Tag Archives: holiness

DEATH OR LIFE?

DEATH OR LIFE?

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19.

Have you noticed the progression in what Paul was saying about our slavery either to sin or to obedience? Slavery to sin sets us on a downward path to unrighteousness which is nothing but purely selfish living, gratifying every whim and fancy of our fleshly nature, dehumanising us until we are fit for nothing else but the trash heap.

Slavery to obedience puts us on another path; this one leads to righteousness, imitating our Master who loved, cared for and served others. Righteousness leads to holiness, to being set apart from sin. The more we care about what God wants above what we want, and the more we obey Him instead of following our own appetites, the more we hate the sin that once enslaved us and enslaves the people who refuse to follow Jesus. We see what it does to them and we pull away from doing what they do.

Obedience to Jesus as our Lord puts us back on the path to becoming human again, and we become more alive to God and less alive to sin and to what the people in the world do. We have the assurance that God will complete the job of perfecting us in holiness and giving us the gift of everlasting life.

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at the time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you receive leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:20-23.

When we serve sin, we earn wages – like an employee working for an employer. If we have never received the new life Jesus offers us by accepting His forgiveness and turning our lives over to Him, we have to serve sin because sin is our master and because we are bound to it as slaves. We earn the wages that sin pays, death, and there is nothing we can do about it.

But eternal life isn’t like that. It is God’s free gift to us. We cannot work for it; we can do nothing to earn it; no amount of effort can produce it. God freely gives it to us when we respond to His invitation to receive it by receiving His Son and becoming God’s son or daughter.  Once we have received His gift, it us up to us to respond in faith and obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in our spirit and who leads and prompts us to follow Jesus.

Only those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). When we give ourselves to Him to obey Him, we set off on the pathway to becoming fully human again , in other words, towards becoming the people God created in the beginning to be in perfect harmony with Him. God’s intention is to remove all sin so that we can once again be sinless and perfect.

Watch the progression. As we choose to obey God and to become slaves to righteousness, we progress towards holiness – separated from sin to God – and holiness will eventually lead us to eternal life. Sin leads to death. Obedience leads to life. The gift of eternal life is already ours but we must possess it by following the path to eternal life.

And so our participation in eternal life is a co-operative venture. It is impossible for us to possess it by our own efforts but, at the same time, we cannot just sit back and float towards our future. It is through trust in God and obedience to the promptings of His Spirit that we progress towards holiness and take hold of eternal life.

It begins by recognising that we died with Christ, were raised to new life with Him and are now in Him by His Spirit. It continues by participating with His Spirit by counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, progressing towards the possession of eternal life by choosing to do what is right, shunning sin and being perfected as true human beings once again, perfectly united to God once more when Jesus returns.

Which path are you one?

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

MOLLY AND ME – DISCIPLINE

At fourteen months, I guess it’s normal for Molly to have a little trouble with discipline. Like all human children, she also has a mind of her own.

The problem, though, is that she doesn’t know what is good for her. If she had her way, she’d chew every old bone, or bit of discarded food she finds on the pavement when we take our daily walk or, worse still, she’d sample every bit of rubbish that smells “good” to her, no matter whether it is harmful or not.

Fortunately for her (and for my peace of mind, I might add), our home is inside a walled garden from which there is no escape. She is never allowed outside the property except when she is securely under my control with harness and leash.

She sometimes obeys my commands like, “Sit,” when there is a treat being offered or, “Take your bone to your bed,” when I am on my way out and she gets a bone to chew while I am away. However, like a young child, she still falls short on obedience most of the time.

Why is it so important for her to learn to obey? An unruly puppy, like an unruly child, is a danger to herself. If I allowed her to do as she pleases, she would not last long in this world. For example, small as she is, it is her ambition to take on every dog in the neighbourhood, big or small, Fortunately for her, apart from my control, they are either behind a high wall and a strong gate or held securely on a leash by their owners.

Humans, from birth, have an inbred capacity to destroy ourselves. It all began with Adam. Lured by the promise of being “like God”, regardless of what God had instructed him, he fell for the lie that doing his own thing was good for him… and our world as it is today, is the result.

Believe it or not, God knows far better than we do what is good for us. Since He is our Creator and He loves us with a passion we will never understand, the whole world of us, good or bad, He has set the boundaries within which we can live in peace, safety and happiness. However, like self-willed puppies and toddlers, we test those boundaries because we neither love Him more than ourselves nor trust His love for us.

Discipline… obedience… trust… these are closely linked together. The writer to the Hebrews encourages his readers to trust the Father enough to submit to His discipline because, not only does He want to save us from ourselves but in doing so, He is slowly transforming us from wayward and unruly brats into sons and daughters who resemble Him and are fit to live in His presence

eternally.

…Have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His 

children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children.Whoever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

… Since we respected our earthly father who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. (Hebrews 12:5-7; 9-10) 

In all animal society, there are boundaries that each generation must learn in order to survive in the wild. Molly is only a dog. She knows nothing of God and His love for her but, like all creatures, she must submit to my discipline if she is to live with me in peace.

I you and I are members of God’s family, we are serving our apprenticeship on earth for an eternal home with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. How important it is for us to submit to the hardships that are part of daily life and trust the Father to work in all things for our good so that He can prepare us to live with Him forever.

 

Continue reading MOLLY AND ME – DISCIPLINE

Relax – Respond – Rest

RELAX – RESPOND – REST

Many books have been written on the subject of holiness. Some are helpful; others, like the one I read recently, have angered and frustrated me because, instead of sticking to God’s Word, the authors have created their own version of holiness and what God requires of us to meet His standard.

