Seeking Him: Lessons 6 & 7
HOLINESS: A Heart Like His
"...Strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14
We have 2 kinds of holiness: Positional and Personal (or "practical")
Positional ~ purchased by God through Christ, imparted to the believer so that his/her faith is "reckoned" as God's righteousness ~ SECURED and so "already" ours
Personal ~ the outworking of the holiness God has reckoned to us as believers ~ evidenced in the way we think and live ~ progressive and increasing as we are made more and more like Christ (conformed to his likeness) ~ effected because God has given us his holy Spirit who empowers us to choose righteousness ~ will be fully realized when we are Glorified (we will be like him for we will see him as he is!)
Imagery: Getting ready for the wedding!
How ridiculous, a bride who would forget her wedding day, showing up disheveled and astonished!
In Ephesians 5:25-27, we see that what Jesus was purchasing FOR the church, his Bride (namely, her holiness), he also accomplishes IN her, "that he might sanctify her [make her holy], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."
So we, the bride, by means of God's grace, and by the power of God's spirit in us, also make ourselves ready. "Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:13-16
This is a transformation that takes place from the INSIDE OUT ~ unlike Jesus' cursing of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 who were clean in their outward appearance like whitewashed tombs, but inside were "full of dead men's bones"! "...God doesn't look on the face of things; he looks at our hearts. He doesn't just glance at our hearts; he searches them." ~NLD
*Suggested assignment: Take some blank paper - in a journal or notebook, or just plain paper, and write out the verses for the "top ten" items in the day 5 inventory list, just 10 or so of the 65 items listed that the Lord brought to your particular attention as areas of your own "personal holiness" for which he is bringing conviction. And ask the Lord to impress these areas in your heart and life so that you might walk faithfully in them.
(ended classtime reading from the end of Revelation, how the Bride appears before God without any blemish, having made herself ready ~ and how our heavenly Groom is revealed in his Glory ~ even so come quickly, Lord!)
OBEDIENCE: The Acid Test of Love
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15
Obedience is the pathway to personal holiness ~ it is the means by which God guards us, effect his BEST for us. (It is not as though God is desiring mere "do's and don'ts," but rather because of his love FOR us, he desires obedience FROM us because his commands are not wearisome or hardships, but rather are his means for blessing us, enabling us to walk his BEST path for our lives.
His love is the basis of his self-revelation - his commands are for our Good! And when we obey out of love for HIM, we walk in greater intimacy WITH him. (Put another way, our obedience doesn't EARN God's favor, it springs forth FROM it!)
portion from a letter penned by John Newton (author of hymn, "Amazing Grace") in which he compares the Believer in his "Scripture-character" state versus his state "from experience," [clarifying comments in brackets].
"To hear a believer speak his apprehensions of the evil of sin, the vanity of the world, the love of Christ, the beauty of holiness, or the importance of eternity, who would not suppose him proof against temptation? [how could such a person, with such a right view of things, fail to walk in obedience?] To hear with what strong arguments he can recommend his watchfulness, prayer, forbearance, and submission when he is teaching or advising others, who would not suppose but he could also teach himself, and influence his own conduct? [clearly, such a one must "have it all together!" when it comes to their own walk with God?] Yet, alas!...The person who rose from his knees, before he left his chamber, a poor indigent, fallible, dependent creature, who saw and acknowledged that he was unworthy to breather the air or to see the light, may meet with many occasions, before the day is closed, to discover the corruptions of his heart, and to show how weak and faint his best principles and clearest convictions are in their actual exercise. And in this view, how vain is man! what a contradiction is a believer to himself! He is a believer emphatically, because he cordially assents to the word of God; but, alas! how often unworthy of the name!
"If I was to describe him from the Scripture-character, I should say, he is one whose heart is athirst for God, for His glory, His image, His presence; his affections are fixed upon an unseen Savior: his treasures, and consequently his thoughts, are on high, beyond the bounds of sense. Having experienced much forgiveness, he is full of bowels of mercy to all around; and having been often deceived by his own heart, he dares trust it no more, but alive by faith in the Son of God, for wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and derives from Him grace for grace; sensible [aware of the fact] that without Him he has not sufficiency even to think a good thought. In short, he is dead to the world, to sin, to self, but alive to God, and lively in His service. Prayer is his breath, the word of God his food, and the ordinances [God's righteous commandments!] more precious to him than the light of the sun. Such is a believer -- in his judgment and prevailing desires.
"But was I to describe him from experience, especially at some times, how different would the picture be! Though he knows that communion with God is his highest privilege, he too seldom finds it so; on the contrary, if duty, conscience, and necessity did not compel, he would leave the throne of grace unvisited from day to day. He takes up the Bible, conscious that it is the fountain of life and true comfort; yet, perhaps, while he is making the reflection, he feels a secret distaste which prompts him to lay it down, and give his preference to a newspaper. He needs not to be told of the vanity and uncertainty of all beneath the sun [surely he knows very well that the things of this earthly life are fleeting and temporary!]; and yet [he] is almost as much elated or cast down by a trifle, as those who have their portion in this world. He believes that all things shall work together for his good, and that the most high God appoints, adjusts, and over-rules all his concerns; yet he feels the risings of fear, anxiety, and displeasure, as though the contrary [opposite] was true. [!!] He owns [admits] himself ignorant, and liable to be deceived by a thousand fallacies [false arguments]; yet is easily betrayed into positiveness [assurance!] and self-conceit. He feels himself an unprofitable, unfaithful, unthankful servant, and therefore blushes to harbor a thought of desiring the esteem [praise] and commendations of men, yet he cannot suppress it. Finally, for I must observe some bounds, on account of these and many other inconsistencies, he is struck dumb before the Lord, stripped of every hope and plea, but [except] what is provided in the free grace of God, and yet his heart is continually leaning and returning to a covenant of works....
[How then will we be victorious? How can we walk in obedience rather than being forever undercut by our own failings?]
"...I think it safe to use Scriptural language -- The apostles exhort us to give all diligence to resist the devil, to purge ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, to give ourselves to reading, meditation, and prayer, to watch, to put on the whole armour of God, and to abstain from all appearance of evil. Faithfulness to light received, and a sincere endeavor to conform to the means prescribed in the word of God, with a humble application to the blood of sprinkling, and the promised Spirit, will undoubtedly be answered by increasing measure of light, faith, strength, and comfort; and we shall know [for in the end we will certainly see him as he is], if we follow on to know the Lord [don't give up! it is he who endures to the end who shall be saved!] ...."
God concerns himself with every detail (consider our study of Exodus 25 and 39-40) ~ And just as when Israel under Moses' leadership built the tabernacle of God according to ALL that the Lord had commanded Moses, and God's glory filled the tabernacle, so our obedience is inextricably linked to walking in intimacy with him.
Video summary: God is God - he has the right to tell us what to do. All nature obeys his commands, evil spirits even must obey his commands. But God gives us the opportunity to obey from "freedom," because God wants lovers. God's commands are always for our good, that it may go well with you - as he says repeatedly throughout the Scriptures. Obedience is a means of our protection, our joy, God's working his best in and for our lives. Disobedience is the pathway of conflict; we want the blessing, but we don't want to obey. Like with illustration from life of Helen Keller, God teaches us to obey him as the means of impressing our hearts with the reality of his goodness and love.
Seeking Him: Lessons 6 & 7