In the article, ‘The Difference Between Righteousness and Holiness‘, we took a look at holiness and what it means. I now want to develop this further, and look more deeply at the pursuit of holiness. If you have not already read the previous article, I encourage you to do so before you continue, as it will serve as an introduction to this post.
God is on the lookout for those who will pursue holiness.
To some, the idea of pursuing holiness in order to live a holy life, may seem to be something that would be very boring. But actually nothing could be further from the truth. It is in the pursuit of holiness that you will find all of what you could call, ‘God’s good stuff’. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him“. Don’t let that word ‘perfect’ put you off though, it just means those who are hungry for Him. In other words, God is on the lookout for those who will pursue holiness. The truth that it’s God’s will for us to pursue holiness, is left in no doubt by Ephesians 1:4 in the Amplified Bible, “[In His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love“.
Paul is not giving some ‘doom and gloom’ speech about a totally hopeless situation.
If we want to live a holy lifestyle, one of the main things that this means on a practical level is that we need to deal with any recurring sin that is in our lives. There will be those that will argue that whilst we live on the earth, we will be subject to the sinful desires of the flesh. To back this up they will quote what Paul said in Romans 7:17-24. Let’s read it from The Message translation:
“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?“
Contrary to what many Christians claim about this passage, Paul is not giving some ‘doom and gloom’ speech about a totally hopeless situation. If you keep reading rather than just saying, “I know exactly what Paul means – we can’t help sinning“, you will find that Paul gives the answer to his dilemma in the very next verse and verses 1-2 of chapter 8:
“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.“
Nothing is going to get dealt with, if you do not put some effort in.
So the good news is that God is not expecting you to deal with any recurring sin problems all by yourself. However, nothing is going to get dealt with if you do not put some effort in. Look at what Paul said in Romans 6:11-14, 19:
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace…….now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.“
An effective way of doing this, is to recognise what areas need to be dealt with and then find Bible verses that relate to those areas. Once you have done this, come before God. For example 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s“. You could use these verses to deal with any areas of your life in which you are not glorifying God in your body. Such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, pornography, overeating etc. With overeating, it may be that God will tell you that you need to remove certain foods from your diet. Just seek for, and follow, His advice.
Trust God to back up your words.
Now, let me give you a simple, step-by-step process to follow to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. You can adapt this as appropriate:
- Examine yourself and ask God to help you recognise any areas that need to be dealt with.
- Take the time to find Bible verses that relate to these areas.
- Confess the verses you have found. For example: “My body is the temple of the Holy Ghost that is in me. I am not my own, I was bought with a price. Therefore I will not defile my body by smoking“.
- It will be helpful if you have a physical representation of the area that you are dealing with (if possible). For example, a pack of cigarettes.
- Put the item in front of you and push it away saying, “In the name of Jesus, from this moment on I have no need of you ever again. The power that you had over me is broken once and for all“. (If you do not have an item, just say the words.)
You have done your part, now trust God to back up your words that were spoken in faith and consider the matter dealt with. I will end today by quoting Colossians 3:1-10 from the Contemporary English Version, which deals with how to pursue holiness and gives examples of the things that need to be removed from our lives as part of this pursuit:
“You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God’s right side. Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth. You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God. Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory. Don’t be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. Don’t be immoral or indecent or have evil thoughts. Don’t be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols. God is angry with people who disobey him by doing these things. And that is exactly what you did, when you lived among people who behaved in this way. But now you must stop doing such things. You must quit being angry, hateful, and evil. You must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others. And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits. Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better.“
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to click on the link below. Clicking on the link will not secure your salvation, but praying the prayer you find, from your heart, will.
For the salvation prayer, please click here.