Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Holiness should be ENCOURAGED not halted!!!

The pursuit of Holiness, is the pursuit of God! We have been saved, been chosen, been rescued to a great and awesome Savior, and we can now cry Abba Father! Holiness then is achieved as we cling to God, it's a desire to behold the face of God, to know and enjoy Him.
Casting aside ALL straw men, all the over-reactions from all the extra-biblical extremes, casting aside the legalism of performance based motivation or slavery, let us think practically about HOLINESS!
We are a holy priesthood, we are ministers of God (we minister to Him); In this reality we must walk and pursue God. Taking the kingdom by violence, willing to slow down for no man, for no earthly thing. God works in us by His grace, and by His pleasure He has given us 'means', 'tools' to put to use in our pursuit of Him, and though we make conscious choices, we actually strive and fight, we know it is God working in us!
Though I say this, and though many may say 'Amen', there seems to be a growing disconnect within the church. That disconnect has to do with putting these things into practice, let a man talk of holiness and he can be popular but let him apply it to others or live it himself and here come the firefighters!
Leonard Ravenhill (and no I wouldn't endorse him without caution) had this to say:
Watch out though, because if you're going to get mature in God, all the dwarfs around you will criticize you and sneer at you and say, "Trying to be holier than the rest of us, huh? So you don't have time for basketball or going to see a baseball game?" No, maybe you don't, but that's nobody's business but yours and God's.

Isn't this the day we live in? The day where if a godly man or a godly woman gets SERIOUS about their holiness, serious about their time, serious about what they are exposed to, serious about their conversations, serious about the media, serious about prayer, serious about the lost, and serious about the word then they are told to SLOW down. A day of childishness of immature speech, of petty peeves, and entertainment is our day!
How would you respond to a person that has made what seems to be radical choice in our day? A young person taking a stand on dating seeing it's pitfalls and desiring to be holy? Perhaps parents with children with growing worldliness who decide with much sacrifice to pull them from the carnal public school system (WAIT just a minute--did the thought come across your mind 'oh great another homeschooler!" when i said that?-overreaction!) ? What if a lady takes a stand on modesty, perhaps a young adult who is conscious of her brothers in Christ? What of a young person who asks to have Internet access CUT from his/her cell phone or computer because they can't resist temptation (perhaps they know no one will guard them) and so would rather not even have it? What of a believer who can't stomach filth on the tv screen, who can't keep a pure, joyful, and focused mind with it's influence and decides to throw it out? What if a believer (let's say a woman) decides to limit her time with believers to things eternal ONLY (that thing called fellowship) because she's prone to gossip and complaining? Well? How would you react, or it might be more fitting to ask how HAVE you reacted? Is such a seriousness warranted by scripture, should we be so consumed with pursuing God? Is there such a thing as TOO much holiness, too much LOVE for Christ? Certainly not! Yet why have I seen such things discouraged by other believers? Why is there such a fear of being too distinct, too like Christ? Why do people feel the need to say things like 'well there's still so much good you could get out of this or out of that...', 'well we all fall, you need to enjoy your liberty' "well I'm not tempted by those things, if you're not that strong then I guess that's your conviction'.
I'm not saying that there aren't things that are personal convictions, things that may pertain to only some types, things pertaining to how you are personally affected by something.
What I am contending against, what seems to leave me suspect is when believers reply in defence when they hear of another believers convictions. It would seem to me that if someone has made such a choice in their pursuit of holiness, then other believers should rejoice with them, not feel defensive unless of course they are being convicted by someone who hasn't even implied that they should do likewise; this is exactly what I have seen. I've seen little jokes thrown from the pulpit on these matters, I've seen young people told to take it easy, to not get too radical, people that have been encouraged to JUGGLE worldly influences with their piety.
Why not rejoice, or if also convicted join with those who are diligently pressing into the kingdom. as pertains to ministers we desperately need more men of ONE book and less men that are culture experts. JC Ryle said this:How striking is the light which the Bible throws on the character of man! It teaches us what men may be expected to be and do in every position and occupation of life. It gives us the deepest insight into the secret springs and motives of human actions, and the ordinary course of events under the control of human agents. It is the true "judge of the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). How deep is the wisdom contained in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastics! I can correctly understand an old Christian saying, "Give me a candle and a Bible and shut me up in a dark dungeon, and I will tell you everything that the whole world is doing."
That's what we need men who can't get enough of the scriptures, men who live by their belief in an infallible and sufficient Word of God. Oh for men and women who would but seek the face of God daily. Shouldn't it be our greatest desire to be around people who are enamored with God, give me a 15yr old who loves the word and is obsessed with things of the Lord over a 50yr old expert who has no discernible passion for Christ Jesus any day and I will be seek to be stirred by their faith! Believer I hope you would put no stumbling blocks before believers who are striving hard after God, I hope you would encourage that fire even more, and even desired to get warm off their heat!
Spurgeon said: Urgently do we need a revival of personal godliness. This is, indeed, the secret of church prosperity. When individuals fall from their steadfastness, the church is tossed to and fro; when personal faith is steadfast, the church abides true to her Lord.It is upon the truly godly and spiritual that the future of religion depends in the hand of God. Oh, for more truly holy men, quickened and filled with the Holy Spirit, consecrated to the Lord and sanctified by His truth.Brethren, we must each one live if the church is to be alive; we must live unto God if we expect to see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in our hands. Sanctified men are the salt of society and the saviours of the race.
Dear brother or sister in Christ, run the race putting aside every stumbling block, everything that would hinder you and never mind if you're misunderstood, never mind if people label you a legalist, never mind if others would tell you to relax, to slow down, praise God He's working mightily in you, let nothing keep you from YOUR blessing!
Such a pursuit then is absolutely motivated by a longing for MORE of God, yet there is another aspect to this holiness to the need for separation, for distinction: a desire to glorify God in the eyes of the ungodly. We who are His, should absolutely be careful how we act before a watching world because we represent Christ. The image of Christ in the eyes of the world should be a factor in how we live. Mt 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. For His glory, for His honor we are to be careful how we walk before the world, notice it doesn't say 'so that people get saved'. 1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
With that said brothers and sisters, let us then encourage holiness in others and pursue it ourselves. Now i will bow out with yet another quote and that from A.W. Tozer
Every man is as close to God as he wants to be; he is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wills to be. Our Lord said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” If there were but one man anywhere on earth who hungered and was not filled the word of Christ would fall to the ground. Yet we must distinguish wanting from wishing. By “want” I mean wholehearted desire. Certainly there are many who wish they were holy or victorious or joyful but are not willing to meet God’s conditions to obtain.

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