Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Holiness is Part Of The Gospel

From an observational point of view, compare the average Christian to the average non-Christian and generally speaking what do you see? One goes to church on Sunday, the other might, but likely doesn’t. One shows some level of interest in Christian theology, the other likely has very little interest at all. One anticipates attending some sort of mid-week, Christian corporate gathering, the other probably doesn’t. Now we could go on, but let me stop to ask a question. Where do you see similarity between the two? In how they live. These days, it’s become increasingly difficult to discern any real difference between the way Christians and non-Christians live. It’s a question of ethics.

Those who make claim to the holiness of Christ, but show no manifestation of the Holy One who indwells them, are close to Jesus in their profession, but closer still to the atheist in practice. Such people are not fooling the Holy God of heaven. Paul couldn’t be more to the point. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16). How can a person whose lifestyle is basically indistinguishable from the heathen world be certain of his salvation? He may confess a new life and that the Spirit of holiness now occupies him like a guard, but if what he professes isn’t seen to bear testimony with his outward acts, then how can this man, or any who observe him, have confidence that God has truly separated him unto Himself? What the puritans and Jonathan Edwards called “Experiential Religion” is not to be confused with charismatic affectations of body and soul in worship. Its concern is a passionate desire to be separate from the world and one with God and with godliness.

3 comments:

  1. John,

    A much needed word for many of us. I'm wondering though, based on this being a question of ethics ... How would you counsel a brother or sister who sees signs of grace and godliness, yet still struggles in various ways to ethically walk opposite of the world? What would your counsel be to those who wonder, well, pastor ...If Christ lives in me why do I still sin?

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  2. Jeremy, Christ does not promise perfection this side of heaven, but sanctification, in which the lusts of the flesh are more and more weakened. That a child of God is aware of his sin is proof that Christ is performing this act of continuing grace, for apart from it, men are not anxious over their sin.

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  3. Dying more unto sin and living more unto righteousnes ... and yet the process in progression is different for every believer. I was thrilled to read this post. It seems that the evangelical church at large today is finding it hard to hold God's grace and holiness in the same hand of principle and practice. Saved by grace to good works prepared before hand that we might walk in them. Keep writing, John. See you Sunday.

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