Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Be holy as I am holy...

I Peter 1:14-17

14[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].

15But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.

16For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.

17And if you call upon Him as [your] Father Who judges each one impartially according to what he does, [then] you should conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time of your temporary residence [on the earth, whether long or short].

Leviticus 11:44, 19:2 - this is where it is written "You shall be holy, for I am holy." It is in the middle of the law.

Vine's says that the word here is hagios which is not an attainment but a state into which God in grace calls us. We are called to wash ourselves in the Word in order to remain free from defilement, forsake sin, and live according to Christ's example. Hagios means more than pure, sacred, or worthy..."it is characteristically godlikeness." Wow! That explains "Be imitators of Christ" so much more richly. I think this means that I am to live a holy life, one that is in agreement with Christ.

So, the question remains - is holiness a process or an immediately acquired state upon accepting the salvation of Christ? Could it be both? We are made righteous upon receiving the gift of salvation, but are we made holy? I think we frequently confuse holiness with righteousness.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (Amplified Bible)

30But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin].

Consecration (holy) and righteousness are two different things. Righteousness is being brought into right relationship with God. How are we brought into right relationship? Romans 4 seems to say that faith exercised produces righteousness in our lives. Ok, so holiness is being pure and set apart unto God and righteousness is life lived in faith and unity with the heart of God.

So, the question still remains for me...if God consecrates us and gives us His righteousness then do we have to do anything or just receive and live? I don't know that I can say we just accept the gift and then just keep on going expecting to "naturally" do what's in God's heart, especially in light of verses like this one...

Daniel 11:33-35 (Amplified Bible)

33And they who are wise and understanding among the people shall instruct many and make them understand, though some [of them and their followers] shall fall by the sword and flame, by captivity and plunder, for many days.

34Now when they fall, they shall receive a little help. Many shall join themselves to them with flatteries and hypocrisies.

35And some of those who are wise, prudent, and understanding shall be weakened and fall, [thus, then, the insincere among the people will lose courage and become deserters. It will be a test] to refine, to purify, and to make those among [God's people] white, even to the time of the end, because it is yet for the time [God] appointed.

Still speaking of righteousness, let's throw in another wrench...

1 John 3:7-10

7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

Ok, so now what? He who practices righteousness is righteous just as Christ is righteous. So, in walking out our faith daily we are practicing righteousness. Then v. 9 says whoever has been born of God DOES NOT SIN and CANNOT SIN. So, is does this mean we are already holy (pure, undefiled, godlikeness)? We cannot sin if we are in Christ yet we still must practice righteousness and are commanded to be holy.

So, the question remains - are we already holy & righteous or is it a process or is it both?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Diligence - Part 1

I'm on a journey into the heart of God. I've been asking Him some big questions b/c He really convicted me one night at IHOP-FW. He told me that the following verses applied to me:

Revelation 2: 1-7

1TO THE angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars [which are the messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, Who goes about among the seven golden lampstands [which are the seven churches]:

2I know your industry and activities, laborious toil and trouble, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars.

3I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name's sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary.

4But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love].

5Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God's will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.

6Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest.

7He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

I cried b/c I knew it to be true. I asked God how I got to this place. This place of hardness, where I don't feel anything, especially His presence. He showed me in verse 5 - "Remember the heights from which you have fallen." I remember the beautiful times I had with God in the prayer room before I had kids, the 6 am sets, the day long times with Him, the internship, etc. "do the things you did at first" - What did I do at first, Lord? He showed me that I was no longer regularly in His Word, that I no longer fast regularly, that I pray sporadically and selfishly. So, I asked Him for a hunger for His Word. I asked to hear His voice. I asked Him how He wanted me to fast and how He wanted me to pray.

The next day, I opened up my journal to rehearse the places I had been with God and what I had done at first. I looked at where my journaling stopped - Proverbs 31:10 so I decided to start there. Wow! I'll have to post just on that verse another time but the path it led me on is the point here.

Proverbs 31:10 (Amplified Bible)

10A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman--who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.

I glanced through the footnotes on Proverbs 31 and that lead me to 2 Peter 1:5-8.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (Amplified Bible)

5For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),

6And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),

7And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.

8For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

And I realized that some things I had never noticed before. One, in order to "add to"/"develop" a trait I needed to "exercise" the current trait. Talk about "working out your salvation with fear and trembling"! Secondly, I noticed that neither faith nor virtue were the first traits. I had always heard or read those to be the starting point. But they are not the starting point - diligence is. Diligence is where it all begins.