Tag Archives: holiness

Before the Throne of God Above: A Hymn For the Sin-Grieved Soul

Sometimes Christians lose sight of the gospel. I’ve been there. You give yourself over to ruthless self examination and slip into works righteousness thinking that loses sight of hope. You’ve seen that your heart is fickle. One second you worship God and the next you curse men who are made in God’s image (James 3:9). You read Proverbs about fools, and nagging wives, those who are quick to anger, stinginess, pride, and laziness, and you see more of yourself painted than you would like to see. Perhaps you read Matthew 5 and 6 and you’re struck by your own harsh words, love of money, lustful thoughts, or nagging anxieties.

If you lose sight of the cross, then you lose sight of God’s love for you. You think only of His holiness and wrath and start believing He does not want to hear from you. Do you need to grovel? Do you need to be punished? Do you need to just “get right” before you can approach God again? How can He be appeased?

Examining yourself, sorrow over sin, focus on holiness, and a desire to change are all very good things. But to think about these things without remembrance of the gospel, God’s power and promises towards you, your thoughts will not only become burdensome, they will become faithless. The soul in that place, dear friends, whether saved or not, is in desperate need of the gospel of grace. Continue reading

Sanctification and the Blood of Christ

I have been thinking a lot about sanctification lately, especially my own. Sanctification is that process by which Christians are made holy- that is, made more like the person of Jesus. There is a bewildering sense in which Christians are already sanctified. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).” “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession (1Peter 2:9).” “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).” We have been made holy by “Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood (Revelation 1:6).” Jesus bore the penalty for our sins and thereby broke the power of our sin. His righteousness was imputed to us when we first believed. It is these two truths that make it possible for God to look at us, reborn sinners who still sin, and to call us Holy and beloved.

This fact of sanctification, along with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the reality of a new nature in us, gives us great assurance of our salvation and our position before God. These realities give joy, peace and hope, and I would not shy away from rejoicing in them. I thank God that He has set me apart and declared me righteous, totally and completely apart from anything I have done. I know that kind of talk can make people nervous, but for the Christian it is truth, and for the Christian- it is truth that produces fruit.

But there is a second reality. It’s the reality that as “God’s people… (who) have received mercy” as “sojourners and exiles”, we must “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against (our) soul (1 Peter 2:11).” Continue reading

Your Standard: The World or Jesus?

I have observed that in our Western Christian culture holiness is not a hot topic.   Then again, neither is sin.  Well some of us might shed our opinion on “big” issues like homosexual marriage, abortion or current scandals in the media, when it comes to matters of personal holiness we have a lot less to say.

In fact the world has made some cliché statements to brand conservative Christians, and unfortunately much of the Christian culture has chosen to adopt the terms also.  When someone upholds a high moral standard, abstaining from sins some consider common, and especially if they exhort others to do the same, they will quickly be labelled as “holier-than-thou,” “self-righteous” or “legalistic.”  It tends not to matter how humbly they express themselves, or how biblical their claims are, if they stand against status-quo Christianity they risk their reputation and in many people’s eyes their credibility.

The implication is that if a Christian chooses to rise above the average standard for holiness in our nation, they must consider themselves somehow better than other Christians.  A Christian who won’t listen to the same music, watch the same movies, or engage in immoral or gossipy conversations, must consider themselves superior and have a condescending view of others.

That being said, is a true pursuit of holiness really worth it?  Well that depends.  Are we trying to please God or are we trying to please man?  You decide.

What is holiness?  Vines dictionary describes holiness as a “separation to God, and the conduct befitting to those so separated.”  Holiness is fitting to a person who claims they are a Christian, while continuing worldliness in a professing Christian displays that they are not truly born of God.

With so many “Christians” getting divorced, becoming alcoholics, attending rated R movies, and acting in sensuality, I have to wonder what was their motive for coming to Christ?  A person needs to come to Christ for something that they do not have: Holiness.  Jerry Bridges said that “No one can trust in Jesus Christ for true salvation unless he trusts in Him for holiness.”  In other words, if you came to Him for something OTHER than holiness as your primary motive, you did not come to Him at all.

Ephesians 1:4 says that the reason he chose us of the world was so that “we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  With so much modern preaching urging men to come to Jesus for a happier life, fewer problems, physical healing, and the mending of a hole in your heart, over and above coming to Jesus to be cleansed of sin, made Holy, and reconciled to God, it is no wonder that much modern day Christianity looks little different from the rest of the world.

