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Holiness: Why?

In Leviticus, we read all the laws God made about who we can be physically intimate with and who we cannot touch. Thank God the new covenant set us free from the law of sin and death, but even in the New Testament the leaders agreed that there were basic laws that all Christians should follow, regardless of our freedom in Christ.


God's word is very clear. As far as I know, no one really offers meat to idols any longer, but the basic standards of sexuality have fallen to the wayside. It's going on blatantly, even in the church, and at the highest levels of leadership in several denominations. We've made excuses and tried to interpret the Bible differently to make it acceptable. We've so customized our lives that we think we can customize our sexuality too. Or maybe their new interpretation is just that those laws are old and out of date, so we don't worry about them.


Is it important for us to honor God's laws of holiness today? Holiness: why? What's the point?


Jesus hung out with people who the religious communities had declared unacceptable, but He didn't celebrate their sin. He showed them compassion and love, and that drew them into repentance. I have dear ones who haven't submitted this area of their lives to the lordship of Christ. They know the truth and haven't asked me to celebrate their choices. I gladly extend my warmest hospitality to them. I show them the love of Jesus, not rejection. I trust God to do the convicting.

God's laws aren't always something we understand or even agree with. They require things of us that are uncomfortable and difficult at times. Not just the laws on sexual sin, either. God's word also forbids any kind of unlawfulness, gossip, and dishonesty in business practices. We are to avoid unsecured debt (credit cards). It's our jobs to make sure that, as much as it's up to us, no one goes without food, clothing, or shelter.


Some of the laws are so obviously clear - don't murder or commit adultery - and some are a lot more difficult to keep. Even when we don't understand what God's problem is with something, Leviticus 20:26 explains it.

"You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own."


God created the universe and He gets to decide what makes us holy; not us. Who are we in the brilliant and holy light of our Heavenly Father?

 

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.


So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

-James 1:12-18

 

The world around us can set fire to themselves if they want. They can participate in all kinds of debauchery and lawlessness. They aren't set apart as holy. When we give our lives to Christ, we are to be like Him. Holy. That means we may be uncomfortable as we refrain from participating in things the world enjoys. We may be mocked and told we aren't fun or we're judgmental. We can't let that influence us to participate in sin. It may even be excruciating to use self-control and reject the things of this world, but His word says He always makes a way of escape. Sometimes that way may be to literally turn our bodies around and run the other direction as fast as we can, but there is always a way to escape temptation.

 

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;

but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,

but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

- I Corinthians 10:12-13

 

Pray for God to give you and your family strength to serve Him and surrender to His authority. Ask God to show you how to stay pure in a world full of sin. Pray, pray, pray. Put on the armor of God so you can stand against Satan's attacks. Renew your mind with songs of worship and praise. Read the Bible and ask God to open your heart to understand it.


Very practically, there's one more thing God has shown me and I want to share with you. Eye contact. Walk with your head high and look the world in the face. However, there are times you may notice others noticing you. If a person makes meaningful eye contact, and if that person isn't an appropriate future spouse, LOOK AWAY. It's when you hold their gaze for a moment too long that sin takes root. When you look away, you communicate clearly. It stops temptation before it really begins.

 

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

-Ephesians 6:10-13

 

Scripture says we're living in the last days, and we have to be ready for the return of Christ. He's coming back soon. He expects a bride who is spotless and eagerly waiting for Him. He's going to bring conviction to every heart when He returns and our excuses will mean nothing in the light of His holiness. We need to be prepared.


I'm writing a weekly newsletter about how I'm making sure there's enough oil in my lamp to be prepared when Christ returns. (See Matthew 25:1-13.) It's part devotional, part practical steps. (For a sample, click here.) I've spent many years serving the idol of comfort and people-pleasing (along with much of the rest of our country), and God has required me to smash those idols and serve Him alone. The "me" from a year ago today wouldn't recognize this version of me. I'm different. This is a time for holiness, not excuses. No matter how I feel about it, no matter how difficult it is - we must embrace discomfort and LIVE. You can be on my mailing list by typing your email address in that annoying blue pop up box.


Join me. It's time.


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