Fallacies that Hinder Holiness – Part Three
Just a quick recap. “Why are there so many Christians who are stagnant, dependent, and unfruitful?” There are several fallacies being taught in churches that are keeping Christians in bondage and from fulfilling their true potential in accordance with God’s will. God’s people are being destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6). There are ten such fallacies that I aim to uncover. I have done four in the past two blogs, which are:
Fallacy #1: Being born again is sufficient
Fallacy #2: Once saved always saved
Fallacy #3: Repentance leads to holiness
Fallacy #4: Grace releases me from following the law
Fallacy 5: I Am what I See
When we look at each other we see our bodies. And the amount of time we spend on making our bodies look good to the world, you would really think that our bodies are who we are. We spend so much time putting ourselves together because we want those around us to have a good image of who we are. But our outward appearance is not who we are. We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). God is triune – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are also triune.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:23, NKJV, emphasis mine)
We are a spirit with a soul living in a body. It is important to know that our spirit and our soul are not the same.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)
Many times throughout Scripture, what is referred to as the ‘heart’ is really the ‘soul’. Our soul consists of our emotions, our mind, and our will. Our spirit is the seat of our conscience, where the Holy Spirit abides when we become Christians. Prior to being born again, our spirit man is dead to the things of God.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14)
“And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins,” (Eph. 2:1, Amplified version)
When we are born again it is our spirit that is renewed. However, our soul still has to go through a life-long process of sanctification. This is a missing link that many Christians are not taught. This is why the Scripture tells us to “work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12b). There is a working out, a pressing toward, a running the race that must be done for us to come into the image of Jesus Christ. There are things in us that have to be removed before we can come into full freedom and fulfil our God given potential. These things have to do with our emotions, our thoughts and our choices. Our soul has to be brought into subjection to our spirit for holiness to take place. However, many Christians continue to be led by their feelings and are therefore unable to attain holiness as required by God. This is the battle that Paul spoke of in Romans 7:15-23. A battle that was still ongoing many years after his conversion to Christianity. The great thing is that he recognized it and determined that by submission to Jesus Christ he could overcome. Thank God he did or most of the New Testament would never have been written. This leads us into the next fallacy.
Fallacy #6: It’s Behaviour that Matters
We live in a society where image is everything. But God holds us to a higher standard. God is more interested on what’s driving our behaviour than in the behaviour itself. Not everyone who says Lord, Lord is really submitted to the Lord (Matt. 7:21). Many Christians are going through all the motions of Christianity but inside they are ravening wolves. This is the reason that God requires us to become mature Christians to discern and not be easily led astray by false teachers.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15)
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:12-14)
God is interested in the state of our hearts. He requires truth in the inward parts (Psa. 51:6). God measures our holiness not by our good deeds but by the condition of our hearts. In the Bible, the ‘heart’ refers sometimes to our soul and at other times to our spirit. Although the two are separate, they are closely intertwined. Throughout Scripture we see that the Father is constantly searching our hearts.
“Now He who searches the hearts………..” (Rom. 8:27)
“Would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psa. 44:21)
“So God, who knows the heart,………..” (Acts 15:8)
“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind,……….” (Jer. 17:10)
King David understood where the Father’s interest lay and consistently asked the Lord to help him remain true on the inside.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps. 139:23-24)
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psa. 51:10)
Two areas of the heart I want to focus on here are thoughts and motives. A vital area that you must be aware of are your thoughts. This is the area that Satan taps into to begin the path to sin. You cannot afford to be ignorant of the devil’s devices.
“lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor. 2:11)
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)
Your initial thought is not sin, even when it doesn’t line up with the Word of God. We cannot control what pops into our minds. In fact, our minds are the battle ground of Satan. Our actions start with a thought. This is why it is critical that we be aware of what we are thinking. Once we become aware, we then become accountable for what happens with the thought. Whether we cancel it or whether we entertain it.
“But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death.” (Jam. 1: 14-15, Amplified version)
I want us to notice that there is time for us to recognize what is happening and nip things in the bud between the initial thought (temptation) and committing sin . Note also, that it is our choice to not get carried away (literally) by our thoughts into day dreaming and hatching plans thereby allowing the initial thought to become a reality. We see Jesus warning about this in Matthew 5:21-32. Sin is conceived as we continue to allow our thoughts to become enticements.
Very closely aligned to your thoughts are your feelings. These are also a very good gauge of what is happening to you spiritually. Fear, anxiety, worry and resentment are all signals that the law of sin is at work within us. All of these are sin in God’s eyes and we must not just accept them as part of who we are. We are required to be vigilant in protecting our hearts because our very lives depend upon it (Prov. 4:23). As Christians then, we must be in control of our thoughts and not be controlled by them. Stop ungodly thoughts in their tracks by confessing the Word of God to cancel them out. Jesus set the example for us when He was being tempted of the devil in the wilderness in Matthew chapter 4.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Cor. 10:5)
For example, if fearful thoughts invade your mind confess the word, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Another vital area to be aware of is your motives. Focusing on behaviour alone is not sufficient because you can do the right thing but for the wrong reason. Always ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’ or ‘why did I do that?’ as part of ‘keeping your heart with all diligence’. Many times the honest answer to this question will shed light on footholds of the enemy in your life that need to be cancelled.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1)
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matt. 6:6)
Most Christians do not fully understand how important our motives are to God. Without the pure motive of love operating in our lives we cannot hope to please God. Watch out for my soon to be released book “Motives: The Hidden Agenda”.
Fallacy #7: Flowing in Spiritual Gifts means I am Holy
I won’t go into a long discussion on this fallacy since I discussed this matter at some length in Holiness Pt 2. Suffice it to say, that when we or other Christians are seen to be flowing in spiritual gifts this should not be in any way confused with them or us being full of the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual gifts are to enable ministry to others and for the sake of others God will allow the flow of the anointing even when sin is present (1 Cor. 12:7). God’s gifts are without repentance (Rom. 11:29).