Thursday, 2 August 2012

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Holiness

No one with an ounce of compassion would argue against snatching a wandering toddler from the path of a speeding car or yelling at some unsuspecting soul to warn of unforeseen danger. It would be considered unloving and even inhumane to stand on the sidelines and do or say nothing when someone is clearly in harm's way. We have all heard stories of good Samaritans who run into burning buildings to save a helpless senior citizen or of the self-less individual who without a second thought dives into frigid waters to save a drowning loved one. It is the natural and involuntary human response to throw caution to the wind and help someone in peril, even if it means putting one's own life at risk. Why then are so many Christians today willing to stand on the sidelines and take a nonchalant attitude when they see their brothers and sisters frolicking in the hot tub of sin, when the Bible clearly states that feeding an insatiable appetite for carnality only leads to death? (Romans 6:23, 8:6-8)

Surely an amber alert or an SOS should go out when one of Gods children has been lured into Satan's snare. Certainly the internal Holy Spirit alarm system must trip when a child of the King is enticed by his own fleshly desires and begins to justify giving into these desires by using worn out excuses like, Im only human, God knows my heart, I'm trying my best, or God will forgive me. At some point the internal alarm system installed by the Holy Spirit into the heart of every Believer should ring to warn that the thief has entered the house. But that warning signal seems to be but a faint sound in the distance to many Christians today. We see Christians today living in blatant carnality oblivious to the dreadful consequences of choosing a lifestyle contrary to godliness, when the Word of God tell us not to give the devil a foothold.. (Eph. 4:27)

The Bible is chocked full of instruction on how to live as representatives of Christ. Yet, this same Bible speaks of the freedom we have in Christ. But instead of choosing to live holy, we see Christians not only choosing to flaunt their liberties to the point of out and out sensual debauchery, but also encouraging others to come to the party! (Romans 1:28-32) It is only natural to want to excuse sin by saying, God understands that were only human. But contrary to popular belief, tolerance of sin or turning a blind eye to it does not equate to showing Christ-like love nor does it take into account that we are expected to grow up and put away childish things. While it is true that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God , this often taken-out-of-context verse does not give Christians a license to practice sin (1 John 3:6-10). The Apostle Paul said, Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we who are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6:1,2) The fact is, God loves us and He hates sin and if we truly love Him, we will hate sin too!

The Holy Spirit dwells within us to lead us into all Truth, give us boldness to be the Lords witnesses, give us power to conquer fleshly temptations, and give us discernment to identify what is holy and what is not. But, spiritual discernment is like a muscle. Without regular exercise, atrophy sets in. So, discernment becomes dull and useless, if it is not practiced (Hebrews 5:14). Without discernment we are easily seduced and lulled into a type of twilight zone where there is no distinction between reality and deception, right and wrong, good and evil, truth and heresy, holiness and sin. Sadly, holiness, sanctification, consecration, godliness, modesty, temperance, and righteousness are terms that have been relegated to certain old school Christian denominations whose views are considered too legalistic, obsolete, and irrelevant for today's sophisticated Church. Therefore, these very foundational Biblical concepts and principles are no longer commonly preached from pulpits on Sunday mornings. Convicting messages that lead to true repentance and holiness have been replaced by more popular and palatable themes of love, peace, tolerance, prosperity, and self-gratification that massage the flesh and desensitize spiritual discernment. To make matters worse, many pastors are preoccupied with filling the pews, running Church as a business, and treating the Body of Christ like a social club where tithes and offerings determine ones status and level of spirituality and acceptance, instead of preaching the Gospel without compromise. Consequently, the Body of Christ has become carnal, undiscerning, and powerless.

It is ludicrous to expect the unregenerate world to do the mission that Jesus assigned to His Church. Voting to pass laws that reflect Christian values only creates a false illusion that spiritual transformation takes place from the outside in. It does not! Holiness and morality cannot be legislated, nor does God expect His people to change the laws of the land to conform to His righteous nature. Change will not come through a particular political party or candidate, but through God's people who live holy lives! It is the responsibility of God's people to make the plumbline straight! We are the change agents on earth! It is only when we walk in the light as He is in the light and are holy even as He is holy that change will come. (2 Chronicles 7:14).

No caring person would think twice about running to catch someone who is falling or yelling to warn someone of eminent danger. But, how far will we go to be our brothers keeper and encourage him to walk in the Spirit and avoid falling into the deep dark pit of sin? The Word says, Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude 1:18-22) it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:11-14) It is certain that judgment will begin at the House of God and if judgment begins with us, where will those who have no regard for holiness stand? (1 Peter 4:17)

Enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season is nothing to be compared to the joy, inner peace, and abundant life promised to those who hear and obey God's Word. Receive it! Believe it! Pursue holiness and live!