…“because by one sacrifice
he has made perfect forever
those who are being made holy.”
Hebrews 10:14 NIV
Yesterday I found myself outside of the garden. There was not a whole lot of time for meditating on scripture and prayer. My hubby was pressing me to hurry up because he was anxious to get an early start. Our destination for the day was the Blue Ridge Parkway. This time of year the mountains and the hills break forth in singing as the trees flaunt their fall foliage. This crisp autumn day was calling our names! I barley had time to grab my travel mug of coffee as I exited the door.
God is the faithful hound of heaven. He is always pursuing me even when I am in a rush! God had big plans for me as we drove the winding roads of the parkway. Each overlook was more beautiful than the last. You see, God is everywhere. He speaks. We learn. We process. We worship! Today was to be one of those days.
Through the magnificence of God’s creation I begin to see his perfect holiness. He is holy because there is none like him. He is holy because he is perfect in every way. He is holy because he is sinless. As I reflect on this truth, I remember that my holy God commands me to be holy because he is holy. God’s holiness is not unattainable by my human effort but it is always attainable through God’s power and my cooperation with that power. It is a joint endeavor between me and God. I have found great joy in participating in the process which allows me to taste of his holiness. This has not always been the case in my life.
In my early Christian life I was taught that without holiness no man shall see God and I believed that the word holiness was synonymous with perfection. I was also taught that after you become a Christian you then seek a second work of grace and it was that event that made you perfect. Now that may not have been the intent, but that was the way I perceived what I was taught. However, I just couldn’t seem to wrap my arms around this perfect holiness. In all honesty, knew I was NOT perfect! Yet, I kept trying to acquire this one time experience called holiness. I kept seeking the gift instead of the giver of the gift. I lived in constant fear that I would die without holiness and I was fearful I would never see the Lord! This was devastating to me because I loved the Lord! I believed that my lack of holiness canceled out my salvation. So my prayers were, God save me, God, forgive me, God sanctify me, God save me, God forgive me, God sanctify me, prayed over and over again. It is only by the grace of a God who never gave up on me that I didn’t give up on him! You see, God promises us that if we seek him, we will find him! 2 Chronicles 15:2
During those frustrating years I reminded myself of a “rag doll” that was limp and weak as water. There were no spiritual bones in my body that could support my wilting legs of failure. As I tried to attain that which was attainable I was filled with fear, void of joy, and worn out. To add to my confusion, there were those who testified of having obtained this holiness, but for me it remained illusive. During my search for perfection, I observed that those who had somehow managed to reach this level of spirituality, often behaved no better than me. When I was wearing this judgmental hat I observed that some of these folks seemed to behave far worse. Although actions and words seem to speak for themselves, the truth was, I did not know their hearts so I accepted their confession of holiness while I continued to find myself troubled, dissatisfied, and lacking. I attributed my “rag doll” failure as my own lack of faith. I took full responsibility for the fact that I couldn’t get it right. Most of the time, each fresh new attempt at attaining holiness usually failed before I made it home from church.
Then God in his mercy and grace taught me about holiness. I first had to learn what holiness was NOT! Holiness was NOT adhering to a list of do’s and don’t. Holiness was NOT doing good works. Holiness was NOT a second work of grace that came in one complete package. Holiness was NOT being perfect. Holiness was NOT something that I could attain through my own effort. Holiness was NOT living my Christian life in fear and trembling. I believed with all my heart that a Christian should be full of joy!
God taught me that holiness IS something that God and I will work on until the day I die. I began to realize that holiness IS becoming sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and then following that prompting by choosing to obey God one prompting at a time. Holiness IS falling in love with Jesus to the point that I get up in the morning and choose Jesus over and over again all day long everyday. Salvation IS already mine but sanctification IS walking in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I must choose his words, his example, his friendship, his love, his joy, his peace, his patience, his kindness, his goodness, his faithfulness, his gentleness, his example of self-control, and his grace for my life every minute of the day. Do I do this perfectly? Absolutely not! Should I keep trying to do this better? Absolutely yes!
Pursuing holiness IS my work of obedience as I respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who IS already in my life! If that fact is not true, then I must sever the Trinity into three separate pieces. But God’s Word teaches that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One. How can one part of God enter my life and the others stay behind?
God then taught me the good news that I would not be perfect but not to worry, he has that covered too! When I experience failure in my walk with the Lord, what I have to do is to pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again. Praise God, the free gift of salvation was and is still mine, but sanctification was and still is a process whereby I must hold myself accountable every day. I learned that because of my sinful nature my flesh and spirit would struggle every day and because I am not yet in my perfect glorified body, I will still experience sinful thoughts, attitudes, and behavior in this life. This is not the same sin that separated me from my Creator. It is the sin in my daily life that clouds my relationship with Jesus; it dulls my witness, confuses my thinking, and causes me to take my eyes off of Jesus. When this occurs, the sin MUST be confessed and cleared up! In this life I must be accountable for my sinful behavior if I am to live an effective Christian life.
I praise God that I am currently an active participant in the school of sanctification. I am being made holy! …“because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14 NIV I began to learn the more I love Jesus the more I want to please him. Out of my love and desire to please Jesus flows my accountability, my trust, my obedience, and my faithfulness. Gone are my days of fear.
I am amazed at the mystery of how God works when I choose to be obedient. God uses simple obedience as an instrument to transmit his shinning glory onto the pathway of others. When I choose to exhibit Christ like characteristics in all that concerns me, people see Jesus, not me, and that, my friend, is holiness! It is the holiness garment of Jesus Christ that covers my filthy rags. That is the stuff that stiffens the legs of this “rag doll” and keeps her walking the path with Jesus. That is what keeps me in joyful pursuit of holiness. My obedience brings glory to the only perfect one, Jesus Christ. Two bi-products of holy living are peace and joy! Even on my worst day and in my darkest hour, God is able to give me his peace and joy. As believers, all we have to do is take those wonderful gifts from his loving hands. Peace and joy are the perks of daily walking with Jesus in the way of holiness. I am so glad that God commands us to walk the joyful path of holiness not the path of perfection.
1. When it comes to pursuing holiness do you relate to feeling like a rag doll? (Sorry men, how about being a powerless super hero?)
2. Do you believe that holiness is perfection? Why or why not?
3. Do you believe that holiness is a process whereby God enables you to partake in His holiness?
4. When will holiness be a completed work in your life?
Today I stand in the shadow of your holiness. My life cannot contain the full measure of holiness that you have for me. Help me Lord to walk daily with you in pursuit of joyful holy living. I thank you that I am “being made” holy. How I long for that day when your perfect holiness will also be mine. Until that day, I thank you for the privilege of being a partaker in you holiness. Jesus, I want to fall deeper and deeper in love with you so that my obedience will overflow out of my love for you. Just as Mary washed your feet with expensive perfume and dried your feet with her hair, I too, desire that to be my response. Spontaneous worship and love that is lavishly poured out on you my Lord. Jesus, I know that you desire the sweet perfume of obedience from all your children. True holiness is allowing you to help this struggling mind of mine to overcome daily my fleshly struggle to do things my way. True holiness is choosing to walk in your Spirit rather than following the desires of my fleshly will. How do I do this? Could it be it is as simple as one “yes Jesus” at a time, all day – every day.
It is in your sweet name I pray. Amen.