Pursue Holiness

What is true holiness?

In Hebrews 12:14, we are told to pursue holiness.  How does one pursue that lifestyle?  Of what does holiness truly consist?  Although much of the Christian teaching we hear would have us to believe that holiness is what we say, what we do, and how we behave, holiness is so much more!

Where is my righteousness?

During my experience as a Bible teacher, I have heard people make the following statement: “I would love to give my life to Jesus Christ, but there is no way I could live it.”  My reply is always this: “You are right.  You can’t.”  I have received some priceless facial expressions with this reply, but the fact is, I am right.  In myself, I am completely unable to live the Christian life as the Bible commands, and so are you.No Confidence in the Flesh

What is a person to do?  Should you just give up and sin recklessly because you are unable to live the life the Bible instructs you to live?  No, not at all.  It is at this point that you should look and see the source of your righteousness—Jesus Christ!

Christ in me!

Galatians 2:20 (MEV) contains an important truth about pursuing holiness.  It states the following: “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  What happens when I come to Christ?  My sinful nature dies, and I come alive to a new nature—Christ in me.  He is the one who makes me righteous.  It is impossible for me to make myself righteous, and that is why many Christians are in such religious bondage–from pursuing righteousness by their own merits.

No Confidence in the Flesh 2If you are in Christ, you will walk free from sin, but it will not be of your own goodness.  It will be Christ in you (see Romans 6).  If you or I were capable of living without sin on our own, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to leave heaven and come to Earth to live and die, then, live again.  We were hopelessly enslaved to the power of sin, but God gave us Jesus.  He is our righteousness.  He is holiness.

Pursue Christ!

Since Jesus Christ is my righteous, my holiness, then to pursue holiness as Hebrews 12:14 says is to pursue Christ!  Go after Him!  You will not have to go far.  He is waiting on you to draw near.  Because of the cross, you can approach Him with confidence.  He is in you if you have accepted Him as Savior.  If you haven’t accepted Him, there is no time like the present.

What good is it to try to pursue self-righteousness?  No good!  Self-righteousness is a pathetic attempt to glorify you.  The righteousness of Christ glorifies God, the Father.

If you pursue Christ, you let go of yourself and allow Him to live through you.  As a result, your life will display the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The life you live will be a result of Christ in you, and nothing of your nature! Amazing Grace is More than Enough for me!

 

Pursue Christ Himself!  Seek Him.  Love Him.  He will change you, completely transform you.  You will never be the same.  You will lose your self-righteous attitude because you will clearly see that your righteousness in Jesus Christ!

 

No Confidence in the Flesh

Once we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it seems that we should realize we have no righteousness in ourselves.  Deep down, we know, but our human nature tends to push the correct knowledge somewhere in the mind where we are not confronted with the facts.  Although we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we begin to think that we are responsible for our own righteousness, conveniently overlooking the fact that we are saved by grace through faith.

Paul’s Confidence

No Confidence in the FleshIn Philippians 3, Paul discusses the subject in great detail.  In verse 3, Paul states that he puts no confidence in the flesh as many Jews of his day did.  Insisting that new converts to Christ follow the Jewish law was a popular trend in Paul’s day.  Although popular among some Jewish people, it was controversial, and it was not biblical.

Paul, formerly known as Saul, was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He followed the law to the letter.  He crossed all his t’s and dotted all his i’s, so to speak, before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Although he had great credentials, Paul acknowledged that his greatness was nothing compared to the greatness of Christ.

Our Confidence

Romans 3:23 clearly states that all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Why is it that when we begin to gain victory over sin in our lives, which, by the way, only comes through Jesus, that we begin to get pride, a sin within itself?  Any accomplishments we make spiritually are only because of the grace of God poured out on us.  The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts and helps us.

My confidence cannot be in my good works.  No matter how many good deeds I do, they will neither make atonement for my sin nor allow me entrance into heaven.  If that were the case, Jesus would not have come to be the sacrificial lamb for our sins.  The good I do should be a result of my love for Jesus, not a pathetic self-righteousness.

Confidence in Christ

I clearly believe that we can be confident in who we are in Christ, but we also must have a realization of who we are without Christ.  This will keep the balance.  We will have godly confidence without self-righteousness.  We can be confident of who we are in Christ, who we are because of his death and resurrection.  Our confidence should not be in our works which represent a false ability to save ourselves.No Confidence in the Flesh 2

Just as the religious leaders of Paul’s day thought that being circumcised along with following the letter of the law made them righteous, we often think that we are righteous because we do good deeds.   No, our confidence is not in our flesh, but in who Jesus is through us.  We should not be doing good works to be righteous.  We will do good works as a result of the change that has been made inside of us because of Jesus Christ.  Anything else is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

 

What about you?  Where is your confidence?  Place your confidence in Christ, rather than yourself.  The righteousness of Christ is one that does not fail.

