IS THE KIND OF HOLINESS REQUIRED OF CHRISTIANS ACHIEVABLE IN THIS WORLD?
- Wise leaders should have known that the human heart cannot exist in a vacuum. If Christians are forbidden to enjoy the wine of the Spirit they will turn to the wine of the flesh. Christ died for our hearts and the Holy Spirit wants to come and satisfy them (A.W. Tozer).
- Nowhere can we get to know the holiness of God, and come under His influence and power, except in the inner chamber. It has been well said: “No man can expect to make progress in holiness who is not often and long alone with God.” (Andrew Murray)
- Holiness has never been the driving force of the majority. It is, however, mandatory for anyone who wants to enter the kingdom (Elisabeth Elliot)
- We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we have a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (J. C. Ryle).
- In proportion as a church is holy, in that proportion will its testimony for Christ be powerful (Charles Spurgeon).
- We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about- turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive ( C. S. Lewis)
TEXT: 1 Peter 1: 13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
Holiness is a basic requirement for those inheriting the kingdom of God. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14). Holiness is the purity of heart. In my language it is ‘ukembu’, a term used to describe the crystal-clear water flowing from the slopes of the Mountain. You see through the water because it is clean, colourless, with no impurity. God made it clear to the children of Israel that holiness was not an option. “The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy . . . . ‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” (Leviticus 19:1-2; 20: 7-8). That message is repeated in Leviticus 20:26, 21:8; Exodus 19:6 to show its significance. One can deduce that holiness is not natural. While one is determined to discover and live in obedience to the will of God, some barriers seem to barricade and block the good intentions. There is struggle with particular behaviors and attitudes that tend to contaminate a believer causing him/her to stumble despite real commitment to live in obedience to God’s plan and will. Might emotional hurts that have not been addressed leave the soul wounded and predisposed to anger and sin?
Holiness is wholesomeness which includes one's values, beliefs and character. It is not just what a person does, or his position. Holiness begins on the inside and is not locational or situational. That is the Christian life as revealed by Jesus Christ is lived inside out. Unfortunately, some of the soul wounds are inflicted so early in life that the pain is considered as part of one’s personality. Why we must make every effort to be holy is because the mind that has been infected and not healed tends to have an inner turmoil that ultimately manifests in undesired behavior that drags a person upon a path of continued defeat.
WHY IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO JUST HAPPEN TO BE HOLY
We live in a fallen world – It is not possible to go through this life unscathed. In this world there are challenges that come from the world, the flesh and the devil. Even well-meaning parents may wound their child by not allowing him/her to eat ice cream as he desires. A teacher who unintentionally asks you a question when you are unprepared and then makes stinging comments which starts the pain that brews over the years to become soul toxin. The hurt can remain hidden in the heart until your spouse or workmate makes a comment that triggers that feeling. Failing to achieve the grade that you expected and you feel you have let yourself and your parents down can also cause the wound. While many of these dysfunctions occur in early life and teenage years, the toxicity of these negative situations can seep into your soul and cause a person to live with a wounded spirit at any age. You are born again, loving the Lord, until another person enacts aspects that trigger the unresolved and unhealed aspects of life.
Memory – Ruminating over the past can bring hurts back to memory. Some of those memories persist and get stronger. ‘Why did my mother keep forgetting my name, might she have loved my other siblings more than me’? When such thoughts become unrelenting they form the root of bitterness. When justification of anger is nursed, then hostility instead of holiness becomes tolerable. After all I am just a victim
Self- protection– Human beings tend to be selfish. The need for self -protection may make a person hold on to a grievance rather than forgive. To let go may make a person feel like they are allowing themselves to be taken advantage of and so they hold on to hurts. It is not possible to have an open clean heart while being suspicious of the actions of others. Managing and protecting self leaves a person stuck, diminishing the power of the Holy Spirit.
Self- defense – Sarcasm masked in humor is one form that reveals the secret of soul wounds. The aim of the subtle and apparently socially acceptable humor is to tear the self- esteem of others and pull them down. Instead of encouraging one another, it is discouraging, competing, comparing, fault finding and causing fear. Toxic relationships in family, in fellowships, in work places block opportunities of being a witness of Jesus Christ.
Indifference –A Christian whose character in the day/public is different from that in the night or when with those one does not intend to impress, can lead to sin. One may show up and be active in the fellowship, choir, bible study, preaching, but their heart and soul is no longer holding on to the faith. Knowing the scriptures are in one compartment, prayers are said but one does not expect any change. That ‘living dead’ attitude is contagious and so spreads to others, weakening the work of God.
HOW TO WORK TOWARD HOLINESS
One must be intentional in seeking holiness – Whatever makes one feel vulnerable and sensitive should not be ignored. The discomfort is a pointer that there are wounds that need to be examined and treated. The power struggle with another that makes one feel threatened should be noted carefully. It is the examination of the root cause that opens the door for healing.
Avoid superficiality – Quick apologies and avoidance of what may seem to cause trouble may be a form of running away. It is not possible to seek God while running away from self. It is not possible to receive or give unconditional love when there are unsorted issues within. You have to start taking note of what it is that is causing you to have a tactical relationship with others. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you identify unhealthy routines and patterns. Healing takes place when God’s healing power is allowed in
With the Holy Spirit's help you identify unhealthy routines and patterns– When you recognize a soul wound in your life, begin the journey to healing. I share this message because I recognized those unhealthy patterns in my life a number of years ago and embarked on this process. It is when God leads a person to a place of peace and inner healing. Like the Psalmist recognizes “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake” (Psalm. 23:1–3). That is the path to holiness where God’s healing power begins to flow in every aspect of one’s life. It is the knowledge that one is accepted by our Father, who judges impartially, as he/she is that give that sense of belonging.
Learning to rest on Jesus is a process – To be holy requires discovery of a whole new way of thinking. Instead of allowing the mind to rest on the wounds and pains, rest in what God has done through Christ. “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3). It staying or remaining or residing in the Lord. Instead of reacting to triggers that connect you to fears, you choose to have your mind dwelling in the Lord (Psalm 91:1). That is what will give one courage to trust the Lord instead of reacting. Is that not it means to be a witness of Christ?
The kind of holiness required for Christians is possible if one is willing to obey the word of God. It begins by determining to be conscious of our love for our neighbor. This is because through relationships the trigger to hidden wounds causes a reaction that reveals the hurts and pains. We know that it is not possible to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, body and strength without loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. It is when tracing the root cause of behavior that genuine forgiveness should take place. It is then that the power of the Holy Spirit and the word are allowed to replace the beliefs that hold the grudges. It is not just feeding on the word, but allowing the Holy Spirit to dig and point out the inner trenches that require healing. Prayerful repentance and forgiveness and confession of sin are what remove the toxins from the mind. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23). Why it is critical to seek holiness by conforming to God’s will is that it becomes the power within. So one intuitively knows what is right and what is wrong before God. James Faust says that holiness speaks when there is silence, encouraging that which is good or reproving that which is wrong. That posture is what makes others ask the reason for that behavior. That is what gives freedom that enables others to grow in faith. Just as the wounded soul is revealed through relationships, so is the healed soul. Like a tree planted by the waterside, peace, love and joy outflow. From the above discussion it clear that it is not easy to be holy, it is when you fully surrender to the Lord that He lives his holiness through you to his honor and glory. Do you understand what it means that without holiness, it will not be possible to see God?
“Holiness is the strength of the soul. It comes by faith and through obedience to God's laws and ordinances. God then purifies the heart by faith, and the heart becomes purged from that which is profane and unworthy” (James E. Faust).