Paul Washer accurately said: “I want you to know that, when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more upon a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God… when they (professing Christians) look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart.  They think, ‘Well, I’m the same as most in my youth group.  I watch things I shouldn’t watch on television and laugh about the very things that God hates.  I wear clothing that is sensual.  I talk like the world.  I walk like the world.  I love the music of the world.  I love so much that’s in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian.  Why am I a Christian?  I don’t look any different than most of the other people in my church. Why am I a Christian? Because there was a time in my life when I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.’”

Dear friends, I know it might sound harsh but this is exactly what is going on right here in Chilliwack BC.  We need a revival.  We need God to have mercy on us and open our blind eyes.  Jerry Bridges makes a similar claim in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness.”

“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness.”  They adapt to the character and behaviour pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy.  But God has not called us to be like those around us.  He has called us to be like Himself.  Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.”

We are not meant to measure ourselves by our friends, or even our pastor, but by the character of God Himself revealed to us in the Bible.  Our lack of Holiness is as much a result of poor gospel preaching and a lack of emphasis on sin, as it is a result of our negligence to read and obey the Word of God.  I have seen people more fanatical about worldly philosophies and principals that they have imagined to be exclusively “Christian,” than I have about what the Bible actually says.  People get more excited about miracles, healings, signs and wonders, than they do about Martyrs oversees dying for the Glory of God.  Set apart living?  Prayer meetings?  Worse yet, that divisive and dreaded word doctrine?  Boring.  But a good worship service with bright lights, smoke, and an awesome band- that people have an easier time getting excited about.

But God says: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:2).”  He doesn’t esteem you by your health, your job, your car, your social status, or your role at church.  The one He esteems is the one who trembles at His word.  This verse paints a picture of a person who has realized that God is infinitely wiser and greater than himself, that He is a God to be feared, and a God to be obeyed.  This person believes that living by God’s word truly does matter, so much in fact that as he analyzes his life in light of scripture he begins to tremble.

God doesn’t care what you look like, or how many friends you have on facebook, or how relevant you are to your culture- He wants you to love Him, obey Him, and be Holy as He is Holy.

He doesn’t marvel at a church that overflows to the streets.  He is pleased if the people in it are coming for HIM and not for benefits, and that they are hearing truth and being soundly saved.

He’s after your heart.  This obsession with looks, possessions, media, and worldly things in God’s house needs to end if we want to be pleasing and useful to Him.  2Timothy 2:21 “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

If you really don’t care about growing in Holiness, about making it your aim to please the Lord with your life, then there is ample evidence to suggest that you are not truly saved.  “Strive for…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”  2Timothy 2:19 “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

I do not mean that a Christian must be perfect, nor can he ever become perfect in this life.  But are you concerned about pleasing the Lord?  Do you care about growing in holiness, and becoming more like Jesus Christ?  Do you prefer your worldly entertainment more than time with Him?  Is the world your friend and your home, and do you set your eyes on it as if the glories of Heaven, Christ and His word are a lesser joy?  Have you found yourself mocking and scorning Christians who hold to a higher moral standard than yourself?

2Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

If your actions, thoughts, and desires contradict your Christian profession, then come to Christ.  You need to be born again.  Randy Alcorn writes “A false faith…deserves to be lost… Losing your faith may be God’s gift to you.  Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can you replace it with valid faith in the true God- faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.”

If we truly know Christ than let’s not use those around as our standard for living.  Let’s base our lives on the Word of God, and live it out whether people want to call us self-righteous-fanatic-Bible-thumpers or not.  I’ll end with this incredible poem by CT Studd.

            [headline h=”1″]Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Passed[/headline]

“Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervour burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, ”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Forsake All That Offends Christ: A Biblical Plea To Forsake Sinful Entertainment

Part 1:  My Cause and My Defence

 

Matthew 7:16 “You will recognize them by their fruits.  Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

 

I have had a passion stirred within me this morning to write about a matter that has been grieving me for a long time.  The matter is the movies that professing Christians watch that are corrupted by the bad fruit of blasphemy, adultery, crudeness, homosexuality, prostitution, grotesque violence, or any other imaginable sin.  I am not assuming that there are people know who watch these things; I have heard professing Christians talk openly, and unashamedly about sin that is in the movies they watch.  As I think about it my hands shake and I feel like breaking down in tears.  I say this so that you will know that I am writing from the heart, and that I am truly concerned and grieved in the Holy Spirit.

In writing this I know that two labels will come into the minds of many readers regarding me.  One, that I am a legalist.  Two, that I am self righteous.  Let me address this. Continue reading