The harder I try to be holy, the more I find myself discouraged by the struggle to avoid sin. Ever felt that way? Striving for holiness is like reaching for the impossible dream, the always out of reach carrot. We seem to be left empty-handed every time.
We want to be good. We long to be pure. The Bible says that the pure in heart will see God (Matt. 5:8). Our goal is God, isn’t it? We want to see God, don’t we? After all, what’s the purpose of trying to be holy?
Jesus set the standard high when he spoke of holiness. But, what are we really talking about here? Holiness = Sanctification. If “sanctify” means to set apart as holy, then sanctification means the process of being sanctified.
We are not alone in the pursuit of holiness. In the flesh, we’ll never make it because there is no human power on earth that can accomplish so great a task. What is the key? Jesus Christ.
“Sanctification does not mean anything less than the holiness of Jesus being made mine manifestly.” (Oswald Chambers) We’ve all heard the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?”. Christians and non-Christians alike have worn the bracelet. While it’s a good sentiment, it still sets in place an impossible goal if we don’t have the correct form of thinking. Take a look at what our friend, Oswald Chambers, has to say:
“The one marvelous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest themselves in my mortal flesh. Sanctification is Christ in you. It is His wonderful life that is imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God’s grace.
“Sanctification means the impartation of the holy qualities of Jesus Christ. It is His patience, His love, His holiness, His faith, His purity, His godliness that is manifested in and through every sanctified soul.
“Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him, and He manifests it in me.
“Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation. Imitation is on a different line. In Jesus Christ is the perfection of everything, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfections of Jesus are at my disposal, and slowly and surely I begin to live a life of ineffable order and sanity and holiness: Kept by the power of God.”
It would be better to make a bracelet that said, “Do you see Jesus in me?” Who would have the guts to wear it?
Holiness means allowing Christ to be manifest in me. I can live a pure life because my heart is pure, not because I am following a checklist of holy acts. I am doomed to fail if I think that my holy acts can make me pure. Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, must be manifest in me. It takes my full surrender to this process before its work can take effect.
Holiness also means avoiding temptation and separating myself from sinful behavior. “Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (Rom. 6:19)
I know what my weaknesses are, and I must develop the disciplines necessary to keep from falling into harmful traps. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” (I Thess. 4:3-4) And God will give me the strength to do so. “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” (I Thess. 3:13)
It all comes down to, once again, dependence on the One who called us and saved us in the first place. I obey his Word because I love him, and it is by his Word that I am changed through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The pursuit of holiness:
Surrender to God.
Obey his Word.
Avoid temptation and sin.
Stay close to Jesus.
Are you up for the challenge?
Necessity is laid upon us. We must fight. There are no promises in the Lord Jesus Christ’s epistles to the seven churches, except to those who ‘overcome.’ Where there is grace, there will be conflict. The believer is a soldier. There is no holiness without warfare. Saved souls will always be found to have fought a fight. J. C. Ryle
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