I found that the book I read, although promising an exciting insight into the truth, is a yet another misleading, self-help volume that adds to the hard labour of an already over-burdened Christian reading public. Like the rabbis of old, a well-meaning but misinformed writer has garnished the simple truth of God’s Word with additions and prescriptions which have obscured what God intends to be a liberating and joyful experience.

In response, I decided to write my own book! Which I did! Which is on the threshold of release. Which is called The Heartbeat of Holiness.

I have made three simple observations and drawn two conclusions. It is impossible for me to rewrite the book for a blog but, over the next few days I plan to give you a summary – and perhaps whet your appetite to read the book.

Point number 1 – Relax!

Have you noticed that God always does for us what He demands of us? Now isn’t that amazing?

Throughout the Bible, we see the same principle at work. He demands that we deal with our sin which requires death as payment for our debt. We can’t; because each sinner must pay his own debt, which is eternal death, so He sent His Son, Jesus to live among us as one of us, sinless and without any debt of His own. He died in our place so that God’s wrath against sin could be satisfied and the sinner be reconciled to the Father.

The same principle applies when we come to the subject of holiness. God is holy; He demands that we be holy. Without holiness we cannot “see” Him. What is holiness? God is totally separated from sin and separated to Himself. He cannot have anything to do with sin. He is always consistent with His own nature. We know that God is just, righteous, merciful and good because all His actions reveal who He is.

Since He created us in His image to have fellowship with Him and to be one with Him, it follows that we are also to have nothing to do with sin and to be separated to Him. Like our toothbrush which we share with no one else, God created us to belong exclusively to Him. We are His because He made us and because He bought us back from slavery to sin and Satan.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Trying to be holy by ourselves is as futile as trying to save ourselves from our sin. Why would God demand of us what He knows we cannot achieve? No amount of self-effort, including self-awareness and self-scrutiny, endless confession of sin, repeated prayers to become holy, breaking so-called “generational curses” and…and…and…can achieve what God demands. We might as well give up before we start.

If we can’t make ourselves holy, no matter how hard we try, what is the answer? How will we ever achieve God’s standard to make it in the end? Will we fail to see God because we fell short in spite of being saved from sin by God’s grace? How will we know if we have satisfied God’s demand?

I have good news for you. Relax! God does not only demand that we be holy – He promised to make us holy. This immediately takes the pressure off us. Of course, it is impossible for us to be holy through our own effort but He has a simple plan to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Watch this space. Tomorrow we shall explore His plan and discover that holiness as God requires, is completely within our reach because He does the work from beginning to end.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com

Watch this space!

My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available.

The Purpose Of Discipline

THE PURPOSE OF DISCIPLINE

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness (Heb. 12: 7-10).

Ignoring God’s directions for life leads to all kinds of problems. He gave us instructions and prohibitions for a very good reason. He knows that life becomes a mess when we ignore the “no entry” signs along the path. One of the huge “no entry” signs is the one about the way we handle our sex drives. This one says “sex outside of marriage is dangerous” but, of course, because we humans think we know better than God, we ignored that one and set up our own rules – which in effect are no rules. Anything goes!

The result is a world of fatherless people, either because the biological father is absent and plays no part in the child’s life or because the father has opted out of his responsibility to father his children. Divorce has ripped families apart, leaving mothers to raise their children while fathers are out hunting for another mate, or at best, absentee fathers who see their children periodically and play no part in their upbringing.

Fatherless children grow up hurt and angry because they have no identity, and insecure because they have no one to affirm them and no one to set the boundaries within which they feel safe and free. There is no strong authority figure to bring order and discipline into their lives without which their sin nature plays havoc and leads to broken and destroyed people. Our prisons are full of criminals who grew up without the loving and guiding hand of a father.

It isn’t any wonder that so many of God’s children don’t understand what He is doing when hardships come. Discipline was not part of the equation. Punishment, yes, because many of the fathers were harsh and unpredictable, disciplining according to their moods and whims without purpose.

This writer perhaps experienced a father who loved him and disciplined him as a way of guiding his life towards a productive future. If so, it was easy for him to understand the purpose of hardship and suffering. God is the perfect Father. This writer knew that His people needed to be corralled in order to stay on the path. Without discipline, we lose our way amid the many temptations that appeal to our flesh and pull us away from God’s path through life.

How does God discipline us? He allows us to experience situations that bring the flaws in us to the surface. We bump up against people who irritate us, make us angry, or jealous, or who cause us offence in some way. We blame the other person when, in actual fact, our reaction comes from within us. Unless we own our own fault instead of blaming him or her, the exercise is wasted and God will have to keep up the heat until we learn the lesson.

He also allows us to get into sticky situations that require us to trust Him in the dark. Instead of trusting, however, we often try to fix things ourselves in a worldly way when He has said, “The battle is not yours but God’s. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” We pray desperately to get out of our problems instead of being still and trusting God in it. Our faith in Him cannot become stronger if the sun shines all the time. We need the storms to teach us how to hold on to Him in trouble.

“God uses hardships to discipline us,” said the writer. He has a goal in mind. He is building a family of sons and daughters who have progressed beyond the infancy, toddler and teenage stages. Each phase has it characteristics of immaturity. He has given us the model of His Son who lived as a perfect son instead of a spoilt brat or a stubborn rebel. His family destined for unity with the Father, sharing His holiness – His separation from and abhorrence for sin.

When we submit to His discipline instead of bucking and whining, something happens inside. A calm descends and a trust grows that God is, after all, in charge, good and moving us towards a desired end. If some earthly fathers did a good job, and they are fallible after all, submitting to and trusting in our heavenly Father will eventually bring us to maturity in this life and perfection in the next.

Is that a path worth following?

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com or www.kalahari.com in paperback, e-book or kindle format, or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my blogsite at www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com