Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holier than thou?

"I inwardly grimaced when the worship leader led us all to sing:

Holiness, holiness is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness, holiness is what
You want for me, for me.

What's my problem with that chorus? It's because it asks for something we already have! We don't need holiness. We have it right now! The reason so many people squeeze their eyes closed and sing like they're begging God for holiness is because they think they aren't holy based on how they've acted, felt and thought lately. But it's not about that at all.

If you think holiness has to do with moral perfection, I encourage you to take a look at the New Testament Church in Corinth. To say that these people misbehaved is an understatement. Inside that church there existed divisions, drunkenness, jealousy, immorality and many others sinful behaviors.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthian Christians a letter and here is how he began it: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling …” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Paul said the Corinthians were “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” He knew about their behavior and even addressed it later in his letter, but Paul knew something that many believers today don’t understand. Our behavior does not determine who we are! These Corinthians were saints, regardless of their behavior. They were saints, even if they were “saints behaving badly.” Their holiness didn’t have a thing to do with what they did or didn’t do.

Paul reminded them a little later, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). He says that it was God’s doing that they were in Christ, and that Christ is their sanctification, or holiness. Again we see that the Corinthians were already holy in God’s sight.

Paul made very clear how we have become holy. God did it through Christ. As the writer of Hebrews put it: “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

It is by Christ’s work that we have been made holy. What about places in the Bible where the Scripture seems to teach that we are to seek holiness? Consider, for example, Hebrews 12:14: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” What does the verse mean when it tells us to “pursue” sanctification (holiness)? The answer has to do with what we mean by pursuing it.

If you define “pursuing sanctification” as getting better and better at keeping rules, you will find yourself right back in legalism, but we have already seen that rules-keeping is not the meaning of holiness.

To pursue it means that we act diligently to agree with God concerning what He has said about us and we act like it’s true – because it is true! You have Jesus Christ and He is your holiness. So we are pursuing sanctification or holiness when we are living out of the reality of His indwelling life. We grow in the expression of holiness in our thoughts and attitudes and even in our actions, but we don’t become more and more holy. You are holy. That is what you are! "

Steve McVey

1 comment:

The Righteousness of God said...

Awesome! This is perfect, beautiful and true to the utmost extreme! Last year, as I was meditating on Hebrews 12: 14, the Holy Spirit showed me 3 things. 1st, the first part of Hebrews 12: 14 says 'follow peace with all...' so the following peace is towards man, not God, so it is 2ndly, the holiness, that is, I follow peace & holiness with all man...not holiness towards God because as you stated our holiness/sanctification is what God has done apart from what we do,like the Corinthian church was doing. 3rdly, the word 'see' means 'to see manifestly the Lord working, to comprehend the Lord working.' Where do we 'see' God working? Towards the relationships we have with man towards whom we follow peace & holiness/sanctification towards & with! Right now, I have a neighbor that is bi-polar and very hateful, calling me & my wife satan (he isnt worthy to have it capitalized haha) and we are demonstrating the ministry of reconciliation of God by following peace & holiness/sanctification towards here by appropriating Lk.6:29-38, where we forgive because we are forgiven, we are not juding her because God is not judging us and we are not condemning her because God is not condemning us, Lk.6: 29-38 is how God IS to us, not what we must do to others to GET GOD TO DO these things to us! Good word Steve, thanks Craig for this post!