I'm speaking from first-hand experience in fact i'm rebuking myself!
Although this is probably true of every generation, it seems there is so much de-emphasis on holiness today that it's sickening, in fact it's bordering heresy. I constantly hear QUICK replies to any biblical admonishment to personal holiness 'well God's grace.....' 'well God is sovereign and....'. That's not a biblical approach to holiness, that's a very CASUAL attitude towards God. We need more than ever a clear view of the majesty of God, of the Holiness of God: in short we need a biblical response to the FEAR of God, to the FEAR of Christ. There is no separation between the old and new testaments of the holiness of God, in fact contrary to popular thought the holiness and fear of God is MAGNIFIED in the TESTAMENT!!!!
WHat wickedness on our part, what sloppy living on our part-- this more than anything is what draws me to certain writers because i have in the back of mind as i read a cry, a weeping that says 'I WANT MORE!!'. I can say without hesitation that the worst feeling as a Christian is a sense of apathy, a losing of desire, nothing is worse than that! I can say that there's simply not enough desire today, and this because we are deceiving ourselves.
In the reformed camp, in my life, it's very easy to convince yourself that you don't want to be legalistic or wrongly motivated and then NEGLECT the BEST things, NEGLECT prayer, study, self-examination, avoidance of the worlds influence, because you KNOW you are saved by grace. Consequently we can get awfully close to the very purpose of the letter of JUDE; we at times in our twisting of our position in Christ can TURN THE GRACE OF GOD INTO a LICENSE to SIN!!!! Do we not tremble before God, do we NOT tremble to think of how we are representing Christ to this world, to our spouses, to our children???? Can we escape judging ourselves, can we ESCAPE the conviction of the Spirit by HIDING behind JUSTIFICATION???? Oh I pray you won't do that, I pray that I won't do that. Will you Hide behind the sovereignty of God, and get really close to BLAMING God for your sin??? Or will you fight, will you STRIVE to enter in the narrow gate (luke 13:24), will you press on (Phil 3:12), will you by violently take heaven (matt 11:120, will you make it your aim to please Him (2 cor 5:19)?
We need holiness, we need a MORE concentrated effort to take HOLD of the weapons God has provided, we MUST fight the good fight of fight. I believe it was Ravenhill who said the verse in Eph 6 we wrestle not against principalities..... would be better termed for many of us today 'we wrestle not'-- is that true? Certainly I must agree on my part that it has seemed more like a 'cruise' with some bumpy parts rather than a war!
Pride more than anything, Pride is the cause of this great malady and i would have to say that this pride is the great temptation of a good grasp of sound doctrine. It's very easy to slow down in a zeal to be like Christ once you've started to grasp some truths you've never understood and that because you have put those truths, those foundational pillars in FRONT of in PLACE of what you have KNOWN TO do. Thus in your sin, in your human logic, you have reasoned yourself into a state of compromise of complacency. WHEN IN FACT those doctrines, those GREAT truths, like the Sovereignty of God in your salvation, the perseverance of the saints- understood RIGHTLY should LEAD you to GREATER, i said GREATER humility, the essence of that HUMILITY will be a greater dependence on the work of God; which means a GREATER use of the disciplines of godly living and also a greater love for the lost, a greater zeal for the glory of God.
We have by the grace of God, not of anything we have earned or deserved, been rescued by the Love of God, from the wrath of God. God had every right to CRUSH us under His wrath, yet in our place He crushed His son, His concentrated wrath was UNLEASHED on the spotless, gentle, suffering servant, Jesus CHRIST His son. Oh how we should be driven to our knees, how sick and tired we should be of our weakness, and more than anything how angry we should be at our sinful EXCUSES.
I believe it was the Purtians, i know John Owen touches this, who spoke of NOT healing yourself too quickly when you repent. I think we do this too much, it's like we have been programmed to think that anything that doesn't bring immediate joy must not be good, must not be from God; even in the work of salvation many can't imagine someone being overcome by conviction for days,weeks, months before conversion.
For many students of the word, many ministers i think that too many are satisfied with learning, satisfied with a FORM of godliness, and not giving much attention to holy living. To doctrine much time, much energy, someone might talk till they are blue in the face about expositional preaching and the need of good theology and how we must give ourselves to reading, some will devote decades in seminaries to attain more and more info yet they will come out lifeless and dusty, IF they don't pursue GODLINESS, if they don't give attention and I would say MORE, MUCH MORE attention to their life, to their private life.
Let me end with this quote from Paul Washer: "I know of many Arminians that LIVE beyond their theology, but NOT too many Calvinists that LIVE up to theirs"
Family of God this shouldn't be so, let us with diligence pursue HIM, let us by grace display humility by SUBMITTING to GOd in ALL things, let BEG God to give us a GREAT desire, a GREAT sensitivity to what GRIEVES the Spirit, a GREATER conformity to our GLORIOUS SAVIOR Jesus Christ!!!!

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