Does the Call to Holiness Apply to Me?
There are some Christians who truly believe that they are perfect and they have no need of repentance or consecration. I’m sure you know some of them. There may even be a few in your Church. You know them – the ones with the Pharisee spirit and the judgmental words. Constantly telling everyone about their exploits for God and how God has used them. Always pointing out the sin in others but never dealing with themselves. Everyone else needs to change but they are fine!!
In case any be tempted to believe that you are perfect let me remind you of 1 John 1:8-10.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
If we were in fact perfect, without sin, then it would indeed be an easy state to attain. If holiness and perfection is that easy to attain then why does the Scripture encourage us
“………..work out your own salvation with fear and trembling:” (Phil. 2:12b)
“………..run in a race…………..Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Cor. 9:24)
“Fight the good fight of faith……………… “ (1 Tim. 6:12a)
“………..press on…….press toward the goal for the prize…….” (Phil. 3:12b, 14a)
“…………striving against sin.” (Heb. 12:4b)
(emphasis is mine)
All of these verbs indicate effort, energy, action, consistency, persistence, work, diligence. In fact, it requires so much strength that we cannot attain holiness in our own strength.
“It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect.” (Ps. 18:32) “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
Our pathway to holiness is full of pitfalls, perils, potholes, problems, and pleasures to distract us. We must be in partnership with God and be in constant communication with His Holy Spirit within you. He sits on the seat of your conscience. You must therefore be in tune with your conscience and not push it aside. It is part of that still small voice of God that guides our footsteps.
“Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience…….” (John 8:9)
“……….their conscience also bearing witness,……………..” (Rom. 2:15)
“………..my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,” (Rom. 9:1b)
“……a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,” (1 Tim, 1:19)
Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 9:27 makes us aware that the journey towards holiness is a daily, continuing process that requires discipline because we are constantly at risk of our human tendencies such as pride, envy, fear, rumour mongering, lying and doubt rising up within us.
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27)
This passage also expresses greater caution for those who are in ministry who are at the greatest risk, particularly those who are known in the public domain so we must pray for them constantly. The problem is that we confuse the gifts of the Spirit with the fruit of the Spirit. We equate power in ministry with holiness. Have you ever wondered when you hear about a great minister of God falling how they were able to still minister with a powerful anointing? How God allowed them to continue to minister even with their sin? There are two things I received in answer to my own questions in this regard. First, God’s gifts are without repentance. In other words, when God gives you a gift He does not take it back.
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom. 11:29)
This doesn’t mean that God will not hold you accountable for your sins. Look at it this way. If your child did something wrong would you take away all the gifts you ever gave to him/her? Most likely not. If you are a good parent you would most definitely punish that child because you want that child to know that what was done was wrong and unacceptable, and to encourage an adjustment in the wrong behaviour. The second thing I received was that the gifts of God are not for the minister but for the blessing of those who will be ministered to with those gifts. So God allows the ministry to continue for the sake of those who require the ministry.
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:” (1 Cor. 12:7)
Finally, some Christians believe that all is well with them because they are measuring themselves with the world’s yardstick of “goodness”. But God’s yardstick is much more profound. See for yourselves in Matthew 5:21-7:23 and do a self-assessment. Oh, be sure to do the foolish man test also (see Matthew 7:24-27).