Mercy Seat

I don’t know about you, but I need God’s mercy every day.  For the past week, I have been reading in the book of Hebrews.  Throughout several chapters, the Old Testament priesthood is compared with the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  I will share with you some portions of what I read.

Behind the Veil

In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was located inside the most holy place of the temple behind a veil, or curtain.  No one could enter certain places of the temple except for the priests.  The priests, who were from the tribe of Levi, made sacrifices and atonement for the peoples’ sins.

Mercy Seat 1
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The mercy seat was surrounded by cherubim.  In Hebrews 9:5, the writer speaks of the glory overshadowing the mercy seat.  The writer goes on to say that he could not speak in detail of the things concerning the mercy seat and the holy place.  I find that statement compelling.  Of course, he was most likely referring to the magnificence of the tabernacle, yet, we can take his words to heart because it is often difficult to express the details of our gratitude to Jesus for what He accomplished at the cross.

The Veil Torn

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil to the most holy place was torn, not by human hands, but by the power of God.  Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice, the complete atonement for our sins.  The veil was torn because we were no longer restricted from an intimate relationship with God, the Father.  People no longer had to go to a human priest to be absolved of sin.  After the cross, people could go directly to the Father through Jesus Christ.

Mercy Seat 2
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Unfortunately, it seems a veil is still up for some people.  It is not because God does not love them.  It is because they have not accepted Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as the atoning sacrifice for their sins and the only way to God, the Father.  Once you accept Jesus for who He is and follow Him wholeheartedly, you have direct access to the mercy seat.

Receive His Mercy

God’s mercy is available to everyone, but it requires a personal choice.  He forces nothing on you.  Each person must choose Jesus.  Each person must come running to the mercy seat, so to speak.

I know and love Jesus, but I still must come running to the mercy seat.  I need His mercy daily.  No, I do not intentionally sin, but I will fall short of His glory.  You will too.  That’s where mercy comes in.  Am I suggesting that you can be careless and reckless in your sin without consequence?  Certainly not!  However, I am suggesting that when you do surrender to Jesus, you will be changed forever, not perfect, but changed.  Then, you will be humbled by His wonderful mercy, and you will not take it for granted.

What about you?  Have you accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ?  If not, you can do that now.

His Grace Is Sufficient

Most Christians are familiar with the scripture that says God’s grace is sufficient for His people.  We have either quoted the scripture that is accompanied by the Apostle Paul speaking of Christ being strong in Paul’s weakness, or, we have heard other people teach on the subject.  All of this is well and good, but far too often, we become so familiar with a scripture that we overlook a fresh glimpse we could get from it.

Strength in Weakness

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul received the reply about God’s sufficient grace after asking God to remove his thorn in the flesh.  As a matter of fact, Paul approached God concerning this issue three times.  How many times have you asked God to remove your “thorn” or that which causes you pain, discomfort, grief, or irritation?Amazing Grace is More than Enough for me!

God’s answer was not what most of us would expect.  He told Paul that, not only was His grace all that was needed, but He also told Paul that His power was made perfect in weakness.  Despite the sting to his flesh, Paul chose to rejoice in his problems because he knew the power of Christ was resting on him.  What if God is telling you that His grace is all you need?  Does that bring a twinge of disappointment?  Although I completely understand feeling less than thrilled, I must tell you that God is right.  His grace is sufficient—it is all we need.

Grace gives us the power we need to overcome sin.  Grace brings us through the impossible.  The grace of God is what will bring us face to face with our God when this life is over.  When we finally discover the power of grace, we should rejoice when God reminds us that His grace is sufficient.

Can You Take Pleasure in Weakness?

I admit it sounds a bit strange to say that you can take pleasure in weakness, but that is exactly what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10.  Because grace is just what he needs, Paul can rejoice.  Not because he is weak, but because God is able to bring glory from Paul’s weaknesses.  That is why you should rejoice.  God can bring a message to others through your struggles.  He will give you all you need to get through the challenges and impossible situations you face.

Weakness Made PerfectOf course, that does not mean we are horrible human beings when we feel disappointed or grieved.  Those are natural human feelings.  What it does mean is that, although we might be grieved, we can place our hope and trust in God.  Joy and peace come soon after.

What Was Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh?

Although many have speculated over the source of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, we truly do not know.  Some have suggested that Paul was blind.  Others have suggested that he had epilepsy. Perhaps his thorn was not so much a physical issue as it was an emotional issue.  It could be any of the issues mentioned, yet, it could be none.  No matter the issue, God had what Paul needed.

Whatever your thorn is, God has what you need.  There is no sickness nor any other affliction greater than the God we serve.  He is able to bring you out on the other side as a victor!  Although it is not easy, cooperating with Him in the process is vital.

 

What about you?  What is afflicting or grieving you?  God has what you need.  He has an all-sufficient grace that never fails.

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