Sunday, March 7, 2010

Don't despise 'holiness'

What does it mean to be 'holy'? I don't mean what does it mean for God to be holy, nor do I mean what does it mean for us to be declared 'holy' by the cross work of Christ.
The question I pose is what comes to mind when you hear the call to 'holiness'? I believe from simply observing reactions over the years that for many the word conjures up thoughts of suffocating legalism. This is not limited to those apostates who merely make a profession of faith but truly pervert the grace of God in a license to sin, but even some mature believers.
Practical holiness is usually something accepted as a subject in a systematic theology, or something that is welcomed when it's preached through dead men. It's always amazing to witness people who say they enjoy reading and listening to dead men who were not afraid to apply the word to the daily lives of their hearers, yet the same people that like these Luthers, Puritans, Spurgeons, Ravenhills, DON'T enjoy that 'kind' of preaching from the living.
As many have avoided all teaching concerning the Holy Spirit because of abuses, likewise because of LEGALISM many are shying away from speaking about personal holiness.
Such a situation should be quite frightening since practical holiness is not a minor subject, it's not something which the scripture gives little attention to.
But first, let's get something perfectly clear, I don't know what you mean when you say 'holiness' but as I understand it, it is this:
From God's perspective-It is God conforming you to the likeness of Christ.
From our perspective- It is a continual pursuit of God and His glory in all we do.

Though we must never forget that all the 'work' we do, all the 'effort' we put into seeking after God, He alone gets the glory! Let me ask, am I already making you cringe, is this not what the scriptures teach:
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am..........I worked harder...not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
Paul 'fought', 'ran', 'strived', 'pressed after', etc... but behind all that it was God who was working through him. Though we are unable to penetrate the divide between our effort and God's sovereign working, we still need to emphasize those things which the Lord demands from us all.
In order to properly exegete the scriptures, we have to believe that God is a better physician then us, that He is not in need of our assistance. That means, though we see believers struggling with doubt, depression, and discouragement we have no right to shy away from teaching what the scriptures teach.
The scriptures call believers to 'obedience', to 'fight', to 'put off; things, to 'put on' things, to 'pursue' things, to 'forsake' things, to be 'separate', to be 'faithful', to 'please Him' etc.. These aren't truths we can't ignore because we have seen or experienced legalism.
Let us also keep in mind that believers are also judged according to their works or the 'quality' of it for that matter, and that faithfulness has rewards!
There is a danger in being zealous to defend against false teaching, and that's throw all we can to tip the scales into the other direction. We should rather fight false doctrine with balance, with truth, in other words if the scriptures have been 'twisted' don't cut the cord, untwist it!
If the cord is cut in an effort to eradicate 'legalism' then the effects will diminish if not create animosity toward the promises and warnings of God concerning believers!


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